To play safely, golfers must change some habits
Naomi Wafula, the Lady winner of the Thika Greens Safari tour ProAm held on January 4, 2020. [Courtesy]

There was a saying that was common in some parts of Murang’a county some years back; “Tinda hau, ta Chege wa maguta!”

Which when loosely translated, means; stay where you are just like Chege, the oil merchant. It was a rude way of saying that one was stupefied.

My friend Dr. Edwin Wambari was very surprised one day when, on his way to some shops in a sleepy Murang’a village, shouted to a friend who had stopped to stare at a passing car; “Tinda hau ta Chege wa maguta!”.

The next thing he knew was a sandal that had narrowly missed his face. He had been standing outside a shop that sold paraffin: and yes, the old man who owned the shop was known as Chege.

At that moment, as he took to his heels, Wambari discovered that ‘Chege wa maguta’ was actually a real person.

For as long as people in the village remembered, the old man sold paraffin. He had never ventured into something new and was the epitome of stagnated growth.

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For many people, a fixed routine brings order to their life. Playing golf is one of those routines that some cannot do without.

There are people I know never to call on Thursday afternoon, no matter the weather.

If they are not playing golf on Thursday afternoon, then it will mean they are unwell. Will these habits change now that there is an outbreak of the dreaded virus, Covid-19?

I reckon that with a lot of things grinding to a halt, we may just see more golf rounds being put in.

The good thing about golf is that it has a “social distancing” naturally built into it.

Even when playing with friends, it is very easy to keep a safe distance from each other.

Certain things have to change though, for the round of golf to remain safe. Since we play most of our golf with the help of caddies, we must remember to carry hand sanitisers for us and our caddies.

It is not enough to have one bottle at the caddy banda or at the club entrance. This is because at some point during the round, there will be some form of contact between us and our caddies and most probably, our faces.

The other thing that clubs need to do is stop all formal competitions. If they must hold the formal competitions, they need to ensure that they reduce instances where golfers congregate. Formal presentations, for example, are not ideal in these Covid-19 times.

I still think that it is possible to play the game that we love, safely.

Many of us regard a round or two of golf a week as an essential part of our lives. It is important that we maintain a positive outlook during these gloomy times.

As my good friend Dr. Wambari reminds me, peace of mind and joy can do a lot of good to our immunity.

Even as we are encouraged to change our lives to help stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus, a good dose of golf without congregating at the 19th hole might still be a good thing.

It is time to change and not keep doing the same thing like Chege wa maguta.

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


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