Following failure of the short rains in 2018 and the delayed long rains in 2019, golf clubs across the country have continued to present less than ideal golf courses – and understandably so, its been dry everywhere. Indeed, for the first time in many years, Kenya’s top golf club team event, the Tanahill Shield, played over the Easter weekend, was dry.
Similarly, the Magical Kenya Open, played in the second week of March was also dry – not a drop of rain, just firm lies, dry rough and toughgreens.
Those who manage golf courses had to ration their water reserves, sacrificing the rough and fairways to keep the tees and greens in good shape – as it should be. One golf course that seemed immune to the weather conditions was the Thika Sports Club, a 18-hole layout just North of Thika Town.
Thika is where I learnt the game of golf and where I became golf captain in the early 2000s, for two years, but do I say! Having not played the Thika course in over one year, I didn’t know what to expect over the Easter weekend, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a course in pristine condition despite the harsh weather conditions.
So why is Thika green? I have a simple theory that includes good husbandry. The green keeping team at Thika has worked extra hard preparing the course for the harsh climatic conditions in that part of the country. Trees have been planted continuously over the years, creating a micro-climate that mitigates against the dry weather conditions, the Kikuyu grass fairways have been well looked after and the use of the scarce water resource has been scientific.
And for many years, perhaps over 30, Thika has continued to mulch their fairways with tobacco waste supplied generously by BAT Thika. As a result the fairways sit on a well mulched and drained soil base, perhaps second to none in this country.
The result of years of applying tobacco waste, tonnes upon tonnes of it over 30 plus years, has resulted in lush fairways, pleasant to the eye, excellent greens, well nurtured and true.
Thika is now moving to bent grass greens, renewing their greens one at a time. The long par-3 sixth hole now boasts a new much larger green that is considerably more flat and the fifth green is a beauty!
The downhill par-3 fourth is currently being rebuilt and hopefully the golf designer will bring the water feature to the left into play on this hole.
The uphill par-4 13th has a brand new green and you will be pleased to learn that the big deep bunker at the back of that green has been removed! The 10th, 11th and 12th are being prepared for renovation and the 14th, another well-designed par-4 also boasts of a new green.
The short hole 16th was flattened and it now presents a much bigger green. The trees to the left of the 17th fairway are now skyscrapers and long gone are the days we used to cut the corner with well our drives – lay up short of the water hazard or drop shots.
The 18th, a par-4 at Thika, includes a water feature around the green and this has added much character to an already challenging hole. The water feature, complete with a fountain, is situated next to the clubhouse, changing the face of the club for the better.
All these changes at Thika and across the country require money – it is expensive to fund golf course renovations and to maintain a golf course in such good shape, and the members of Thika must be proud that their management continues to spend their resources prudently, the results are clear.
At less than Sh3,000 green fee for 18-holes, I highly recommend a round of golf at the Thika Sports Club, it is well worth the money! Thank me later.