Vital lessons from Safari Tour at Muthaiga

By Vincent Wang'ombe: Friday, January 18th 2019 at 09:34 GMT +3 | Golf
Muthaiga Golf Club [Courtesy]

One of the greatest lessons for me during the just concluded Safari Tour event at Muthaiga Golf Club was from a lady golfer.

She let me in on a well-kept secret by lady golfers that explained why professional golf in Kenya has been stuck in rut for many years.

She told that wise ladies would never tell a man that he is a bad driver, a slow golfer or a bad lover. Perhaps I had better come up with a swift clarification of that statement before we get our wires completely crossed. I was at Muthaiga Golf Club as a referee and a tournament administrator.

The statement was so self-evident when we finished the first round. If a stranger would come upon Greg Snow in the recording room after any of the four rounds that he played under-par at Muthaiga this week, it could be well some time before the visitor recognised him for the champion he is.

This is not because Snow is unduly self-depreciative or quiet, but simply because he does not carry himself as one to whom golf is the be-all and end-all of life for him.

Snow is a shrewd and determined golfer who does not let a few bad holes mess up his mood or focus. Even after a slow start on Sunday where he played one over par on the first nine, he did not let this faze him and he continued to play five under par on the second nine to complete the round at four under par; 67 strokes in total.

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On Monday, he played two over par on the first nine and three under par on the second nine for a total of 70 strokes; one under par. His most impressive round came on Tuesday when he played three under par on the first nine and four under par on the second nine for a total of 64 strokes.

By the end of the day on Tuesday, Snow had an unassailable lead of 11 strokes. He played one under par, 70 strokes, on Wednesday to complete the tournament at 13 under par. Dismas Indiza from Mumias and Rizwan Charania from Windsor Golf and Country Club who were joint second, could not produce any scores that would come close to Snow’s. At 13 under par, Snow was 15 strokes clear of Indiza and Charania, who were tied at two over par.

Greg Snow, winner of the 5th Johnnie Walker safari Tour championships [Courtesy]

The one thing that is common between these three gentlemen, who have consistently led in the Kenyan golfing scene, is humility. Indeed, the top eight golfers on the Road to Kenya Open 2019 ranking are all humble golfers who don’t have airs of entitlement just because they are “professional golfers”.

The worst thing to have happened at the Safari Tour at Muthaiga Golf Club was one professional golfer, who is totally devoid of professionalism, who told off one of the amateur golfers. He was being advised on how to deal with relief under the current Rules of Golf and he brashly told off the amateur golfer.

“Don’t even talk to me about the Rules. You are an amateur golfer. I am a professional golfer,” retorted the professional golfer when given advice on how to take relief.

This, unfortunately, has been the attitude of a number of professional golfers. Some even thought that the Safari Tour would not amount to anything since they were not put on the driver’s seat of running the tournament.

How would it succeed when it was run by golfers who cannot strike the ball as well as they can?

The Safari Tour is definitely beginning to bear fruit. The professional golfers are playing better and we are now seeing more top amateur golfers turning up to play with the professionals.

Out of the eight amateur golfers who entered, four made the cut after the second round on Monday. Edwin Mudanyi emerged top among the amateurs and won the Silver Salver for the event.

Mr Wang’ombe is a Kenya Golf Union Executive

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