Corporates Loving Golf

Historically, golf has been considered to be a costly sport in Kenya with difficulty in accessing equipment kits and membership clubs to play at. But now golf is enjoying increased corporate attention and bank sponsorships in the post-covid period. Some of these initiatives had begun in the period before the shutdowns in 2020, but the increased need for individuals to exercise in open spaces boosted more interest in hiking, cycling, jogging, and golfing. Golf clubs were previously seen to be losing touch with young people, and many of the new initiatives are designed to turn this around. 

Some ongoing corporate golf partnerships are:  

  • Kenya has been a multiple winner of Africa’s Best Golf Destination at the annual World Travel Awards and the Kenya Tourism Board is keen on using golf to promote tourism both by local and international travelers. Golf is played year-round in Kenya and the country has easy connections to other tourism facilities. KTB cites a consultancy research report that golf travelers spend 2.5x more than leisure travelers and stay for longer periods 
  • Absa Kenya has a long-running sponsorship of the Kenya Open Golf tournament which, with the support of the Government that aims to boost tourism into the country, is known as the Magical Kenya Open and is part of the European Tour. The 2022 edition tournament was played in March at the Muthaiga Club and was won, for the first time, by a Chinese golfer, Ashun Wu.
  • This year, Kenya Airways joined as a corporate partner and had aircraft fly past over Muthaiga on two days of the tournament and, as an official sponsor offered discounted rates to golfers and fans while ferrying in PGA officials working at the tournament. 
  • NCBA has the NCBA Golf Series with ten tournaments around the country that was in Kitale last week and will next be in Kampala, Uganda.  In 2021, the series had 13  tournaments that attracted 1,700 golfers. Some juniors golfers who participated won qualification to two international events – the Rome Classic (Italy) and the Big Five (South Africa).  
  •  The Safaricom Golf Tour has received sponsorship of Kshs 100 million, for a 14-leg tournament that will involve outreach to local communities and make the sport more accessible – it will rope in corporate and amateur players, juniors (play on Sundays), caddies (compete on Mondays) at the different legs. It aims to find new talent for the sport, especially young golfers, and winners of different legs will feature at the finale at Vipingo Ridge in August. The Vipingo Ridge course was launched in 2010 and continues to host several leading international golf tournaments. 
  • Also on the European Tour is the Magical Kenya Ladies Open which is played at the Vipingo course. The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) is the main sponsor of the tournament which this year featured 90 golfers from 25 countries. The tournament also got a Kshs 20 million sponsorship from Safaricom’s M-Pesa who held a junior golf clinic.
  • Crown Paints and Prime Bank are part sponsors of the US Kids Foundation golf series along with Safaricom and NCBA. The three-year program will be run through the Junior Golf Foundation (JGF) to promote golf development through the training of up to 40 coaches across the country and supports local golf tours to introduce more young people to the sport. It has held events at Limuru and Muthaiga and will have more at Karen and Royal (Nairobi) all leading to a finale at the Muthaiga Golf Club in May 2022.
  • Kenya Ports Authority will have tournaments in different cities of its operations – Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu. 
  • The Tannahill Shield one of the largest amateur golf tournaments in the country is ongoing at the Royal Nairobi Golf Club this Easter Weekend. It is sponsored by Jamii Telecom, Rentco and Chipper Cash, a remittance company. 
  • In 2021, Absa Kenya sponsored the Savannah Tour Classic a new event created for the European tour in the recovery from Covid and was staged ahead of the Kenya Open. 
  • The Johnnie Walker Classic golf series resumed after eight years, sponsored by EABL’s The Johnnie Walker Classic golf series resumed after eight years, sponsored by EABL’s Kenya Breweries. “Road to Gleneagles” will have amateur and professional golfers compete at 20 clubs across the country ahead of the finale in May 2022 where the winning team will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to play at the Gleneagles in Scotland which is one of the top golf courses in the world. For the professionals, participation will help them to improve their competitiveness for the European tour events played in Kenya. 
  • Insurance companies including ICEA and Liberty (a Stanbic affiliate) also support golf as do other companies in the sector. 
  • EDIT: Amateur golfers are invited to enter the Race to Vipingo Ridge by registering and submitting scores achieved during “club nights” at their home clubs between 18 April and the end of June for a chance to win a chance to play in the finals at Vipingo Ridge, with their transport and accommodation careered for. Note, there is an entry fee for the qualifying rounds.
  • EDIT: NMG has the Nation Classic Golf Series again for 2022.