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Society

Give our young golfers a chance

Jordan Spieth poses with the trophy after
Jordan Spieth poses with the trophy after winning the US Open Championship at Chambers Bay last weekend in University Place, Washington. Older Kenyan golfers have an obligation to exit the stage and give room to juniors. PHOTO | AFP 

If you watched the US Open last week you may have noticed a list of young players that the broadcasters presented — it was a list of the highest ranked players under 30 years.

That list included the world’s top ranked golfer, Rory McIlroy, who is 26; 21-year-old Jordan Alexander Spieth who won at Chambers Bay and claimed his second Major of the year, Ricky Fowler 26, Jason Day 27, Hideki Matsuyama 23, Patrick Reed 24, Billy Horchel 28 and Brooks Koepka 25.

Spieth won the Masters at Augusta earlier in the year, a victory he executed in style, winning by a four stroke margin with a score of 18-under par.

You may be forgiven for saying he was lucky at the US Open, but his one shot victory was enough to give him the second major of the year, opening up the possibility of an unprecedented calendar grand slam.

Spieth is closing the gap on McIlroy at the top of the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR), and the other youngsters are not far behind. Jason Day is ranked 8th on the OWGR, Fowler is 10th, Matsuyama 14th and Reed 15th.

In fact all these youngsters are in the top 20 of the OWGR with the exception of Koepka who is ranked 22nd. And in the bank, these kids mean business; Spieth has amassed Sh748m in prize money in 2015 alone and leads the PGA Tour money list.

McIlroy is doing poorly, he has only earned Sh411m this year (about Sh2.3 million per day in the last six months). Fowler, Day, Matsuyama, Koepka and Reed have all earned about Sh260m this year while Horchel has banked Sh133m (poor guy!)

Fast forward to Kenya and the question begs, where are our juniors? Who is being groomed to chase Spieth and Fowler and Day? As clubs prepare to stage their championships, on whom are you betting? A 45-year-old pot-bellied company executive who has played off a handicap of six for eternity or a youngster who is playing from scratch?

Do such youngsters even exist? Does your golf club groom talent? Or are all opportunities to play taken by 45 to 40- year-old balding men and 50-year-old grandmothers?

Does your club give preference to grandmothers over juniors? Does it tell young girls to wait their turn as grandmas drag their creaking bones around the golf course, shooting scores that are only acceptable in Snakes and Ladders?

Missed the cut

In 2012, Spieth was T21 at the US Open, he was still an amateur golfer at the time; in 2013 he missed the cut at the US Open and the PGA Championship and finished T44 at The Open. In 2014 he was T2 at the Masters, T17 at the US Open, T36 at The Open and missed the cut at the PGA Championship.

In 2015 he has won the Masters and the US Open. As a junior, Spieth won the US Junior in 2009 and 2011 and was named Junior Player of the Year in 2009.

In other words, to get a Kenyan Spieth we have to go to the junior ranks, we have to find and nurture a pool of talent from the kiddie ranks, not the caddie ranks.

Older golfers also have an obligation to exit the stage and give room to juniors. It is a great shame to see senior citizens with no future in golf denying juniors an opportunity to practice and play.

This weekend, as you tee at your local golf course, ask yourself if your club is supporting junior golf. Give room to juniors and support the emergence of Kenya’s Spieth.

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