Life & Work

Golf family: Bond that transcends the fairway

BDLGolf

Golf is a sport that forges bonds that often extend beyond the confines of the golf course. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

For many, golf is more than just a game; it's a way of life. It's a sport that brings individuals from diverse backgrounds together, forging bonds that often extend beyond the confines of the golf course.

Like a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered, their journey began on a sunny afternoon at the Windsor Golf Club, from solemn business partners to a close-knit family that is now embarking on golfing adventures together, creating lasting memories on and off the fairway.

Nini Sagwoo, 60, an entrepreneur and the chairman of the interior golf committee, has crafted a distinctive haven for golfers within the Nairobi golfing community. For Nini, the golf course is more than just a recreational spot; it's a second home where his love for the sport thrives. His golfing journey commenced in his thirties and he was immediately hooked.

“Our group started four years ago. It’s a family that feels like home. While we were part of the larger Windsor community, our unity was tested when they hesitated to accept one of our friends. It was in that moment of adversity that we decided to create our own exclusive haven, the Platinum Group, where the bonds are tighter, and the passion for the game burns brighter than ever,” he said.

It all started on a sunny afternoon at the Windsor Golf Club where a group of strangers had converged on the first tee, each carrying a different set of clubs, yet all united by their love of the game. Little did they know that this would be the beginning of a unique journey.

"My golfing journey began in the warm coastal winds of Mombasa. It's where I first fell in love with the sport. I then found myself amidst the golfing communities of Nyali and Mutindo wa Ndei, each leaving an indelible mark on my golfing soul," he said.

He then moved to Nairobi, the city of dreams, where he became a member of the prestigious Windsor and Limuru clubs.

"Golf, for me, is not just a pastime; it's a passion that runs deep in my veins,” said the family man who puts his wife and children before his love for golf. His best single handicap score was an impressive 9, and he is no stranger to competition with leagues lighting up his weekends.

BDLPlatinumGolfers

Nini Sagwoo from Platinum Golfers Club during an interview at Windsor Park, Nairobi on October 14, 2023. PHOTO | BONFACE BOGITA | NMG

"Becoming the captain of the Platinum group, where our camaraderie flourishes, was a moment of immense pride. We get together regularly, and the bonds we've formed on and off the golf course are unbreakable,” he said.

For Osvaldo Juvier, 75, known by his friends as Ozzy, his journey into the sport began at the age of 50. A sports enthusiast with a background in baseball and a multitude of other sports, Ozzy was drawn to the serene charm of golf, not only for its sporting aspect but also for the deep connection it fosters with nature. Walking amidst the breathtaking landscapes of a golf course became a cherished part of his golfing experience.

But it was the social aspect of golf that really captured Ozzy's heart. Through golf, he found not only a sport but a close-knit community.

BDLPlatinumGolfersg

Osvaldo Juvier from Platinum Golfers Club during an interview at Windsor Park, Nairobi on October 14, 2023. PHOTO | BONFACE BOGITA | NMG

"We have a group of golfers, and we call ourselves a social group with a golf problem," Ozzy chuckled. Their bond is not solely tied to the game but extends into a deep friendship that transcends the boundaries of the golf course.

As a dedicated golfer, Ozzy plays three to four times a week, making the most of Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. His handicap, a respectable 17, showcases his dedication to improving his game. When questioned about his approach to golf, he revealed a valuable piece of wisdom.

“I'm not a very long hitter. I tell my friends that this is not a game of distance; it's a game of location. If you can keep your ball on the fairway, you stand a better chance of scoring points than the guy who is a very long hitter,” he offers.

Ozzy's golfing journey has also included international competition. He proudly mentioned their participation in the Kenya League, where clubs compete against each other. Their last tournament of the year was Windsor versus Segona at Segona.

With an impressive 80 percent of Kenya's golf courses under his belt, Ozzy's golfing adventures extended to places known for challenging layouts and unique features. His favourite golf-related souvenir? The coveted hole-in-one trophy.

"I have tried to play as many golf courses in Kenya as possible, and I have played in about 80 percent of all the golf courses in Kenya, the trophy for doing a hole-in-one is the favourite,” he said.

