Ben Omuodo: I will take golf to the masses

  • September 13, 2020
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How’s KGU faring on in the wake of Covid-19?

There’s been quite some disruption in the Union’s programmes in the last few months. Fortunately we had rolled out a long-term strategy a few years ago and we have stuck on this roadmap implementing it in bits. I have the benefit of having joined the Union as an executive member since 2014 so I have a clear view of where we want to be. I believe we are doing very well in executing our mandate.

You are so passionate about taking golf to grassroots. How do you plan to achieve this daunting task?

At KGU, we not only regulate the game but we are tasked with promoting and growing the sport so that it gains popularity across the country. There’s no reason why golf should not be a mass sport like rugby and football.  That for me is really the area of focus during this year.  

We have laid out a plan to work with both the National and County governments. Under this arrangement, golf is going to be introduced in the school’s sports curriculum. Currently, golf is only taught in a few private schools. We want to change this by taking the curriculum to public schools beyond Nairobi and Mombasa.  

We not only want school children to be aware of the game but also make them interested and encourage them to take up the game. The fact that the government has agreed to push golf curriculum in schools is a very big achievement. We are going to start with primary schools so that the children have a longer time to play; this will ensure that we have a steady pipeline to feed the professional level. We are working on this one together with the Professional Golfers of Kenya because they have a well-established network countrywide. We shall also incorporate some golf instructors who are licensed to teach.

The newly elected KGU Executive team

Due to the limited number of golf teachers and instructors, we shall improvise a rotational system across the country. We have also presented this project to R&A for assistance support in terms of technical and financial support. We are also reaching to all golfers in the country requesting them to help by way of donating used equipment.

We shall also continue focusing on junior golf development in our effort to spread the game around since that this is the only way you can secure the future of the game. The Junior Golf Foundation has been doing a great job and we just want to create for them a bigger umbrella to run their programs more efficiently.

The national amateur golf team performance has been on the decline in the last two years. Are we going to see change in strategy?

Our priorities have changed a bit. For a long time it was a case of every time you go out, you have to come back with a trophy. So we realized that we were just concentrating on the same players   because they were good but when they grow a little older they are not going to be able to perform at the level which is required. So the Union made a conscious decision that any time we are going out to compete we have to include junior players in the team for their development and for the experience.  So this is a long-term strategy and the juniors on the national team programme are already showing a lot of promise. We shall continue keeping them together though we may not get the desired results immediately. 

How’s the financial health of KGU?

We rely mainly on the affiliation fees paid by members to run our programmes. We have been lucky to get some support from corporates and the government. Our income has also been supplemented by the International Pairs event which we launched last year. But honestly we need more funds. We would have asked our members to consider increasing the affiliation fees but this is not ideal at the moment. We shall revisit the issue of affiliation fees very soon. We are also optimistic that we shall start benefitting from the national government’s Sports Fund very soon. 

So what should golfers look out for at the end of your term?

First, I want to ensure that the National Golf Academy is up and running because this is where all our juniors’ programmes will be run from. The academy will operate from the Lenana School golf course that is currently under reconstruction. One of my priorities is to ensure that course is up and running hopefully this year. I know the Lenana School course has been on the cards for a few years now, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.  I want to be judged by how much difference I make in terms of junior golf development by predominantly increasing the number of junior players- hopefully doubling the data base. 

Secondly, I would like to oversee a smooth transition to the universal golf handicapping system before the end of this year. We are on course as the course rating exercise is progressing well. Lastly, I want to take golf to all the corners of this country. Golf must become a sport for all!

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