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Kenyan golf professionals need to prepare themselves for an African Safari Tour

GOLF By Vincent Wang'ombe | February 5th 2021
Robson Chinhoi aim at angle in the 18th Green hole during The Safari Tour Golf 3rd leg at Vet Lab in Kabete, Nairobi on Tuesday 20/10/2020 [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

Some years ago, I worked for a telco that was involved in the installation of the submarine fiber optic cables.

Before the installation of cables, the entire East African coast line did not have any of these fast connections.

I attended many conferences and meetings that focused so much on the cost of internet connectivity and many organisations focused so much on the Internet as a product.

Cybercafés were also at the table talking about how the lower cost of the Internet was going to make their businesses grow exponentially.

At one conference, the then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of ICT, Dr  Bitange Ndemo, talked about the need to create good content locally that would be consumed both locally and internationally.

“Our filmmakers can produce a video showing the steps that are taken during a ngurario,” said Dr. Ndemo giving an example using the traditional Gîkûyû wedding.

That comment elicited some laughter and the next day most of the media coverage centred around the cost of the Internet but there was little or no mention of his passionate appeal for creation of local content.

Back to matters golf; this week we had a very dramatic Safari Tour event at the Nyali Golf and Country Club.

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Simon Ngige from Thika Sports Club took the lead on the first round. The next day, David Wakhu wrested the lead from Ngige, who sprung back to the lead on the third round and many even started believing that we would see his maiden win on Safari Tour.

The tournament, however, belonged to Robson Chinhoi from Zimbabwe, who beat Dismas Indiza and Greg Snow by one shot.

Despite putting in good scores of five and three under par on the final day, Indiza and Snow could not catch up with Chinhoi.

Nyeri golf club's handicap 6 caddy Bernard Karigu in action during the Mount Kenya Championship February 3, 2020. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

I started looking at how the tournament has changed in the last three years. When the very Safari Tour tournament was played at the same golf course in 2018, it was an all-Kenyan affair.

As the Tour grows with every leg, there has been a lot of interest from players from the region. This time at Nyali, other than Chinhoi who won the tournament, there were golfers from Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi, Zambia and Nigeria.

As the Safari Tour grows, it is becoming an African tour. The Uganda Golf Union was the first to partner with the Safari Tour and have so far hosted five events.

We usually see as many Kenyans as Ugandans playing in these tournaments and they are creating a camaraderie among African professional golfers.

There have been discussions with other Unions in Africa to host other Safari Tour events in other countries.

As this continues to happen, there is going to be more interest from golfers from Africa. The Kenyan professional golfers will be put on their mettle and tested.

As many people were celebrating the landing of the submarine fiber optic cables and the reduction of the cost of the internet, we quickly realised that being able to reach the rest of the world also meant that the world was able to reach Kenyans.

Some of the first people to suffer were the cybercafé owners who became obsolete as their former customers were able to afford home Internet connections and even browse on their phones.

The video libraries also woke up one day and found that the online movie applications had eaten their lunch.

As the Safari Tour continues to grow, our professional golfers need to prepare adequately to ensure the same twist of fate that befell cybercafés and video libraries does not leave them hungry.

The quality of their golf needs to be the same or even better than the rest of the African golfers.

Wang’ombe is the General Manager of Kenya Open Golf Limited and Chief Executive Officer of Kenya Golf Union. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Kenya Open Golf Limited or the Kenya Golf Union. 

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