Some years ago, I played a round of golf with the affable Lady-Captain of Limuru Country Club, Wairimu Thande. She is known to speak her mind in a very entertaining way. After playing the second hole, Wairimu walked up to me and asked me, “do you want us to play ndubia golf?”
Ndubia is a Gikuyu word for insipid or sugarless tea; I had never heard golf referred to in that way. Naturally, I had to ask what she meant.
“Aren’t you going to suggest a small bet to sweeten the game?”
Many golfers enjoy playing in club competitions. It is a norm to see fewer golfers on the course when there is no formal competition at clubs. It is natural for humans to be competitive and it is very common to find golfers placing small wagers to liven up the game.
Since golf is one of the few sports that men and women, young and old can compete on the same golf course as a result of the great equaliser called the golf handicap, the wagers are not something that only men indulge in.
The beauty of the game of golf is the fact that every golfer tries to beat the course and as long as their handicap is properly administered, even the bogey golfer, like myself, can compete with the most skilled professional golfer.
Even with the golf courses open as they are at the moment, there are still many golfers who have not ventured out to play. In the spirit of the eighth presidential address on the coronavirus pandemic last Saturday, it is time that the current restrictions on the game of golf were lifted. Golf is one of the few games that can be played safely while observing all the safety regulations to help stop the spread of the virus.
If golf clubs can have draws even when people are playing friendly rounds, and ensure that players do not congregate at the tee, and remind them to maintain a distance two club lengths from each other, then the aspect of social distancing will have been achieved.
Many clubs have added hand-washing points around the club house: add onto these hand sanitisers at the tee boxes and other strategic points at the club then the golfers will be safe. I think that it is time that the Ministry of Health also reconsidered the return of caddies.
They have been a vital part to the enjoyment of the game and even though a number of golfers are now used to playing without them, we must consider that they are vital cog in the golfing ecosystem that has suffered the most during these times of restrictions.
It is possible to hold competitions even without sponsors. The Kenya Amateur Match Play Championship which is traditionally held in May, can proceed with or without a sponsor. Competitive golf will be the final sweetener that will convert the game of golf from ‘ndubia’ to the vibrant game that we are used to.
Wang’ombe is the General Manager of Kenya Open Golf Limited