Is this the year that will change the way we play golf?
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy plays a chip shot during the first round of the Australian Open. [File]

In 1992, Queen Elizabeth II declared the year “annus horribilis”, a Latin phrase meaning a horrible year.

This was after death by suicide of her nephew, a lot of bad publicity on members of the Royal Family as well as a fire in the Windsor Castle.

We are just into the second quarter of the year 2020 and as a result of all the suffering and death caused by the COVID-19 virus and the changes in the way we live, I am ready to use the phrase.

When the Kenyan government took the bold step to cancel all international events on Friday March 6, a week before the staging of the Magical Kenya Open, many may have seen it as an overreaction.

When the first case of a patient suffering from the dreaded virus, the very next week was announced, some number crunchers did some modelling and predicted that we would have thousands of cases in Kenya by the end of the first month.

By God’s grace and as a result of the quick action taken by the Ministry of Health, we are nowhere near what had been predicted.

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Two weeks ago, the USGA announced that the US Open, that was initially scheduled to take place between June 18-21, will now be played from September 17-20. A week later, the Ryder Cup is scheduled to be held.

The only downside to playing these tournaments this year is that they will be played without spectators. World number one golfer, Rory McIlroy, is not all too pleased about playing without spectators.

“A Ryder Cup without fans, it’s not a Ryder Cup” he said.

If it were up to McIlroy and some of the other players, it would probably be better if the tournament was played in 2021, if that would guarantee the presence of spectators.

I, however, wonder if it is asking for too much for things to return to normal after just one year. Will we see the same kind of crowds for the Ryder Cup or any other golf tournament after one year?

I am not a behavioural expert and I cannot claim to know how people will react but after going through the lockdowns and after getting used to social distancing, we are bound to continue avoiding crowded areas for a long time to come.

I personally would prefer to watch it on TV with a few friends; unless of course I am invited to referee.

The PGA European Tour are looking to return to action with the British Masters that is scheduled for July 30 to August 2. The US PGA Championship is set for the week after; August 6-9.

Would we be able to pull off the Magical Kenya Open 2020 from August 13-16? If this were to happen, it would probably be the best indication of a return to normalcy; whatever it will be after the dreaded COVID-19 is eventually put under control.

There is absolutely no way this year can be described in any other way other than annus horribilis, but should we be able to host the Magical Kenya Open in August, it will be the best way to start going back to normal in as far as golf is concerned.

With live TV coverage in millions of homes all over the world, it will also be the best way to showcase the opening up of Kenya after months of closure.

Even with the experts warning us that we are not out of the woods yet, I am choosing to focus on our world post the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Magical Kenya Open, with or without spectators, as long as it is televised live, will take some of the sting out of what has otherwise been a scene from a nightmare.

Wang’ombe is the General Manager of Kenya Open Golf Limited

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