TOUGH TIMES AHEAD: Challenging barriers await golfers at KCB Karen Masters

By ERICK OCHIENG': Thursday, March 2nd 2017 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Golf
Denmark's Karsten Maas goes through a practice round at Karen golf club ahead of the upcoming KCB Karen Masters

It will not be smooth sailing for golfers at the inaugural KCB Karen Masters Golf tournament.

When the tournament gets underway on March 17-19 at Karen Country Club, the 22 local and 46 European Challenge Tour professionals will need more than straight strokes to navigate the new green and lush fairways.

According to tournament organisers, the players should be prepared to tackle challenging holes number six and 12 at the par 72 course.

Players will also have to deal with a forest of trees, bushes on both sides and relatively strong winds at hole number six, which is the longest par four at 472 yards and with a stroke index of one.

At hole number 12, which is a par four hole, players will maneuver a dam on the left side of the fairways, while keeping the ball out of bounds on the right.

“I believe most players will have their first shot land in the water, so it’s better to remain focused; it will not be easy,” admitted Professional Golfers of Kenya (PGK) captain Charles John Wangai, who is currently testing the fairways.

Another grueling monster will be the club’s signature hole number 14, which boasts two water features, one between the tee and green and the other on the left of the green.

“It will require something special for the players to successfully beat its barriers,” Wangai said.

Despite the eminent barriers, Wangai is optimistic of posting a good show and hopefully, win the Sh1.5million prize money on offer.

Apart from testing the fairways, Wangai has been having early morning training at his home club, Sigona Golf Club, in readiness for the event.

“I believe the Karen Country Club course will play a major factor in determining who wins the continental outing,” he said.

“Playing sufficiently will be vital in this outing. If one is not careful in the front nine, he or she may end up burning out in the back nine,” added Wangai, who has pledged to continue training at Karen as he seeks to master the technicalities of the course.

Apart from Wangai, the 2015 Guinness Book of Record trickster and PGA Pro Danish Karsten Maas is among hordes of players, who have sampled the new greens, ahead of the high-profile tournament.

Karen Club management introduced the new barriers on the course after it began the reconstruction process since April last year.

Each green has taken about three months before completion in the process that included excavation, preparation, seeding then opening.

The last green will be opened this week and the KCB Karen Masters will be the initial tournament to be held at the new course.

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