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Meet Kenya’s topmost deaf-and-dumb golfer

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 17 – “It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief and once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen,” those are the wise words of boxing legend the late Muhammad Ali.

The inspiring quote from the boxing great is a reality as testified by Kenya’s top deaf-and-dumb golfer, Isaac Makokha who narrated to Capital Sport his love for the sport, where he currently plays off handicap 3 in the Kenya National Golf Championship (formerly GOTY).

With an apparently insatiable appetite for success, the deaf-and-dumb amateur believes the disability facet he is exploring will, by and large, become a theatre of dreams for disabled persons hoping to make it big at national and international level.

The indefatigable golfer is glad and grateful to Vet Lab Sports Club (Home of Champions) where he found his solace and realized his potential in the wake of a rather turbulent situation while pursuing his dreams.

But courtesy of club members, Makokha hopes to make a mark in the national championship before joining paid ranks with the Professional Golfers of Kenya (PGK).

“Standards have been set and only the sky is the limit,” said his sign interpreter and PGK pro Nelson Simwa who reveals that the country boasts a sizable chunk of deaf golfers yet to realise their potential in golf.

Simwa interprets: “When he finally turns pro sometime in 2022, he says he wants to mobilize resources through well-wishers ostensibly to start a deaf-and-dumb golf academy which will be an epicenter of excellence in Kenya and designed with juniors in mind. It will surely demystify the notion that golf can only be enjoyed by able-bodied only.”

Isaac Makokha walk at the 18th hole fairway. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

Makokha has represented Kenya in two gigantic assignments in Turkey and regional Victoria Cup which is the equivalent of Elgon Cup in rugby.

During the deaf tournament in Turkey, Makokha, a sibling of Kenyan pro Jeff Kubwa, finished fifth overall.

“He says he wants to represent Kenya as a professional in the Magical Kenya Open Championship in 2022 and be the best of the best in the country as he aspires to debut the European Tour. That’s when he feels he will have come of age by playing off scratch. He says wants to become the first deaf pro to represent Kenya in the European Tour, so eventually he will become a teaching pro.”

Isaac Makokha walk at the 18th hole fairway. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

Makokha is an early riser and not as a cranking a diesel engine that’s really hard to start every morning. And once he gets going, he is fine for the day, and will mostly be found on hole number 17 at the crack of dawn trying out his long-hitting fitness.

Here he hits close to 450 balls with verve and vigor trying to perfect his swing year in year out.  In my own opinion, he’s an astute student of the game who will definitely go far because he hits and putts meticulously,” Makokha said through his translator Simwa.

Vetlab Sports Club’s Isaac Makokha walk on the practice Green. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

Vet Lab has eight pros who train alongside Makokha. They are led by former Sigona man, Matthew Omondi who is incidentally the resident pro,  his deputy Ali Orende, Mike Kisia, Jeff Kubwa, Isaiah Otuke, Ali Kimani who once led the Challenge Tour Kenya Open, Simwa a former Kenya team captain, the club’s former KNGC and Tannahill star Edwin Mudanyi and former Kenya Captain Robinson Okwiti, now the greenkeeper.

With Kisia, Otuke, Okwiri and Mudanyi being the newest pro from the Vet Lab ranks, Makokha becomes the top pro at Vet Lab along with the many other juniors the club is grooming.

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Prior to turning pro, he has a burning desire to get his mitts on the coveted Kenya National Golf Championship, after taking impressive scalps.

Vetlab Sports Club Amateur player Isaac Makokha Isaac during practice. Photo/RAYMOND MAKAHYA

“Makokha says golf is a sport for everyone, and not a rich man’s sport as perceived by many. He underscores the fact many of Kenyan leading pros like (Dismas) Indiza have dominated the sport for donkey’s years and realised their golfing potentials as caddies. He says he is happy to be at Vet Lab where he was given free membership by the management.

He further reveals that there is another talented deaf golfer playing off handicap 2 who will soon hit the sporting headline if well nurtured. He says he will remain forever grateful for members who accommodated him,” Makokha, who was once a caddie at Eldoret Golf Club, stated via Simwa.

-And how does Makokha hope to bring the golf deaf academy concept to fruition?

Vetlab Sports Club’s Isaac Makokha work-out on the course. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

“He says the academy will be purely a charity initiative. When he finally joins the PGK, he adds that he will go the extra mile to solicit for sponsors and well-wishers who would embrace the charity idea to make the difference for disability people,” interprets Simwa.

Makokha, who has a wife and an 11-year-old child is among a myriad sporting personalities that have since adversely been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic due to limited movement and interaction which now makes sports an almost mission impossible across the globe.

“The only place you will find Makokha when he is not on the course is at home relaxing. He has no hobbies, apart from Tae Kwon do which he had played some years back and won a belt.’ Simwa explained.

Nelson Simwa with Isaac Makokha communicate in sign language. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

Makokha was born and bred in Eldoret and is among a group of golfers who came through Eldoret Golf Club where the Simwas (Nelson and Boniface), his brother Jeff Kubwa also honed their skills.

Makokha’s dad worked at the Eldoret Golf Club, which a befitting platform for any aspiring golfer.

“He says golf is hard with COVID-19 issues. He says he hopes that God will intervene and help the world revert to normalcy. We are all praying for the new vaccine that will arrest the virus,” he underscored.

Nelson Simwa with Isaac Makokha at Vetlab Sports Club Course. Photo/RAYMONDA MAKHAYA

Makokha’s rise to the summit of the sport achieved by his single handicap status has not been devoid of problems and challenges.

“He says he has been turned away from many clubs who couldn’t understand or even accommodate his condition. He says this was the hardest part of his career, but not until Vet Lab accorded him membership that he achieved part of his dreams in the sport. It was Paressh, who was a greenkeeper then, and the 2013 Captain David Kihara who managed to convince the management on Makokha’s membership proposal,” Nelson narrated in finality.

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