The world of golf has many facets — there are the players, the golf clubs, the equipment, the championships and even the lifestyle around the game. At the end of every year I attempt to review the golfing year locally and globally, and to the many readers who have responded to my requests for input, including the Kenya Golf Union, my sincere thanks.
In early November, I sent out an email to golf captains, clubs and resorts and requested for information touching on significant or noteworthy changes to their respective golf courses, developments and clubs, a highlight of major golf events hosted at their clubs, I asked for info on any junior golf development and what strides clubs had made to further ladies golf at all levels.
I also made inquiries related to developing and supporting golf talent. Sadly, the responses were few and far between, perhaps I wasn’t asking the right questions, or perhaps the golf captains did not have progress to report, a year in golf gone to waste, zero progress, nothing to report. To the captains who responded, again my thanks.
I was hoping for some response from several new golf course developments that were launched in the last two to three years. What progress have they made? Are the courses ready? What happened to the course near the Maasai Mara? Or the one in Machakos, near Konza? Or the Longonot Gate or Buffalo Hills and Hippo Ears and Hyena Toes? What happened to these courses? Are they built? Have investors seen their value climb or plummet?
Courses such as the Swiss International Resort Mount Kenya, complete with a 75-room hotel, apartments and villas was completed in 2017, making it the country’s newest golf course on the slopes of Mount Kenya (I stand to be corrected).
The Kenya Golf Union got a new leader in Muthaiga’s Richard Wanjalla, a veteran golf administrator. Wanjalla can look back at 2017 with pride having led his team in winning the Victoria Cup against Uganda and winning the East Africa Challenge over Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Burundi. However, Kenya’s performance at the All Africa Golf Team Championship was not brilliant. South Africa were victorious again (its getting boring), Zimbabwe, Reunion, Egypt, Zambia, Swaziland and Mauritius were second to seventh respectively, Kenya finished in eight place ahead of Uganda, Tunisia, Namibia, Ghana, Botswana, Tanzania and Angola.
Wanjalla was also part of the Kenya Open Golf Ltd team, led by Peter Kanyago, that staged yet another successful Barclays Kenya Open Golf Championship. The event moved backed to the Muthaiga Golf Club after a four year hiatus.
Unfortunately, and in almost 50 years, Kenyan professionals failed to impress, only three made the CUT and the trophy went to England’s Aaron Rai who has Kenyan roots, a small consolation to the local golf fans. The Kenya Open will celebrate its 50th edition in 2018 and the Kenya Open Golf Ltd are organising a series of events to mark this historic milestone.
Edwin Mudanyi closed the year as Kenya’s highest ranked amateur golfer on the World Amateur Golf Ranking; he is ranked 494th in the world. Nyali’s Daniel Nduva is ranked 1,643, Ag Is Haq is ranked at 1925 and Abdulrahman Sihag is ranked 1925. Mudanyi was crowned the Kenya Amateur Golf Championship (KAGC) winner at the end of a successful 2017 season.
However, my champion was Nduva who finished in sixth place on the KAGC having played in only five of the 18 events. On the ladies side, Kellie Gachaga closed the year as Kenya’s top lady golfer. Kellie has since moved to Dubai to train at the Butch Hammon School of Golf before proceeding to the US on a golf scholarship.
On the global amateur golf scene, Chile’s Joaquin Niemann is the top ranked men amateur golfer, whilst US’s Braden Thonberry, Doug Ghim, Collin Morikawa and Norman Xiong complete the top five at the end of 2017. Ireland’s Leona Maguire finished the year as the top lady amateur with Lilia Kha-Tu Vu and Jennifer Kupcho in second and third spots.
At the end of Week 52, US’s Dustin Johnson was top of the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), beating Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas to second and third spots. Among the top 10 players on the OWGR, five are Americans including on form Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka. Rory McIlroy finished the year in 11th position. The top African on the OWGR is South African Louis Oosthuizen, ranked 23rd, Branden Grace is 30th, Charl Schwartzel is 33rd and Dylan Fritelli is 53rd.
These SA players are only four Africans professional golfers in the top 100 of the OWGR. Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent, Mark Williams and Brendon de Jonge are ranked 319th, 913th and 1239th whilst Zambia’s Madalitso Muthiya is ranked 1,116th. Morocco’s Ahmed Marjane and Karim El Hali are ranked 1,182nd and 1,454th respectively. Nigeria’s Andrew Odoh is ranked 1,596th. The highest ranked Kenyan professional is Stefan Engell Andersen, 108th in Africa and 1,671 globally. The greatest golfer who ever lived, Tiger Woods is ranked 656th.
Among the lady professional golfers, China’s Shanshan Feng is world number one, Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu of Korea are second and third, Lexi Thompson of the US is fourth. Notably New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, is ranked ninth. Of the top 25 ranked professional lady golfers 13 of top 25 are from South Korea.
The 2017 President’s Cup was played at the Liberty National Golf Club, New Jersey, US, and the US team led by Steve Stricker beat the International team led by Nick Price, 19-11. The 2019 edition of the President’s Cup will be played at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
Meanwhile, the 2018 Ryder Cup will be played at Le Golf National, Albatros Course, France.
On the golf Majors, Sergio Garcia won the Masters, Brooks Koepka won the US Open, Jordan Spieth won the Open Championship, chalking up his third Major victory and Justin Thomas won the PGA Championship.
Tiger Woods has not won a Major Championship since the 2008 US Open, where he beat Rocco Mediate in an epic playoff.
Whatever your 2017 golf goals, whatever your 2018 golf aspirations, on behalf of the Business Daily team, happy golfing.