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No balloons at Magical Kenya Open but it'll be fun

GOLF By Vincent Wangombe | March 12th 2021
[Photo: Courtesy]

My very first experience of the Kenya Open Championship was as a young boy back in 1984 at the Muthaiga Golf Club.

Advertising of tobacco was still allowed back then and the tournament was sponsored by the 555 brand.

I accompanied my father to the golf course but soon lost interest and wandered off to look for some excitement.

I saw an outside catering van from InterContinental Hotel and since I always had room for one more snack, I had to get something from them. I bought a samosa and it was the tastiest I had ever eaten.

As I was savouring the samosa, nibbling it so that it lasts longer, my attention was drawn to the activities that were laid out by the various sponsors.

All had fun and games set out for the people who had come to watch the 555 Kenya Open.

I was drawn by the DT Dobie stand for obvious reasons — they had cars. There was one Datsun pick up truck that was filled with balloons and one of the things we were required to do was guess how many they were. I lost track of time as I was engaged in the games and watched as other people tried their luck.

The next thing I noticed was a fairly large crowd following one group. The one person that drew my attention was a man that I had only seen on TV and on a poster of Kenya's Cabinet Ministers  that was on the wall of my classroom; the then Vice President of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki.

I ran up to him and shook his hand. He was following the sudden-death playoff between José María Cañizares and David Russell.

I joined in and followed the exciting moment as the two players had to play a few holes to decide who would be the winner of the tournament.

Cañizares was the eventual champion of the tournament and I went home content.

At this year’s Magical Kenya Open, we will have the son of the 1984 winner, Alejandro Cañizares, but unfortunately, we shall not have the fun and games that we used to expect in the previous editions of the tournament. The fun balloons will now be replaced by a restrictive bubble.

The players and officials will be tested for Covid-19 and only when they post negative results, will they be allowed to enter the bubble that will consist of the hotel where they are staying and the Karen Country Club.

The Magical Kenya Open will be staged without any spectators on the golf course except for a handful of sponsors' guests. These restrictions are necessary to keep us all safe during these Covid-19 times.

The silver lining at the Magical Kenya Open and second event, the Kenya Savannah Classic is that we shall have KTN TV broadcast the action live from Karen Country Club.

We may not count the balloons while inside the bubble, but it is time for the sponsors to use their creative juices to find ways to keep their audience entertained using TV on the side of the two international golf events.

All is set for the Magical Kenya Open and the Kenya Savannah Classic. Let the fun and games begin. 


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

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