Kenyan golf officials plan expanded game

Patrick Obath, Kenya Open Golf Ltd tournament director. photo | CHRIS OMOLLO | nmg
Patrick Obath, Kenya Open Golf Ltd tournament director. photo | CHRIS OMOLLO | nmg 

The Kenya Open Golf Ltd (KOGL) and Barclays Bank of Kenya, the title sponsors of the Kenya Open Golf Championship, are in discussions to structure a local golf Tour.

According to the KOGL Tournament Director, Patrick Obath, the Tour will serve to prepare local golf professionals for the Kenya Open.

“We are desirous to host up to eight Pro-Am events before the 2018 Barclays Kenya Open and these events will give our pros the opportunity to practice through 72-holes under championship conditions.

‘‘The Tour will also give the pros an opportunity to earn prize money and perhaps more importantly, the Tour will be used to generate a point system to rank the pros — this will be the de facto qualification system into the Kenya Open going forward,” Obath said.

“We will work closely with the KGU to ensure the Tour also serves our top elite amateurs and in some of the legs, if not all, we will incorporate a junior development programme to tap and grow talent at the grassroots.”

The Tour and enhanced 2018 Barclays Kenya Open is as a result of a call from President Uhuru Kenyatta, during the prize giving ceremony of the 2017 championship, for a bigger championship in 2018 with a $1m (Sh103 million) prize kitty — signalling the start of a new chapter in the history of the championship.

According to KOGL Chairman Peter Kanyago the call was timely. “The 2018 Barclays Kenya Open will mark the 50th edition of this prestigious championship and we have walked this far with the invaluable assistance of President Kenyatta and former President Mwai Kibaki; their contribution to the sport has been priceless,” he said.

“Our sponsors, led by Barclays Bank, have been crucial to our success; they have provided the necessary funds and other logistical support making it possible to stage this championship year on year.”

Commenting on the proposed Tour, Kanyago said that the idea of a six to eight part Tour was the result of consultations.

“We engaged the European Challenge Tour, the Professional Golfers of Kenya, PGK and our partners and agreed that an enhanced 2018 Barclays Kenya Open would include a Tour played around the country,” he said.

“Barclays Bank, our title sponsors, have been very supportive and I am assured that other corporates and government organs will join us in raising the profile of this event.”

This weekend at the Eldoret Golf Club, Barclays Bank and the Kenya Open Golf Ltd will host an amateur golf tournament with members from host club Eldoret and guests from Kitale, Nandi, Kericho, Kakamega and Mumias.

“This would have been our first event on the Tour, however our professionals are currently playing in Kampala and they requested that we move the start of the Tour to accommodate that, we agreed,” Kanyago added.

“The full dates of the Tour and venues will be communicated in due course.”