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Kenyan golf courses remain in shape despite virus-enforced inactivity

Traffic on most of Kenya’s golf courses is currently low because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected the sporting activities all over the world, reports nation.co.ke.

And since the Kenya Golf Union (KGU) suspended all golf competitions, as well ordered the closure of the golf club houses, only a handful of golfers have been seen in golf courses.

And the few who have visited the clubs are either practising on the golf range, or playing a few holes since the caddies are not available to offer their usual services.

However, even in the absence of golfers, green keepers and course managers are busy making sure the golf facilities are in their best condition such that they will be ready to host any event once competition resumes.

One of the six 18-hole golf courses in the greater Nairobi Metropolis, (others are Royal Nairobi Golf Club, Muthaiga, Sigona, Limuru and Vet Lab Sports Club), Karen has been intermittently hosting the annual Kenya Open golf championship since 1967.

Last year, however, Karen had the honour of becoming the first course in the country to host the Open, now known as the Magical Kenya Open, in its new status as a European Tour event.

Before the government suspended all social gathering activities in the country in order to stop the spreading of Coronavirus, Karen Country Club was to host the Magical Kenya Open from March 12 to 15.

“It was obviously disappointing for us in the course management as we had done everything to make sure that the course was in a better condition than in 2019. All the same, we will keep on working and making sure the course stays in the same condition and ready for any major event, be it the Kenya Open or other international tournaments,’’ said Daniel Kiboi, the Course Superintendent.

One of the most respected course superintendents or green-keepers in the country, Kiboi says his team is working on the course as usual to make sure that Karen maintains its reputation and stature.

“Usually, the European tour officials tell us how they want the course set for the open, and so we do exactly that, but even after the open, we have our programme, which we strictly follow to make sure that the course looks great and in acceptable condition.’’

He says a number of club members are using the course every day but that does not stop him and his staff from preparing the course.

“The course workers are there and they are continuing with their day-to-day activities of cutting the grass on the fairways and repairing bunkers,’’ said Kiboi who has been the course superintendent at Karen for the past six years.

At Muthaiga Golf Club, which is basically the home of golf in the country because of the fact that, it hosts the 90-year-old Kenya Golf Union and its subsidiary bodies, club captain Snehal Patel said: “The course is taking a real beating due to the current weather but we have amazing course and ground staff. This coupled with the help from caddies is keeping the course in good shape and more than ready when golf activities resume in the country.’’

Patel said the club has started charging members a small fee of Sh300 per round. He said he was using the money to give caddies some basic maintenance jobs on the course like repairing divots, pitch marks and looking after bunkers as they currently don’t have any jobs to support themselves.

“I have put them in a rota system so as many as possible get the opportunity to earn something,” he said.

“For now, we are just happy that we can keep the course open for members and maintain it well despite the adverse weather conditions.’’

Nyali Golf and Country Club green keeper Gulam Khaku said the course remained in its usual tip-top condition despite the current rains at the Coast.

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