Two weeks ago, in what has become the new normal, Patrick Obath, the Tournament Director of the Kenya Open Golf Limited, announced the commencement of the Safari Tour on an online platform.
The beauty of an online launch is that the participants were from different places. Obath who was in Mombasa, was joined by Safari Tour members, journalists, and officials who were in Nairobi, Eldoret, Kampala, Kigali and even from as far as Dakar and Lagos.
A week after Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed launched the Guidelines for Resumption of Sporting actities, Obath had a simple message; professional golfing competitions are resuming.
The 2020-2021 season started at the picturesque Limuru Country Club from October 4. This was followed by the second event from Monday to Thursday this week by the event at Royal Nairobi Golf Club.
The other hosts will be Vet Lab Sports Club from tomorrow and then at Sigona Golf Club from the October 24-28.
There were a few adjustments that were made to enable the competition to continue. The first is that the players were expected to play without the use of caddies; at least for the first two events.
There was a lot of confusion among the Safari Tour members as a few days after the announcement by Kenya Open Golf Limited, Ben Omuodo, the Chairman of the Kenya Golf Union, the governing body of golf in Kenya, announced that golf clubs can now allow caddies to return.
The committee in charge of running the Safari Tour are keen to reduce the exposure of the participants. The best way being the reduction of the total number of people who are involved.
Since the Ministry of Sports dropped the requirement to test all players for Covid-19, the Safari Tour did not screen the participants.
However, being cognisant of the prevailing pandemic, steps like having a medic on site to help understand the risk exposure of the players and officials have been put in place.
The one thing that the Safari Tour cannot be accused of is laxity when it comes to the enforcement of the Rules of Golf and applying standards that have been adopted by more developed tours.
It is common knowledge that many club competitions fall short when it comes in the rules.
Not so for the Safari Tour where rules officials are always at hand to educate the players, but, if need be, penalise them for infringement of the Rules.
There have been a number of criticisms of the Safari Tour; the prize purse is too small; the winners are not getting points toward the Official World Golf Ranking and many more.
The critics are however losing sight of a very important fact: The Safari Tour has started gaining momentum and that is how it has attracted professional golfers from other parts of Africa.
The Safari Tour committee are like the mother who give the children the first chapati that they have cooked as they wait for the full meal.
If Safari Tour were to be in the Emily Dickinson poem, it would be said to have erred on the side of practicability. It will help in honing skills of African golfers, before it gains the beauty.
– Mr Wang’ombe is a Kenya Golf Union Executive