A family that prays together stays together, so the good book says. This is a mantra that the Wahomes have literally taken a notch higher; they have created a strong family bond by taking to the game of golf. A complete four-ball plus a reserve player, the family of five is arguably one of the success stories in Kenya’s golf circles.
And it has been all bliss over the last 15 years, thanks to the passion and commitment of Alice Wahome. A brief introduction to the “five-ball” will suffice; Mathew (professional), Andrew (handicap 5), Jeremy (handicap 7), Martin (Handicap 11) and Alice (handicap 20).
“It all started as an idea to kill boredom. When we took up the sport after joining Mombasa Golf Club, we didn’t have any friends in the golf fraternity. So we decided to be playing as a family, alongside my sister and thus stuck together,” said Mrs Wahome.
With this decision the Wahomes commenced a journey to stardom. Within a considerable short period, Mrs. Wahome’s children have brought a lot of fame to the family. All the three sons Jeremy, Mathew and Andrew have played for the Kenya national team at junior level competitions. In fact Mathew has gone a step further and turned professional, a feat that Mrs Wahome never dreamt of!
Said Mrs. Wahome: “We never knew where this would go. Between me and my husband, we have spread out roles evenly. He is a better player so he concentrates on pushing the boys on the coaching side while I focus more time on ensuring they participate in national and international events.”
Golf has been a natural fit for the boys. Ironically, though the boys do not have a coach they have performed extremely well becoming a household name in Mombasa and beyond. This, Mrs. Wahome credits to a strict routine and discipline. “It is fortunate that we live just around Nyali Golf Club so the boys just walk to the club. Since my kids have always gone to day schools they are always back home by 3.30 pm and that’s time to go to the club for practice,” says Mrs. Wahome.
Whereas this routine propelled the boys to certain heights, the Wahome’s realized that they had to invest more to get the boys to play at the highest level. They boys have all had short stints at the Gary Player Golf School of Excellence in South Africa. “I thank God that my children have natural talent for golf. However lack of certified coaches in Kenya is such a disservice to the sport. This is an area we really to have to prioritize as a nation if we are serious about this game. It’s a high time we established a national school of golf akin to the Gary Player project,” Mrs Wahome opines.
Granted the success that her children have enjoyed on the course, Mrs Wahome has no regrets having tethered the boys to the sport; “It has been the best way to manage their teenage years. They have literally been brought up in a club environment and therefore learnt the appropriate mannerisms espoused by the golf culture. Golf is the best sport to instill values of integrity and etiquette in children especially during their formative years.”
For her passion for the sport, Mrs Wahome is a dedicated golf ambassador at the coast having held several positions at the club and administrative levels. Today she serves as the Head of Junior Golf for Coast region. In this role, she is tasked with identifying and nurturing junior golfers, a responsibility that she has taken with open arms.
Mrs Wahome’s love for the sport has seen her focus largely on developing junior talent. Her talent pipeline boasts of the likes of Daniel Nduva, Adel Balala, Taher Mohammed, Agil Ishaq and Mathew Wahome, boys who have gone on to represent Kenya in international tournaments. Basking in this glory, Mrs Wahome has now taken up a new cohort which she is silently grooming. The raw talent under her stable comprises 14 year olds- Nathan Ngweno, Alyssa Jamal, Rumil Jayasinge, Zayan Din and Andrew Wahome.
Her pet project though, remains spreading the sport to the less privileged as a way of expanding the talent pool. To say she has embarked on this mission with gusto is an understatement! In 2018, Mrs Wahome launched a talent search programme around Maweni and Kongowea. To kick off the project, she enlisted the services of select Caddies to accompany her to the local primary schools to entice the boys and girls to take up golf.
“We started off by assembling more than 250 children on football grounds. The caddies would then take them through the motions of chipping, putting and basic swing techniques. From this pool we selected the best 18 whom we gave an opportunity to start practicing at Nyali Golf Club. I am glad that well-wishers came forth and paid for these kids the requisite Junior Golf Foundation fees for club access and even bought them playing kit,” said Mrs Wahome.
If the success recorded in the last one year is a pointer to things to come, Mrs Wahome’s juniors will soon be a force to reckon with in the amateur circles. Four players out of the cohort comprising of 10 boys and eight girls, have already been handicapped and have started playing in Nyali Club events.
Back to the family; what does Mrs Wahome consider ultimate success? Being the proud mother of the newest golf professional in the country is a badge of honour that all mothers would love to wear. But having achieved this feat this year, Mrs Wahome still wants more! “As a family we have decided to invest in Mathew as much as he wants to play. We are eager to see him go up to the highest level. We are happy that he has already attained a Bachelor of Commerce degree from University of Cape Town, but we are impressing upon him take up golf as a serious job. Who knows, he may soon end up playing on the European and PGA Tours,” Mrs Wahome advises.
Although it’s been all smooth sailing for the Wahomes, they have also endured some nervy moments in their pursuit for glory on the course. Mrs Wahome recalls her most painful moment in 2016 when Mathew narrowly missed the cut at the Kenya Open.
“I was very nervous as he was on the verge of making history. At 16 years old, he was the youngest player yet standing out in this field of established professionals. It was a very low moment for the entire family. But we managed to pick on the positives and Mathew went on to become a better player,”she reminisces.
At 13 years old, young Andrew is for sure following in the footsteps of Mathew. He is currently playing off handicap five and was the youngest player during the Tannahill 2019 tournament representing Team Mombasa.
Mrs Wahome is convinced that there’s abundant talent out there waiting to be unearthed. She advises parents: “This game can open doors therefore it’s worth investing your time and resources. It is a long process and it requires a lot of patience. Children always watch what you do, if you have fun together everything will work out perfectly.”