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Why traditions are part and parcel of the game of golf

GOLF By Vincent Wangombe | May 28th 2021
[Photo: Courtesy

Ever since golfers put club to ball, they sought to have some rules that governed the game. Undoubtedly, there must have been many versions of the rules and flavours of the game depending on where the game was played.

It was not until 1744 when the Gentlemen Golfers of Leith sat and wrote the original 13 Rules of Golf. These were adopted not just in Scotland but found their way across the golfing world.

As golf clubs were formed, they developed their own interpretations of the rules and it was not until 1897 that the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (The R&A), was invited by the leading clubs of the time to produce a uniform code. This created an enduring tradition that has stayed to date.

The only golf club in Kenya with the same Royal Charter as the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews is the Royal Nairobi Golf Club. As the most influential club when golf was still a budding sport in Kenya, it became their role to organise the clubs with the aim of ensuring that the local golfers were not alienated from golfers around the world.

In 1928, during the Easter Tournament at the Nairobi Golf Club (this was before they received their Royal Charter from King George V in 1935), the participating clubs agreed to form a body that would act as the umbrella body for golf in Kenya.

On 29th December 1928, the Kenya Golf Union was formed and the president of Nairobi Golf Club that year, Mr Arthur Tannahill, was elected as the first president of the union. One of the mandates given to the Kenya Golf Union at its formation was to co-operate with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.

This mandate has remained to date with affiliation to other bodies like the International Golf Federation and the Kenya National Olympic Committee having been added in later years.  

Today, the Kenya Golf Union is holding its Annual General Meeting to appoint office bearers who will guide the game of golf for the next one year. The gentleman of Kenyan golf, Ben Omuodo from Royal Nairobi Golf Club, the 92nd head of the Union, will be handing over the mantle of leadership of golf in Kenya to his successor, Peter Kiguru from Sigona Golf Club.

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

Omuodo has served in various capacities at KGU for seven years now. Even though he has been at the helm during a very difficult time due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he will be credited with leading the Union through the adoption of the World Handicap System among other reforms.

The other officials who will be elected at today’s Annual General Meeting will be the Vice Chairman, George Gathu from Kenya Airforce Golf Club, Honorary Treasurer Njani Ndiritu from Vet Lab Sports Club and Honorary Secretary Philip Ochola from Muthaiga Golf Club.

There are nine nominees for the six positions of KGU Executive. The General Council of the union will today vote for the six who will serve for the next one year.

The nine nominees are Chris Kinuthia (Thika Sports Club), Chris Muchugu (Njoro Country Club), Collins Ojiambo (Karen Country Club), David Ndungu (Limuru Country Club), Joe Kehara (Kenya Railway Golf Club), Karugu Macharia (Windsor Golf and Country Club), Martin Nyaga (Kiambu Golf Club), Fr. Peter Kimani (Ruiru Sports Club), and Taufiq Balala (Nyali Golf and Country Club).

The beauty of the traditions set over the years is that Peter Kiguru does not start from zero when he takes over from Ben Omuodo. Kiguru has been at the Union for six years and is fully aware of the challenges that golfers are facing at the moment.

As the 93rd head of the Union, he will be charged with the responsibility of ensuring that Kenyan golfers continue to abide by the Rules and traditions.

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

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