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This may not be the time for captains to resume league matches

GOLF By Vincent Wang'ombe | July 3rd 2020
Andrew Chelogoi tees off during the Standard Group Golf Tournament at the Eldoret Golf Club. 16-02-2019. [PHOTO BY: KEVIN TUNOI]

A few years ago, at a Nairobi District League match, my partner, Lucas Marang’a and I were representing Limuru Country Club against Elijah Adul and Maurice K’Anjejo from Muthaiga Golf Club.

We were playing the match at Limuru and that made us optimistic that we would do well as we knew the course better than our guests.

In the first nine, K’Anjejo was physically present but his golf game had deserted him. My partner and I were however unable to take advantage of the fact that Adul had been left on his own to compete with us.

Adul was holing long putts from distances that would make any professional golfer on the PGA Tour feel proud. At the end of the first nine, our match was all-square. We were still very confident that we would win the match and felt that Adul’s luck would soon run out.

When we started the second nine, K’Anjejo’s game had what seemed like a miraculous revival and he was suddenly helping his partner. Marang’a and I were beaten by our guests and as is the tradition with the leagues matches, we sat down with them, broke bread together and had a good laugh about the game.

I don’t remember whether my fellow Limuru Warriors played better than Marang’a and I and who won the league that year; all I remember is that we had a good time playing the league.

I have fond memories of other matches that I have played in other clubs. I remember winning some and losing others, but the most important aspect of the league match is that I have made friends playing these matches.

After the Kenya Golf Union reinstated handicaps two weeks ago, the Nairobi District Captains decided to resume the Nairobi District League. There have been a number of captains who felt that the time was not right to resume and that it would be best to cancel this year’s league and resume next year. The majority however had their say and the tournaments are set to resume on Sunday, fifth of July.

Muthaiga Golf Club as well as Karen Country Club are currently not ready to host visiting clubs under these uncertain, COVID-19 times. For this reason, they shall not host any home matches. Whether their members will be willing to visit other courses is still uncertain.

I have received calls from many golfers asking whether, in my opinion, this is the best time to resume league competitions. My simple answer is that we should not have the Nairobi District League this year. These are strange times and foregoing some of the things we are used to is the new normal.

When our forebears started the Nairobi District League, their intention was for golfers to interact, visit other courses and enjoy the camaraderie. Of course, there will be a winner when there is a competition. This however is not the raison d’être of the league. If it was, the end of league would have had a lot more focus than it does currently. This is the reason why when Golf Park, Ruiru Sports Club and Thika Greens Golf Resort were added to the Nairobi District League, there was no club relegated.

The minimum number of golfers who participate in a league match is 60, there have however been matches that have recorded well over 100 golfers on Sunday morning.

After the match, the hosts are expected to entertain the guests and one gesture that has been accepted as a norm lately is, the host captain offers a bottle or two of whiskey to the visiting team.

With the social distancing rules introduced as a result of Covid-19, it will not be practicable for golfers to sit after the round and break bread together and enjoy a tot or two of whiskey. For me, a league match is not complete without the social aspect. That is what I have enjoyed most for the years. For that reason, I would urge the captains to please reconsider their decision to resume the league matches.

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

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