On Saturday last week, Stanley Gikunda was running his everyday errands in Nanyuki town when he came across children’s practice runs for Safaricom Golf Tour at Kano Grounds. The father of two went back home to get his 8-year-old daughter Hilda Wangari and in no time, she was on the makeshift golf pitch taking her first small steps towards what could very well be her journey towards being a pro. That was on the eve of a bigger kiddie golf tournament and sure enough, the next day the duo showed up at Nanyuki Sports club for Hilda’s first taste of a real golf course.
Hilda’s story may sound simple, but it is a strong representation of the power of outreach. As her father put it, as much as his young daughter is keen on sports, he would never have thought of introducing her to golf mainly because of lack of access. But here she was taking advantage of an opportunity and being a natural on day one. With many more Hildas out there, the seven months of the golf tour will birth a new crop of golfers that will ensure the continuity of the game. As is the aim of the tour, the elite tag that is traditionally associated with golf will be watered down and more players drawn into the game.
We had the opportunity to speak to another young golfer – Belinda Wanjiru who emerged best in the junior girls’ tournament.
Belinda is not new to golf, having started playing mini golf at school. Her interest was sparked after she watched players on TV and she decided to give it a go. She ended up really loving the sport and her teachers encouraged her parents to sign her up for lessons. Things have been upwards from there and she’s now already winning awards. She would like to encourage other kids to try golf because it is a good way to stay occupied and to exercise. Her favourite things about the Nanyuki Golf course are that it is challenging, and the games are fast.
Justine Ngeera who took home the Junior Boys’ title was introduced to golf by his grandparents. He picked it up very fast because it was fun for him, and soon enough he was not only playing over holidays and weekends but weekdays as well. He loves the game because it is challenging and possibilities for game direction are endless.
The Nanyuki course is the most unpredictable that Justine has played on, and he loves it for that. He would like to kill the myth that golf is boring, which is a perception among many people. You never know until you try it, he says.
Justine is very grateful to Safaricom for the tour, and he hopes there will be more and more of these.
Nanyuki Sports Club is a one thousand members strong club which was started in the twenties as a horse-riding club before other activities including golf were introduced. The club whose majority of members are from Nanyuki has many games including squash and swimming, and of course golf which has around one hundred golfers with a strong patronage.
The golf captain at the club Mr. William Njoroge describes the golf course as small and challenging, a sentiment that is echoed by other people who played there especially for the first time. He is grateful to Safaricom for not only giving the club the opportunity to be part of the tour, but also for the opportunity to improve the local economy.
The logistics around the tour came with a lot for locals who were contracted for event set up, decorations, food supply and other business opportunities. The tour was also a windfall for local caddies. This empowerment falls right into Safaricom’s brand philosophy of transforming lives.
The seven-month tour will go ahead and cover the golf courses in Limuru, Muthaiga, Nyanza, Nyali, Eldoret, Karen, Machakos, Kericho, Kitale, Royal Nairobi, Nakuru, Kenya Airforce, Vet labs, and end with a grand finale at Vipingo Ridge. With the benefits of the Nanyuki leg evident, it is easy to see that the complete tour will have a big positive ripple effect not just in the game itself, but to local economies.