Yet, Ozzy's golfing journey wasn't just about the sport. It was about the community. He stumbled upon the golf group by chance when he became a member of Windsor in 2015. Through chance encounters on the golf course, strangers soon became friends, and over the years, these friendships blossomed into an incredible social group, creating a golfing family that he treasures deeply.

Now semi-retired, Ozzy enjoys the best of both worlds. His love of golf is shared by his wife, allowing them to not only spend quality time together both at home and on the golf course. Ozzy's overseas golfing experiences further enriched his love for the game.

"We have the most incredible social group I have ever experienced in my whole life,” he said

For Jamie Papa, 49, her relationship with golf dates back to her early childhood at the age of 11, growing up in the United States. However, it was when she arrived in Kenya four years ago to work at the US Embassy that she learned of the Platinum Group through a member, who extended an invitation. And for the past two years, she's been a cherished part of this golfing family.

"We've been playing with the group for about two years now," she says.

Jamie's family belonged to a country club in America, which laid the foundation for her golfing endeavours. An unfortunate injury that prevented her from playing football steered Jamie toward golf.

"I have played a lot of great (golf)courses, but I think the Lynx at Sand Court in South Africa was my favourite course,” She said.

Jamie's golfing journey has been marked by unforgettable moments, such as a hole-in-one in Arizona, an exhilarating achievement that took 35 years of golfing to reach. It was a moment of perfection, with a large gallery witnessing her remarkable shot, however in Kenya, Jamie plays golf about twice a week, mainly on weekends, and she currently boasts a handicap of 17.

BDLPlatinumGolfersi

Jami Papa from Platinum Golfers Club during an interview at Windsor Park, Nairobi on October 14, 2023. PHOTO | BONFACE BOGITA | NMG

Jamie's extensive travels have allowed her to experience golf in various countries worldwide. Notable experiences include playing in South Africa, Australia, China, Ireland, the UK, Canada, and Afghanistan, where she even had the opportunity to play on a unique but somewhat challenging golf course.

A golfer with a bucket list, Jamie still aspires to play at the iconic St Andrews course. In retirement, she and her husband dream of tackling the Robert Trent Jones Trail.

Golf is often seen as a game of precision, patience, and technique, but it's much more than that for many enthusiasts. For Patrick Munge, a member of Windsor Golf Club, golf, is about friendship, camaraderie, and unforgettable moments on the course.

BDLPlatinumGolfersm

Patrick Munge from Platinum Golfers Club during an interview at Windsor Park, Nairobi on October 14, 2023. PHOTO | BONFACE BOGITA | NMG

"I found another warmth of people, just completely amazing. People accept you, and you enjoy, you struggle. They tell you not to give up, and you just keep going," said Munge, who only started golfing four years ago.

Living on the side of town near Windsor, Patrick saw the club as a natural choice. However, joining a prestigious club like Windsor wasn't as straightforward as he initially thought.

It was through business connections that he found his way into Windsor. A fellow businessman offered to recommend him for membership, and Patrick found himself quickly welcomed into the fold.

As a relatively new golfer, Patrick faced the usual challenges and uncertainties of being on the course. But a chance encounter with Nini proved to be a turning point.

"We played a game, and wow, that was amazing," Patrick said. His desire to meet others in the club led him to form the Platinum Group with Nini and other fellow golfers. From this small beginning, a strong bond and a love for the game have flourished.

As for golf-related souvenirs, Patrick cherishes the gift he received for his hole-in-one, highlighting its significance to him. When it comes to golfing in different countries, Patrick has played in South Africa and the US, bringing a global touch to his golfing experiences.

While some golfers have specific rituals and superstitions, Patrick prefers to keep his mind focused on the task at hand, striving to make the best shot. His golfing routine is grounded in a mental approach rather than superstitions.

"Initially, I used to hear that you need to have all sorts of things. I mean, golfers are so superstitious. I'm not in that category. I just believe that I need to pay attention to every shot of mine. So I will dial my mind into trying to get a good golf shot. I don't have any specific rituals that I do, but I try to calm myself and just think about what is at hand at that time. It's not always easy, but sometimes it works,” He said.

