Golf in Kenya dates back to 1905 when the Nairobi Golf Club came into being and is today known as the Royal Nairobi Golf Club, having been bestowed the Royal Charter in 1936.
One of Kenya’s best kept secrets is its numerous golf courses. Few places in the world offer such perfect ingredients for a fantastic golf holiday, as Kenya does. The opportunity to play your favourite game, to see wildlife (sometimes on the course!) and to relax on the beautiful white sandy beaches all during the same holiday is unique.
Golf in Kenya dates back to 1905 when the Nairobi Golf Club came into being and is today known as the Royal Nairobi Golf Club, having been bestowed the Royal Charter in 1936. A second course was established in 1911 at Mombasa, the second largest town after Nairobi, the Capital and Kenya’s major port. It is a challenging 9 hole layout and is the only links course in the country.
Geographically golf is well spread from the city of Nairobi to the Highlands north of Nairobi, in the Great Rift Valley, the Lake Basin around Lake Victoria and of course at sea level along our magnificent coastline with beautiful beaches. Currently the country has a total of 38 golf clubs affiliated to the Kenya Golf Union. Of these fifteen of these are 18 hole course and the rest have 9 holes. In addition to
these there are some private facilities.
We have a total of about five thousand amateur golfers in the country and about one thousand junior golfers. Of these junior about 200 are the active golfers who play during the school holidays.
Soon after their arrival in the 1900′s British colonists began developing golf courses all over the country. They realized that Kenya had the year round climate and most beautiful settings to construct some of the world’s most desirable courses.
One of the most appealing features of golfing in Kenya is the variety. From the beach clubs set among palms and casuarinas with stunning views of the sapphire Indian Ocean, to those dominated by the perennial snow cap of Mount Kenya there is a medley of courses each vying for priority as the most attractive for location and interest. One is even built on the slopes of an extinct volcano!
Kenya has over 40 golf courses of which 13 are 18-hole, 10 of which are used for championship events. 6 are within a 20 mile radius of Nairobi – Kenya’s bustling capital. The oldest 18 hole course is Royal Nairobi Golf Club founded in 1906, the latest is the David Jones design Vipingo Golf Resort on the coast, which opened in July 2009.
Kenya’s Muthaiga Golf Club is the host of the Kenya Open, part of the European PGA Challenge Cup. The 18 hole Muthaiga Golf Course was completely remodelled by renowned South African Golf Architect Peter Matkovich in 2003 and a delight to play for professionals as well for amateurs.
There are several new courses under construction and a number are being upgraded from 9 holes to 18 holes. The weather in Kenya is ideal for golf all year round. On occasions you mighty need a sweater or a jersey, but you will usually play in a polo shirt.
In the highland areas the temperatures are in the low 20′s and at the coast in the high 20′s or low 30′s. There are 12 hours of day light and, depending on the season, 4 to 9 hours of sunshine. During the two rainy seasons, (April and November) the rain usually falls before 10 am and after 5 PM and almost never when you are playing! More and more clubs have installed sophisticated fairway watering systems to keep the course green during the dry seasons.
Many courses are at an altitude of more than 1500 meters (5000 ft) truly giving you an additional 10% yardage to your stroke. Most clubs have a pro-shop where you can buy whatever you need. Though there are no golf carts available, Kenya has the luxury of caddies .Usually the caddies are very good players themselves and will not only carry your bag and look for your ball in the rough, but advice on local rules, assist with your swing and generally be your companion and mentor.
Most of Kenya’s golf clubs are private membership clubs and organize many competitions, but also at club nights and weekends most courses are closed for visitors, and it is advised to book your tee-times through a specialized golf tour operator, to avoid disappointment if the golf courses are closed.
For the visiting golfer, Kenya has a broad appeal. There is everything for the fanatic golfer, whilst the avid golfer can fashion his safari to include some wildlife viewing as well. A golfer who prefers to laze on the beach can still fit in a game or two and the business traveller, with an afternoon off, can easily play his favourite game right on his doorstep.
Kenya has it all and golf is no exception.