Golf has been demystified, not just in Kenya, but around the East African region. Once considered a boring game of the rich and old, the game seems to have taken a different shift with the entrance of talented youngsters, sponsorships coupled with tailored career shifting.
There is no doubt that Kenya has witnessed a burgeoning interest in golf, a sport traditionally associated with the more established golfing nations with young talents mushrooming across the country.
This surge in popularity, not just in Kenya but across the region, can be attributed in no small part to the NCBA Golf Series, an event that has not only elevated the profile of golf in Kenya but has also become a catalyst for its growth and development.
According to the R&A Global Participation Report, Kenya leads the three East African countries; Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania in terms of the number of active professional golfers with 12,099, among the 721 juniors, followed by Uganda with 1,464, among the 411 juniors, and Tanzania at 751, among the 102 Juniors.
To help give the now-popular game a boost, NCBA Bank, through the NCBA Golf Series has been sponsoring various tournaments within and without the country. According to the lender, over 3500 amateur players have played in the NCBA Golf Series this year alone.
At the same time, over 2,000 junior players have played in partnership with the Junior Golf Foundation and US Kids. with NCBA sponsoring 20 tournaments What is more, over 1,300 amatuers players have taken part in the Kenya Golf Union tournaments with NCBA sponsoring 17 golf tournaments.
Among the popular clubs that the NCBA Golf Series has played include:
Today marks the grand finale of the NCBA Golf Series for 2023, happening at nestled Sigona Club, nestled along the Nairobi-Naivasha highway in Kikuyu with the provision of a serene atmosphere amidst flowery bushes, beautiful bushes, and scenic greenery. Established in 1938, this private member club features a modern clubhouse and a championship-standard golf course.
This year’s Grand Finale has a total prize pool of Kes 300,000, with each of the three top finishers— the Overall Winner, Men’s Category winner, and Ladies’ Category winner— receiving the Kes 100,000 cash prize.
Among the golfers who are expected to put up a strong challenge to the title include Kevin Mbatia of Railway Golf Club, who clinched the overall victory in his home club’s leg, and Limuru’s duo of Paul Muchangi and John Kariuki, who demonstrated their prowess with impressive scores of 73 and 76 gross, respectively, during their club’s tournaments.
All eyes will also be on the skilled scratch golfer John Odhiambo from Royal, Muthaiga’s Evans Vitisia, Kitale’s Isaac Gitonga, Wade Kilburn, and Paul Kaguamba from Karen, among others, who delivered top performances in their respective home clubs’ tournaments. They will aim to build on their commendable performances at their home club’s tournaments.
As they say, only time will tell.
The NCBA Golf Series has played a pivotal role in transforming golf from a niche sport to a mainstream cultural phenomenon in Kenya.
The series has successfully merged the worlds of sports and finance, creating a synergy that has drawn attention not only from avid golf enthusiasts but also from the general public.
One of the key factors contributing to the success of the NCBA Golf Series is its inclusive nature. NCBA organizes tournaments across various skill levels and age groups, hence managing to break down barriers that often deter newcomers from taking up golf.
From amateur golfers to seasoned professionals, the series provides a platform for individuals of all abilities to participate, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie.
The NCBA Golf Series has also been instrumental in promoting golf as a spectator sport. Through strategic partnerships with media outlets and digital platforms, the series has ensured that golf tournaments are accessible to a wider audience, both within Kenya and globally. This increased visibility has not only attracted new players but has also generated a heightened interest in the sport itself.