“As for balancing family, work, and golf, I'm way past the point where it's a struggle. My daughter is now in her thirties. I started early, so I'm lucky. There's no conflict, no conflict at all. I only have one child, and I'm widowed, and that's it,” He added.

One of Patrick's most memorable golfing experiences abroad happened in Cape Town during a competitive game. A challenging chip led to a birdie on the final hole, securing victory for his team and creating unforgettable memories.

“I've had memorable golfing experiences abroad as well. One that stands out was in Cape Town during a competition within our group. It was a tough game, and towards the last hole, our team was all square, which means whoever won the hole would have won the game,” He said.

Golf, often referred to as the "gentleman's game," has a unique allure that captivates individuals from all walks of life Muthoni Jjuguna., a prominent news producer, found herself drawn into the world of golf in 2018, setting forth on a journey that would forever change her life and perspective on sports.

"I started playing golf in 2018. I was always attracted to golf and I was the first in my profession, I'm a news producer," she begins.

Muthoni's initial entry into the world of golf wasn't immediate. It was her experience as a film production enthusiast that catalysed her journey into the realm of golf.

The turning point came when the organisation she worked for began sponsoring golf events. Muthoni’s exposure to the golfing community piqued her interest. She couldn't help but notice the camaraderie, the shared joy, and the inherent beauty of the game. It wasn't long before she decided to trade her role as a spectator for that of a participant.

"And so eventually when I was able to have time and to get into it, I got into it," She affirms.

Muthoni initially joined the ranks of golfers at Sigona Golf Club, where she ventured into her newfound passion. Although she's no longer a member at Sigona, she continues to hold a soft spot for the club, fondly reminiscing about the beauty of its course. Her journey eventually led her to two other golfing havens – Limuru and Windsor Golf Clubs.

BDLPlatinumGolfersk

Muthoni Njuguna from Platinum Golfers Club during an interview at Windsor Park, Nairobi on October 14, 2023. PHOTO | BONFACE BOGITA | NMG

Her deep connection with golf isn't only about the sport itself but extends to the profound sense of peace, camaraderie, and fulfilment that the golfing community provides. She views golf as a mental and emotional journey, a reflection of one's character both on and off the course.

"Golf to me is a moment to let out and to express myself in a sporty way, If your head is not together, like psychologically not together, you will not have a good round of golf," she asserts. Her deep understanding of the mental game has helped her succeed and find calm both on and off the course.

Over the years, Muthoni has accumulated a wealth of memorable moments in golf, with each one etching a unique mark in her heart. Some of these moments have arisen from charity events, emphasizing her belief that golf has the power to serve a greater cause.

"I played charity golf for the Rotary in Karen and emerged as the lady winner sometime back," she shares, highlighting the heartwarming and purposeful nature of the sport.

Muthoni’s journey isn't just a solitary one; she's embraced the spirit of golfing together with others.

"When I joined Windsor, I was just sitting somewhere, and the captain for the Platinum group came," Muthoni explains. With her warmth and affinity for the golfing community, Madonna seamlessly integrated herself into the Platinum group at Windsor Golf Club.

Greg Brackenroid, a retired banker with a lifelong passion for golf, has a journey that crisscrosses continents, cultures, and even a bit of serendipity.

Greg's golfing frequency varies with work commitments, but he does his best to squeeze in a game once a week. His humility shines through when he declares, "I'm not a souvenir collector," emphasizing that memories are more valuable to him than tangible items. In the realm of rituals, he has one - never carrying a spare golf ball on the tee box.

His ideal golfing weather mirrors Nairobi's enviable conditions - abundant sunshine, a gentle breeze, and a resolute absence of rain. As for his love for golf, he acknowledges that balancing it with family life can be challenging. A 20-year hiatus from golf during his children's younger years speaks to the sacrifices made to prioritize family.

“When I was younger, I took a break from playing golf for 20 years. This decision was influenced by the fact that I had a young family and a demanding work schedule. At the time, dedicating four hours to a game of golf over the weekend meant taking away precious time that I should have been spending with my wife and children. Given that I was often not at home during the week or arrived home late, I felt it wouldn't be fair to further separate myself from my family by spending extended hours on the golf course during the weekends,” he said.

[email protected]