Professional golf in the country will now be run by a new entity – Professional Golfers Association of Kenya, PGA-K- after the sports body received the greenlight from the Sports Registrar.
In a move that now grants it independence from Kenya Golf Union, PGA-K says it is the sole body charged with running all aspects of professional golf in Kenya and will negotiate directly with the government as an autonomous sports federation on funding and sports development programmes for its members.
“The registration of PGA-K is a big moment for professional golfers. Lumping professional golf with amateur golf has really stagnated our growth. I am glad the Sports Registrar saw the merit in our argument and allowed us to have our own federation,” said Charan Tethy, Chairman PGA-K. In line with the new Sports Act requirements, all golf activities had been placed under Kenya Golf Federation, KGF, a move that was contested by the professional golfers. KGU and KGF are currently embroiled in a supremacy battle.
In line with the Sports Act, PGA-K has crafted a five-year blue print and provided a funding wish-list to the Ministry of Sports optimistic that the government will include professional golf in its budget allocation.
“We believe this is the way to go. In the past there have been no clear allocations for professional golf. All government support was just channeled to KGU and as a result much allocations went to development of the game at the amateur level. But now we have an opportunity to receive direct support to fund our initiatives,” said Tethy.
Aware of the complexities of government support, PGA-K has come up with a two-pronged approach to address its financial health. The Association has set up an executive board to solicit for sponsorship for its programmes while at the same time mooting a plan to start a PGA-K Tour.
Said Tethy: “We don’t want to make the same mistakes we did under Professional Golfers of Kenya Ltd, PGK. We are going to co-opt three non-members on the executive board, men and women of influence in the game, to help us push our commercial agenda. PGA-K will only stand on its feet if we come up with our own Tour that will ensure our members earn decent prize money throughout the year.”
The entry of PGA-K marks the end of an era for the cash strapped PGK which has had mixed fortunes in its 30 years of existence. After a promising start, PGK has seen corporate sponsorship drop to an all-time low while the number of golfers graduating to the paid ranks has been very low as many leading amateurs shun the pro ranks.
“Despite the challenges we have encountered under PGK, I think it’s fair to say we have done well to some extent. We have produced many good players who have brought pride to the country during Kenya Open but lack of consistent playing opportunities has been our bane,” Tethy observed.
All members of PGA-K will now be expected to apply directly to the Ministry of Sports to be licensed as sports professionals. There are about 60 professional golfers in Kenya.