Why are not BetIn, SportPesa, mCheza, Lotto and all the other sport betting and lottery companies sponsoring golf in Kenya? After all, no other sportsmen bet more than golfers do. That’s a fact. Speak to any amateur golfer, betting is rampant, bets are made on nett scores, on match plays, on hitting the fairway and hitting the green and so on and so forth.
Golf’s official “policy on gambling” is contained under the Rules of Amateur Status that define an “amateur golfer” as someone who plays competitively or recreationally for the challenge of the game and not as a professional and not for financial gain.
The Rules of Golf, explicitly prohibit amateurs from playing for prize money of any amount (Rule 3-1), but the rules distinguish between playing for prize money and gambling or wagering among and between the players. The rules say gambling is not contrary to the Rules of Golf or to Rule 7-2 (An amateur golfer must not take any action, including actions relating to golf gambling, that is contrary to the purpose of the Rules).
The Rules of Golf go even further and list “Acceptable Forms of Gambling” stating “there is no objection to informal gambling or wagering among individual golfers or team of golfers when it is incidental to the game (www.randa.org).
Golfers participating in informal gambling are expected to be familiar with one another, the wagering is optional and limited to the players, the source of all money is advanced only to the players and the amount of money involved is not excessive (www.randa.org).
The Rules of Golf add that informal gambling is acceptable but the primary purpose of playing should be enjoyment and not financial gain.
The Rules of Golf discourage non-players from participating in wagering—so, if you have been betting on a “horse” at your local golf club, in a game you were not participating in, then you acted contrary to the rules. Similarly, Kenyan golfers who have lost their Mercedes Benz cars in golf bets were surely acting contrary to the Rules of Golf and might I add, common sense.
What are the lessons here? Firstly, that golf and gambling go hand in hand; nearly all golf games involve some form of wager, mainly small to insignificant, but occasionally off the limits set by the rules. Secondly, the Rules of Golf clearly define how golfers may bet or wager. In other words, gambling or wagering is already regulated.
So back to the original question, why aren’t the sports betting companies sponsoring golf? Amateur golf presents many opportunities for sponsorship, the Nairobi District League for example is prime for sponsorship, the banter and comradeship at the league, the conversations that follow the wins and losses are a gold mine for a sponsor. And listen, the league is played in the matchplay format, and everyone bets. trust me, each match has a wager. These are you clients, sponsor them.