It is now about four months since the Safaricom Golf Tour kicked off and during this time, I have had the pleasure of meeting people from different backgrounds who have regaled with their golf stories. I have to say that these stories have been a pleasant surprise as I have always thought that golf was generally a boring game till now.

Over this time, I have met people like Muchangi who are using golf to change the lives of underprivileged kids for the better. I have also met those who view golf as a means of making their lives better. A good example of this is Nelson Okoth whom I met playing in the Junior Tournament at the Eldoret leg of the Safaricom Golf Tour.

It was not very hard to single out Nelson from the other Juniors playing at the tournament. This was because, his shoes looked well-worn as compared to the other players. Also, his golf kit looked as if it had seen better days but was still in good condition. I later came to learn that it was his coach who had lent the kit out to him so that he could play in the tournament. However, what struck me most about him was the air of confidence and determination that he had while playing.

The Safaricom Golf Tour heads to Karen Country Club for the 7th leg of the series

You see, Nelson is 16 years of age and was waiting to join Form One in the new intake but looking at him one would not have guessed that he was that young. Perhaps it was because he had the look of someone who knew his stuff and knew it well.

Nelson’s golf journey started back in 2017 when he was all of 11 years old, at that time he used to hang out at the course with his father who is a groundman at the club. However, he became inspired to start playing by watching his Coach who happens to be a caddie by the name Henry Agwona doing his thing on the course. His story is interesting in that courtesy of his drive and determination to learn the game, his coach who is also a family friend decided to taken it upon himself to pays for his green fees. The coach also assists him with the golf kit since he cannot afford to purchase one for himself.

Being that I know club membership can at times be an expensive affair, I sought to know whether he was a member. To which he explained that he was not a club member but was only able to play due to the fact that he was enrolled in the Junior Golf Foundation. He had a smile on his face when he told me how thankful he was to the Foundation because all he had to do was pay the annual membership at Ksh. 1,000 and after that all he needed to do was pay Ksh. 120 as green fees to play. Otherwise, he would not have been able to play and achieve his dream of becoming a golf pro.

Truth be told, the Junior Golf Foundation (JGF)  has done well in promoting golf among the young people and without which many would not have been able to play. The Foundation was set up on 2nd October 1995 by the Kenya Golf Union and currently has 1,600 members. Its principle objective is to promote junior golf development and participation for boys and girls from the ages of five to twenty-one years in Kenya. Other than enabling the Juniors to access different golf clubs, JGF membership also enables one to compete in local and international events, training as well as getting a handicap.

He also shared that playing golf had been a life saver for him and his friends because it managed to keep them out of trouble. This was due to the fact that they usually spent all their free time at the club practicing.

Being that this was the first tournament that he was participating in, he was very grateful for the Safaricom Golf Tour. This was because he was able to interact and compete with players from all over the country. In as much as he did not manage to come out as one of the winners, he was grateful for the experience and vowed to come back better and stronger should the tour come back to Eldoret Club next year.

The Safaricom Golf Tour is a 14-leg golf series which aims to tap, nurture and grow talent among young golfers across the country as well as demystify the game. So far the tour has had 6 legs with the last one being held at the Eldoret Golf Club. After Eldoret, the tournament will proceed to Karen Golf Club on 13th May 2022 before heading to Nyali on 21st May 2021.

How Henry Agwona is growing golf in Eldoret by coaching underprivileged kids