Why playing should not be about winning


Children participate in a Junior Golf Clinic at Muthaiga Golf club on June 22, 2019. There is need to see more young people taking part in golf tournaments as a way of nurturing talent. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NMG

In 2017 I wrote two articles about the Nairobi District Golf League; the first, published in September 2017 - “District golf leagues way to go for sport” was full of accolades, I tipped my hat to golf captains who had continued to lead their teams in what was growing into a great golf league laced with comradeship, fun and healthy competition. I noted that the league had expanded to include Ruiru Sports Club and Golf Park, and that both teams had continued to prove themselves worthy of the invitation.

In that September article I touched on the controversial Railway vs Windsor league game and the role of Vet Lab Sports Club and the Captain’s Committee in that unfortunate saga that threatened to tarnish the reputation of the league and deny the Railway Golf Club a well-deserved victory.

In my second piece on the matter, published on November24 — “Keep politics out of golf to avoid tarnishing league” — I appealed to the leadership of the Nairobi District Golf League to uphold their own rules and avoid making rush boardroom decisions destined to bring the game into disrepute.

In that latter article I opined that the controversy would “sour the taste of the league”. I went on to say that: “The game is in danger, and the culprits are well known. The ethics and culture in golf will not allow them to savour this bitter victory in comfort.”

As it turned out, Vet Lab’s party in 2017 was cut short by justice and the Kenya Railway Golf Club were rightly declared the winners of the 2017 Nairobi District Golf League.

This immediate past Sunday, the last league games of the 2019 season were played - and I had the pleasure of representing my home club, Karen Country Club, against my former home club, Thika Sports Club. The match was well-attended and although Thika proved too strong at home, no one seemed to care about the score - the match was about sharing, networking, friendly competition and comradeship.

Going through various golf forums, it is evident that the hospitality I experienced at Thika was replicated at other Nairobi District Golf Clubs, as it should be. The league, I am happy to report, is once more about the fun, networking and the beauty of the game of golf and less about fierce unfriendly competition or the 2017 boardroom intrigues.

How can we make the league better? For a start, we must keep the politics out of the game - the league must never be allowed to degenerate and elements who threaten the sanctity of the league must be censored and weeded out; they are well known.

Secondly, I think there is room to introduce some test matches with upcountry clubs. For example, the Royal Nairobi Golf Club must invite Mombasa Golf Club and Nyali Golf Club for a test match in Nairobi and the Coast-based teams must return the favour the following year. Kitale, Eldoret and Nandi Bears must invite Thika and Ruiru to a three day test match and vice versa. Machakos must invite Nanyuki and Nyeri and so on and so forth until all golf clubs or golf club syndicates get an opportunity to participate.

Lastly, I would like to see juniors playing in the Nairobi District Golf League. A few years ago, Royal Nairobi started the Tannahill Junior Golf Tournament to grow the next generation of elite amateur golfers, the League should follow suit.

Congratulations to the Royal Nairobi Golf Club for winning the 2019 Nairobi District Golf League. Well done.