NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 26 – The Kenya Open Golf Limited (KOGL), has announced a bumper increase in minimum prize purse for individual events of the Safari Golf Tour from Sh1mn to Sh1.5mn as one of a series of changes to be expected starting with the coming season of the tournament.
Additionally, KOGL has said it is working to ensure that at least half of the tournaments offer total prize money of between Sh3mn and Sh4mn as the tournament grows in stature.
KOGL Tournament Director Patrick Obath said the move would enhance competition as more regional players playing in established tours such as the Sunshine Tour are expected to take an interest in the series.
“This will begin to attract players from other tours both in Africa and beyond to come and play here. This will heighten competition further and we hope sharpen the play of the Kenyan Golf Professionals,” Obath said.
KOGL is also ramping-up the number of events for next season’s Safari Tour.
“We will increase from 11 to 15-16 events during the course of the year. Next season, we will certainly expand to Rwanda and Tanzania. We are then going to share our calendar with Nigeria and the Sunshine Tour so that we don’t have major events clashing and ensure that each event has a clear weekend so that we can attract the right kind of people,” added Obath.
The Safari Golf Tour, which was launched in 2018 as a preparation pad for local and regional professional players heading into the Kenya Open has seen eighteen professional events being held in Kenya and Uganda over the two seasons.
As part of the expansion plans, KOGL sees the tour growing to become the region’s biggest golf opportunity.
“In time also, we expect to attract payers from Ethiopia, the Indian Ocean Islands, the DRC and those other places and we see the Safari Golf Tour placing itself as a premiere event for the middle belt in Africa,” said Obath.
Commenting on the success of the current season, Obath singled-out the tournament’s expansion into the region as the greatest accomplishment yet for the event; adding that the interest from Uganda, especially, pointed to the importance of the event to regional professional golf.
“I think the biggest thing for us was that we expanded into Uganda, bringing to 11 events the number of events in the Safari Tour up from seven in the previous season,”
He added: “Initially when we went into Uganda, we only thought that it was going to be one event but when they saw the opportunity, they decided to add more – which was a quiet way of saying that they needed more events in Uganda so that the Ugandans can get more points to qualify into the Kenya Open.”
He added that the fact that corporate organizations such as Johnnie Walker and Absa have taken the decision to sponsor individual golfers confirms that, increasingly, the tournament is profiling the players as a premium asset.
“We are now having players who are sponsored by commercial organizations. In the first season, we didn’t have that but this year we are finding players who are being branded by their corporates and I believe that was a very positive thing for the Safari Tour because it was also supposed to be enhancing the earnings of the players.”