How Nyali golf club has bred top junior players

Mathew Wahome
Mathew Wahome plays during the Nyali Open Junior Golf Tournament at a past event at Nyali Golf and Country Club. PHOTO | GIDEON MAUNDU  

For many years, Nyali Golf and Country Club has been the source of many young and talented golfers. Indeed Nyali is the only golf course in Kenya with a par-3 pitch and putt golf course, purposely built to encourage young people to play golf.

This six-hole layout, played thrice to complete an 18-hole round, has nurtured an impressive crop of juniors players.

They include Daniel Nduva, an elite amateur golfer currently based in South Africa; Adel Balala, who played and made the cut in the first Safari Tour event at Nyali; Tahir Mohammed now based in Miami, the US; the Wahome brothers Jeremy handicap-5, Matthew, a scratch golfer, and 12-year-old Andrew, handicap 16.

Nduva’s elder brother George Munyao and William Kaguta were once red-hot juniors.

Although they don’t compete at the top level any more — choosing to compete only in club competitions — Munyao is a 2.4 handicap golfer and Kaguta is 3.7!

Agil Is Hag, based in the US, Kelly Rob, studying to be a marine engineer, Katembo Temi and Gail Ntore are all graduates of Nyali’s junior programme.

Through the last decade, Nyali’s golf development programme was driven largely by the team of Taufiq Balala and Alice Githere Wahome — who with the assistance of the club administration — poured their time and money into ensuring a steady crop of junior golfers were developed at Nyali.

“We both have a passion for golf and we worked together to ensure that our children and other children took up the game and stuck with it,” Wahome said.

“Golf teaches children many life values, it instils discipline, patience, good manners, respect for others and the environment and teamwork. It is a great sport.”

And this team is currently working with a new crop of junior golfers including 13-year-old girl Alyssa Jamal who is now handicap 16, Brandon Oyaro, Zayan Din, Nathan Wanyama and Rumil Jayasinghe — who are all 14; and 10-year-old Ali Jamal — Agil Is Haq’s younger brother.

A few months ago Wahome, the Junior Golf Foundation convener for the Coast Region, embarked on a new programme aimed at introducing primary school children to the game.

“One of our goals at Nyali has been to take golf to children in less privileged backgrounds and primary schools. In August we started by going to Maweni, Kongowea, Serani and Likoni Muslim primary schools,” she said.

“We targeted pupils in classes three to five.” Over time, they reduced this number to 250 and in late October to 70.

“These 70 young, eager and enthusiastic children have embraced the game and in turn we have provided them with coaching, shoes, clubs, something to eat and more importantly access to our golf courses and ranges,” Wahome said.

But it is not been all-smooth sailing, training this new crop of golfers requires resources and they have been hard to come by.

“The 10 caddies who train the children need to be paid a stipend, for example, and these are not ordinary caddies; they have been trained by John Liefland who also trains the Kenya team.

“We need golf clubs, shoes, clothes and golf balls, we are appealing to golfers to donate these items to the programme,” she added.

“Without these resources the program will fail, the staff cannot be paid and these eager children will not get the clubs they desperately need to learn and play the game.”

This new initiative by Wahome comes in the wake of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s urging that golf be demystified and taken to the grassroots.

“These children are the future of golf in Kenya, these are the ones who will one day win the Kenya Open and play in international tours, we must support them,” Wahome concluded.