The Junior Golf Foundation is planning to spread the game of golf to all schools across the country as a way of growing the sport among the juniors in both primary schools and secondary schools.
The ambitious programme of going back to golf basics, will see football pitches that are available in almost all schools converted into a golf range for training.
“For you to create a range, you just need a net, and kids can hit (golf ball) towards the net. The next development is chipping ; you can be able to chip on a football pitch and then you mow the lawn and it becomes a putting green. These are the three critical areas of golf,” said the junior golf foundation president Regina Gachora.
“If you are able to nature that from a very young age on a football pitch, you can be able to move any of these young golfers into a golf course and they will play good golf. 95% of of our professionals are from caddie ranks. Where did they start playing? At football pitches and open fields. There is a lot of potential of golf from the grassroots, and the possibilities to develop future champions is there,” she added.
Golf is now getting into the schools’ programme with the Junior Golf Foundation including the competitions in their calendar.
“We have three terms of games. We will have two competitions that are non-handicap, one in the first term and one in the second term. The third term one will be a handicap tournament.
We will sample the schools’ competition in Nairobi and once we get it right, we will go into the regions and make sure that there are tournaments in every region every term.”
The president was speaking at the Karen golf club where the Junior Golf Foundation held the second tournament in 2023 of the USKids Golf Nairobi Series. The tournament attracted 150njunior golfers, the maximum that could be admitted in the half day tournament.
“We are seeing new winners coming through. New champions emerge in every tournament because the tournaments have become fair. As the kids keep playing, the winners are now
changing because those who were late starters are now catching up with those who were good players before. As a result, the competition is really drumming up and that is how we horn in the skills of getting future champions,” said the president.
Plans are in place to take the USKids Golf Series to golf courses outside Nairobi, starting with the Coast region. After Coast, talks are in advanced stages to head to the mount Kenya region and then the central rift region.
“Nairobi was a test to see how it can be done and it has been realised that many children love the programme. So that is why all other regions are planning to have similar USKids Golf programmes in their regions,” she explained.
The players from the programme were volunteers at the 2023 Magical Kenya Ladies Open in Vipingo. The volunteer programme at the Open was very accommodative to junior golfers who were able to interact with the pro golfers.
“So they were able to talk to the players about their golf journey and how they got to pro level the juniors Also played alongside the pros and learnt how the pros play. A lot of them say in three years they will be playing the Magical Kenya Open Ladies Golf tournament in Vipingo,”concluded the president.
The Junior Golf Foundation wants to see the four slots allocated to Kenya go to the 15 and 16 year old in the next year or two. This they say will see better performance from Kenya players as the juniors will not have stage fright associated with the amateur players who land on that stage for the first time as players.