Successful junior programme hallmark success at Easter tournament

By Vincent Wang'ombe: Friday, April 26th 2019 at 00:05 GMT +3 | Golf
Nyali Golf Club's Daniel Nduva reading his line of putting at the greens during the 50th Edition of the Barclays Kenya Open at Muthaiga Golf club on Thursday, March 21, 2018. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

As the sun was setting on Easter Saturday, the final group of the game between Mombasa Golf Club versus Vet Lab Sports Club versus Railway Golf Club was still underway.

In that duel was the teenage pair of Leo Zurovac and Steve Orinda from Vet Lab, who aged 15 and 16 years respectively, were punching well above their weight. Earlier that afternoon, they seemed destined for certain defeat by both the Mombasa pair of Daniel Nduva and William Kaguta and the Railway Club pair of John Mburu and Edwin Murungi.

Standing at the 17th teeing area, in the failing light, the pair of Zurovac and Orinda did not want to continue playing as they were exhausted from playing two rounds of golf in one day.

The experienced pair of Nduva and Kaguta were keen to finish their work for the day as they were dormie two up; they were two holes up with two to play. Mburu and Murungi, on the other hand, had had a series of misfortunes in the previous four holes and had already lost their match to Nduva and Kaguta.

They had also lost their four hole lead on Zurovac and Orinda and were all square at that point. They were also keen to finish their round and didn’t want to come back early the following day to play two holes.

After some consultation, in the gathering greyness in the evening light, the three teams teed off. Zurovac went first and put his tee shot in the middle of the green.

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Nduva followed and his shot was closer to the hole. Murungi was not so lucky; his tee shot did not find the putting green and missed one spectator who could not see the approaching ball by the skin of his teeth.

Mburu and Murungi went on to make bogey while the pairs of Zurovac and Orinda, as well as Nduva and Kaguta, made pars. With that, the boys from the coast walked away victorious while Zurovac and Orinda were dormie one up on Mburu and Murungi.

Encouraged by the win over Mburu and Murungi, Zurovac and Orinda were very keen to keep going. They had lost the match to the Mombasa duo but they still had a chance to beat the Railway team. By this time darkness had set in and enveloped the golf course.

Save for the floodlights at the 18th hole, it was going to be impossible to find a mishit ball. Mburu and Murungi were beset by a compound of hope and fear that come to those who throw the first punch. They must have had remorse as well for underrating the youngsters and letting them pull back from certain defeat.

Mburu and Murungi chose not to play the 18th hole in the floodlight and they opted to complete the game the following morning.

Why were the players unable to complete their round in time? Was the competition committee of the 95th Tannahill Shield tournament complacent in planning? Far from it. The tournament was very well planned however the pace of play was the slowest that we have seen in the recent past.

Many of the participating teams had included youngsters in their lineup which is the best thing that can be happening to the game of golf in Kenya. The most noteworthy junior programs by clubs in the country must be from the hosts, Royal Nairobi Golf Club and the other perennial winners of the Tannahill Shield, Muthaiga Golf Club.

The best junior program in the country is definitely from Mombasa. The team had more junior supporters than any other team, which is an indication of the efforts being put to raise more junior players to replace the current crop.

There is one problem however with all these youngsters; they have the longest pre-shot routines. All of the teams monitored by referees for slow play had junior players in them. In training our junior players, the junior convenors will have failed if they could not show them that playing promptly is one of the characteristics of good golfers.

Slow play at the 95th Tannahill Shield was the only blight to a wonderfully organised and executed tournament. If we were to accommodate the pre-shot routines that I witnessed at the tournament, we would not have enough hours in the day, not enough days in the Easter weekend to complete a successful Tannahill Shield tournament.

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