Virus has same effect on Kenyan golf just like in World War

By Vincent Wangombe: Tuesday, April 14th 2020 at 11:03 GMT +3 | Golf
Multichoice's Philip Wahome during the launch of 92nd Tannahill Shield at Royal Nairobi Golf Club. [Jonah Onyango]

On Saturday, April 19, 1924, the golf captain of Nairobi Golf Club (now Royal Nairobi Golf Club), Arthur Tannahill, started what was going to be one of the most enduring tournaments in Kenya, the Easter Shield.

The clubs that were invited to participate were Mombasa Golf Club, Nyeri Golf Club, Kiambu Golf Club, Nakuru Golf Club and Muthaiga Golf Club. Nyeri Golf Club could not raise a team to compete and wished the tournament well as they pulled out.

As the tournament was going to be played over three days, Mombasa team that consisted of bankers and civil servants were in a bit of fix; Saturday was a normal work day and the train on Monday was scheduled to leave in the morning.

They were able to move the Governor of Kenya to declare Saturday, April 19 a Bank Holiday and the Chamber of Commerce to delay the train to leave in the afternoon. From the first event, the Mombasa Golf Club captain has been the guest of honour at the tournament’s luncheon.

After the death of Arthur Tannahill, Royal Nairobi Golf Club renamed the tournament Tannahill Shield; a name that is synonymous with the best matchplay competition in Kenya.

Over the years, the tournament has grown in importance and stature and an invitation from the Captain of Royal Nairobi Golf Club is well sought after.

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This year there was talk of inviting Nyeri Golf Club back to the Tannahill Shield. They would have been allowed to pick some of the best players from Mt. Kenya region in the same way that clubs from the west of the Rift Valley have presented a formidable team.

But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s Tannahill Shield is not taking place this Good Friday as has been the tradition for many years. Since the tournament started, the only other time that it was not held was in 1940 due to the start of the second World War. The Tannahill Shield was not suspended during for the entire duration of the War, the very next year golfers were back at it.

Instead of congregating at Royal Nairobi Golf Club for the Tannahill Shield this weekend, we shall be remembering a past Guest of Honour, Mark Mbua.

Mbua who served as the Golf Captain of Mombasa Golf Club in 2017-2018, died this week as a result of Covid-19. It is reported that the last round of golf that he played was at Royal Nairobi Golf Club on March 13. To golfers, especially those who have participated in the Tannahill Shield in recent years, the news of Mbua’s death must have come as a great shock and a realisation that this virus is now among us.

This Easter, let us pray for all those infected and those affected by this dreadful pandemic. Let us all stay safe by observing the guidelines set out by the Government of Kenya and the Kenya Golf Union. When the Covid-19 pandemic is under control, we shall have other opportunities to play this game that we love.

As for the dearly departed Captain, and all others who have lost their lives as a result of this virus, may God grant them eternal joy on heaven’s fairways. May their souls rest in peace.

Wang’ombe is the General Manager of Kenya Open Golf Limited

 

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