The fact that David Wakhu is a prolific player is not in doubt given how many tournaments that he has won over the years. From the Pro-AM tournament, Safari Tour, Savannah Tour and many others, he is without a doubt one of the best players in Kenya.
I met Wakhu on the Safaricom Golf Tour where he was training kids on how to play golf during one of the golf clinics which are part of the tournament. For those who may not know, Safaricom came up with the golf tour in a bid to not only make the sport accessible but also to demystify it as a sport that can be played by anybody not just the well to do in the society. The golf clinics are meant to give kids the basics of the game in order to enable them to start playing. I marveled at how patient he was with the kids considering that he is a big name in the golf world and I just had to get a sit down with him to get his life story.
Wakhu started playing golf at a very early age courtesy of having grown up at the Kitale Golf Club where his father worked as a cook. Growing up, he used to see the club members playing on the course and this piqued his interest making him want to be as good as them. However, being from a humble background, he could not afford to purchase golf kits, as such Wakhu and his friends used to carve wooden golf clubs and use them to play. They had to do this during the times that they knew that the members were not using the course otherwise they would have been in trouble.
His passion for the game grew with time in as much as he played other sports in school like football. He actually became very good at it to a point where his father wanted him to pursue professionally but he still reverted to his first love, golf. His father sadly passed on soon after he finished high school and he was left with no other option than to start caddying at the Kitale Golf Club in order to earn a living. More so because his step-mom could not afford to cater for all the children. He caddied for about one and a half years, after which he made a decision to come to Nairobi so as to try and pursue a career in golf.
He arrived in Nairobi back in 2004 and immediately got a job at the Golf Park as a temporary caddie so as to get sustenance as he plotted his next move. During this time, he set himself a target of caddying for a maximum of three years and if nothing good would have come up, he would have switched careers. When he got the job, Wakhu chose not to disclose that he knew how to play golf but rather to just focus on having good relations with the members as well as showing them how to improve their game.
Courtesy of how knowledgeable he was, some of the players he used to caddy for managed to improve their game drastically. This got the attention of the Golf Park Captain at the time, Mr. Isaac Mwamto who was able to see his potential and bought him his first golf kit as well as sponsoring him when he had to play in tournaments.
During this time, one of the people that he used to caddy for was the then Blueshield Insurance CEO Philip Wanjala. One day as they were on the course, Philip told him that he had to play with him since he appeared to be so knowledgeable about the game. Wakhu agreed and in the game, he managed to birdie hole number six, seven, eight and nine. Philip was so impressed that he told him that he should come to see him at his office in Upperhill. Before he left, he overpaid Wakhu with Ksh. 2,000 rather than Ksh. 200 which was the caddie fee at the time. This left Wakhu in a fix as to whether he should keep the money or be honest and give it back. Honesty eventually prevailed and he called Philip in a bid to give the money back. Unbeknownst to him, Philip was actually was testing him to see how honest he was and whether he was someone that he could be able to work with.
Luckily for him, he passed the test, and was given a sponsorship by the company which saw him put on a salary as well as being given a chance to go to South Africa to go for further training. This saw his standard of living improve drastically something which enabled him to focus on improving his skillset and this is period helped him improve his game a lot.
Sadly, after some time Philip passed on and the insurance company started facing some financial challenges which meant that his contract was terminated. This was a major setback for him as he didn’t have a stable source of income but nevertheless, he soldiered on and continued with his training. Since then, he has not managed to get a sponsor but has had to depend on well wishers to sponsor him for some of the tournaments. He shared a hilarious story of how one golfer promised to sponsor him for a tournament but on the material day, he switched off his phone. He was so badly off that he could not even afford to pay his caddie. However, being a people’s person, the caddie agreed to work for him with the promise that he would pay him later. He ended up winning the tournament and various golfers started sending him money to congratulate him including the person who had switched off his phone. All in all, it is this grit and determination that has propelled him to where he is right now.
Wakhu is grateful to Safaricom for having brought him on board the tour as a trainer. This is because he is very passionate about nurturing the next generation of golfers who are meant to take over after they retire. He was also happy that the Juniors are getting a chance to compete and become better at the game. He believes that the tour is a game changer because in the next few years the sport will have grown to new levels. Wakhu had some advice for the Juniors in that they should take the game seriously because there are opportunities for getting scholarships to study abroad something which can really open doors for them.