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History beckons as top golfers meet at Vipingo

Naomi Wafula
Naomi Wafula prepares her tee during the Ladies Invitational Golf Tournament held at Vipingo Ridge. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Next week, history will be made at the Baobab Course at Vipingo Ridge, Kilifi. Over 100 of the world’s top lady golf professionals will be flying to the beautiful Kenyan Coast to play in the Magical Kenya Ladies Open, part of the Ladies European Tour. This will be the final event on 2019 season of the LET and as such it has attracted the very cream of the tour. This will be the first time that the LET will be played in East Africa and the event in Vipingo will be only the third on the African continent.

Action at Vipingo will kick off with the ProAm on Wednesday the December 4 – this will include a few extremely lucky amateur golfers who will get to play along the professionals and experience first-hand just how brilliant these ladies are on the course. The main event will be played from the 5th to 8th Dec, 2019, starting with a full field of 108 players over round one and two and reducing to 60 players plus ties over rounds three and four.

The four-day 72-hole competition, with a prize Sh33 million, will be televised live to over 270 million views across the world.What they will see is not only the golfers in action, but also the immaculately manicured Baobab Course, the Indian Ocean in the distance and the rolling hills inland.

The Vipingo Ridge complex, a 2,500-acre affair, was conceptualised around 2005 and top golf architect, David Jones was hired to design two golf courses along the top ridge of the property.

The first of these, the Baobab course, was ready for use in 2008 and was officially launched in 2009, quickly becoming one of the top championship golf courses in Kenya and the region.

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In 2016, the Baobab Course became a PGA-accredited course, giving it the same stature as the PGA Gleneagles in Scotland, host of the 2014 Ryder Cup and the Belfry in England, host of the 1985, 1989, 1993 and 2002 Ryder Cups (www.pga.info). The Baobab Course, Vipingo is the only PGA accredited course on the African continent.

The Kenyan charge at the Magical Kenya Ladies Open will be led by Nyali Golf Club’s lady professional Bhavi Shah. Shah, a member of the local Safari Tour, has been playing alongside her East African male colleagues in preparation for the LET event in Vipingo and that experience should come in handy next week when she faces her more experienced European counterparts.

Other Kenyan players include amateur golfers Naomi Wafula, Mercy Nyanchama, Njoki Margaret and Agnes Nyakio. These young lady golfers will get a rare opportunity to measure their skills against the best in the world and it is the hope of the organisers that this exposure will help them grow and develop their skills. The young Kenyan ladies will also play against Swiss amateur lady golfer Elena Moosmann and Sarina Schmidt, Germany. Moosmann is ranked 82nd on the World Amateur Golf Ranking whilst Schmidt is ranked 340th.

The Magical Kenya Ladies Open is supported by title sponsors Magical Kenya and presented by Safaricom M-Pesa. The event is hosted by Vipingo Ridge and organised by U.Com Event GmbH, a company with vast experience in sports across the world.

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