The Open that is part of the European Challenge Tour, will make a comeback to the 72 par course for the first time since 1999 as the Kenya Open Golf Limited (KOGL) seeks to rotate the annual event around courses in Nairobi.
KOGL Chairman Peter Kanyago said the premier Golf event will be held between February 7 and 10, a month earlier from its customary dates.
“As you are all aware the country will be conducting the General Elections in March, hence the board decided to have it earlier to avoid any inconveniences that may arise.
“Two Pro-am events will precede the main challenge on February 6 whose venues we will announce later,” said Kanyago during a press briefing at the course.
He divulged their focus was to have the Open hosted by a select five courses in a bid to promote the sport with plans of expansion to others in the country.
“We will have an agronomist from the European Challenge visiting the country in the next two months who will give his expert advice on what needs to be done to achieve this plan.
“At the moment we have earmarked five courses namely; Karen, Muthaiga, Windsor, Royal Nairobi and Sigona though we have also received a request from the ReaVipingo course from the coast which we’ll also consider,” he disclosed.
The Chairman said that depending on the findings received, they will decide if they will rotate the tournament venue after every three years or have it held annually in each course.
Club Chairman Jinaro Kibet said they were ready to host the event adding that they have learnt from the experience three years ago.
“Last time, we had the challenge of maintaining the course in tip-top condition due to unavailability of adequate water but that has now been sorted out after the completion of the 100,000 cubic metres dam which will ensure excellent fairways even during the dry season.
“We are looking forward to have a successful tournament and hope the contestants will enjoy the challenge since our course is equally as tough as Muthaiga,” said Kibet on their readiness to host the event.
Karen last hosted the event from 1997 to 99 when the traditional venue Muthaiga was undergoing renovations.
Kenya will be represented by 25 professional golfers who will be seeking to win the prize money of 190,000 Euros besides going past the performance registered during this year’s event, where Mumias based Dismas Indiza was the highest placed Kenyan with a one under par 70 finishing tied at 22nd.
“We are hoping our local golfers will go beyond what was achieved this year and have some breaking into the top ten bracket.
“To achieve this we will engage the local Professional Golfers Association to embark on some serious preparations including several build up tournaments to ensure we front a commendable challenge next year,” added Kanyago of the event that has eluded the country’s best players over the years.
Six Kenyans made the cut in the 44th edition this year, an improvement from 2011 where only four played past day two, with a further five finishing in the top 100 list in the championship that brought together 156 players from across the world.
England’s Seve Benson claimed the title, the third Challenge Tour crown of his career after he saw off Denmark’s Lasse Jensen in a play-off in April.
Organisers are banking on President Kibaki who is the Golf patron in the country to grace the last day of the event in his final days in office.