Last Sunday at Karen Country Club, I had the pleasure of speaking with the father son duo that is Simon Kibe and seven-year-old Jeff Kibe. Simon is the General Manager of Nanyuki Sports club which played host to the first leg of the Safaricom Golf Tour back in January. He had brought his son to Karen for the junior golf tournament that was taking place that Sunday.
Jeff is a winning golfer who started playing at the age of 4 and has continued to craft his game under the stewardship of his father who is also an avid golfer. For this tour for instance, he has gone on and come first in his category in all the tournaments he has taken part in. He has so far bagged his home club Nanyuki, plus Limuru, Muthaiga, Machakos, and Karen golf clubs. With this streak, it is clear that there are bigger things coming to the young boy whose favourite club is the driver.
Jeff loves golf because aside from winning gifts and medals, he gets to have fun, socialize with his friends, and play with his father. According to Simon, there is a marked improvement even in life skills since the boy took up golf. He can see his son shaping up into a disciplined timekeeper, and a calm focused youngster both at home and in school. His social skills are also tops and that is something that can also be attributed to the intersection between golf and real life.
With the tour being slightly past midway, this was a perfect time to meet Simon who painted a picture of the wave that the tour it is leaving in its wake so far. He is elated that a new dawn is here for the game of golf, with increased interest and activities in the clubs. Speaking specifically about Nanyuki Sports Club he says that there was an immediate spike in junior registration and a general revamp in enthusiasm after playing host. Kids are excited to indulge more, and parents are happy to register them and bring them to the club.
On their part, the club management have since taken up the role of building junior golf with initiatives like sponsoring further clinics and tournaments. The club also started periodically closing off the course for juniors at dedicated times. Other than hugely motivating the kids, this also gives them a perfect opportunity to learn and play uninterrupted and it has sunk well with the kids and adult members alike. The first time the course was solely dedicated to juniors was during the Safaricom Golf Tour Nanyuki leg and this is something that the club intends to carry on. Hopefully other clubs can follow suite.
Simon is a big believer in junior golf and is grateful for the input of Safaricom through the golf tour, and organizations like Junior Golf Foundation which has the ability to reorganize the game with the right support. With this momentum, he hopes to see leaps in growth to a point where we have golf academies like is the case with other sports like football and rugby. He urges Government to also join in and participate through support like financing and facilitation.
When kids start playing at a younger age, the precision that golf demands gets into their systems and by the time they’re older and playing in bigger leagues they are naturals at the swing. This, according to Simon, is why the tour will have great results in a few years to come. We wish young Jeff all the best and we are rooting for his journey to the very top of this great game.
The next destination for the Safaricom Golf Tour at Nyali Golf Club this coming weekend and we can’t wait to see what awaits down at the coast.