Barclays Kenya Open Golf Championship tees off

Barclays Bank of Kenya, 2018 edition, will  have a total prize kitty of Sh62.5 million. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Barclays Bank of Kenya, 2018 edition, will have a total prize kitty of Sh62.5 million. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The 2018 Barclays Kenya Open Golf Championship was officially launched this week in a ceremony attended by Cabinet Secretaries Najib Balala and Hassan Wario for Tourism and Sports respectively and their principal secretaries Fatuma Hirsi and Kirimi Kaberia.

Barclays Bank of Kenya and the Kenya Open Golf Ltd announced that the 2018 edition would have a total prize kitty of Sh62.5 million and that the event would be preceded by the Barclays Bank of Kenya Golf Tour that will visit Karen, Thika, Nyali, Kisumu, Nyeri and Nakuru.

According to Jeremy Awori, the Barclays Bank MD, the bank’s sponsorship for 2018 includes Sh50 million towards the event and another Sh32 million for a six-tournament series that would feature amateur players and junior golfers.

“2018 marks the most memorable of milestones for the Barclays Kenya Open as it reaches its 50th Anniversary and in this most special of years, I know everybody involved in the organising of this magnificent event is working towards making it the biggest and most memorable of the European Challenge Tour 2018 calendar,” said Awori.

Kenya Open Golf Limited (KOGL) Chairman, Peter Kanyago, lauded Barclays Bank of Kenya for their continued support, saying it is such partnerships that have continually enhanced the stature of the event into what it is today.

“At KOGL we are pleased to announce that we are working with our Title Sponsors Barclays, the Ministry of Sports, the Ministry of Tourism, the Nairobi City County and other long term sponsors and partners, to not only grow the Kenya Open Golf Championship in 2018 and beyond, but also to improve the standard of golf in Kenya,” he said.

“We will soon announce initiatives led by the Kenya Golf Union to work with golf from the junior ranks to our elite amateur ranks. We are also in talks with our professionals and we are equally focussed on working with them.”

The launch took place on the rooftop of the Kenyatta International Conference Centre with various people “teeing-off” from the rooftop of the 28-storey building in unique and iconic fashion. The tee-off was led by Balala and Wario who sent their balls flying off the rooftop into the Nairobi skyline. For those wondering where the golf balls went, or whether people and property were in danger – they weren’t; extra light plastic golf balls were used for the launch, they floated to the ground harmlessly.

Similar golf tee-offs have been staged around the world, producing iconic images that have promoted destinations and tourism sites.

For example, in October 1977, golf legend Arnold Palmer, aka The King, hit a golf ball from the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and that image of Palmer, hitting a ball from a platform 270 metres plus high became one of golf’s most iconic images.

In October 2017, the two Ryder Cup Captains, Thomas Bjørn for Europe and Jim Furyk for USA recreated that iconic moment hitting golf balls off the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Traditionally winners of the US Open and the Masters conduct “trophy-tours” in the USA, visiting sites such as the Observation Deck at the Empire State building. Today, images of celebrity lady pro-golfer Michelle Wie and those of Sergio Garcia the 2017 Masters winner, litter the internet, promoting the building and New York in equal measure.

Other similarly iconic images include those of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy hitting golf balls off the helipad of the Burj Al Arab. This helipad has also hosted a tennis “match” between Roger Federer and Andre Agassi and F1 driver David Coulthard, Redbull Team has done stunts with his car on this rooftop.

In New Delhi, golfers routinely take photos at India Gate and the Las Vegas sign features in many iconic golf photos. The images from the KICC rooftop now join these iconic global images and they too will go a long way in promoting Kenya’s foremost conference facility - KICC, the City of Nairobi and Kenya as a conference and tourism destination.