Golf competitions suspended in Kenya due to 'non-compliance' of golfers

Golf in Kenya
Players have continued despite a government directive to stop

All handicap golf competitions have been suspended in Kenya for the next 30 days, the Kenya Golf Union has directed - after a spate of "non-compliance" by golfers in the country who continued to play despite stringent lockdown measures to contain coronavirus.

"The Kenya Golf Union has taken the unprecedented action of suspending all handicaps in the country for a period of 30 days. All clubs are therefore not allowed to hold any competitions that require golf handicaps for this period," a statement signed by Kenya Golf Union chairman Antony Murage read.

"All club houses must be closed forthwith. Golfers must not be allowed to access the club house for any services whatsoever," the statement added.

Murage explained that the Ministry's directive was due to the "noncompliance of many golfers who continued to congregate within the club premises in direct contravention of the current directive given to help stop the spread of Covid-19."

That directive had come from Kenyan Minister of Health Mutahi Kagwe, who ordered the closure of all golf clubs in the country - a directive that many Kenyan golfers have been ignoring.

Guido Migliozzi of Italy celebrates after he wins the tournament on during Day Four of the Magical Kenya Open presented by Absa at the Karen Country Club on March 17, 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya
The Kenya Open has already been postponed

Despite suspending handicap competitions and closure of club houses, self-caddied players are allowed to continue playing alone, in twos or threes.

The clubs will be open to members only with no guests or reciprocation allowed, however clubs must ensure there won't be congregation on the clubs premises.

"Golfers can play golf as long as they do not use the services of caddies and strictly maintaining social distancing. The starting intervals must be at least ten minutes and golfers must not gather at the starters," Murage said

With golfers not allowed to use caddie services during this period, the KGU has further directed clubs to set up a caddie welfare fund to support the caddies.

Some of the golf clubs which had already put the government's directive into action include Karen Country Club, Royal Nairobi Golf Club and Thika Golf Club.

"Following the Government's directive through the Ministry of Health, please note that the golf course and the practice range have been closed indefinitely with immediate effect," said a statement signed by Captain Dougic Duncanson and Lady Captain Rose Mambo of Karen Country Club.

Karen golf club
The Karen Country Club has said they will follow the government's directive and close altogether

The Royal Golf Course and Thika Sports Club have also closed their entire golf courses for the next 21 days and until further notice respectively.

Kenya has a growing interest in golf internationally, having hosted two European tours last year - The Magical Kenya Open and the Magical Kenya Ladies Open.

In March this year, Kenya was to host its third European Tour event - however the Kenyan government suspended all international meetings and conferences, a decision led to the postponement of the second Magical Kenya Open.

The European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley said they were looking into the possibility of rescheduling the tournament at some point later in the season.

"That remains simply a possibility right now - we have no definitive plans at this stage," Pelley said.

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