Rules Blog: Shona McRae in Kenya
The last thing I expected to see after travelling over 4000 miles from St Andrews was a picture of the Old Course and The Royal and Ancient Clubhouse, but that’s exactly what greeted us when we checked into the Windsor Golf Hotel & Country Club in preparation for The R&A Rules School in Kenya.
This is the first of two Schools that Deputy Chairman of the Rules of Golf Committee Chris Hilton, R&A Rules of Golf Committee member David Bird and myself are conducting in Africa over a two-week period.
It’s been eight years since The R&A was last in Kenya to conduct a Rules School. Golf is firmly established as a sport in Kenya, but we were keen to find out to what extent. Spending time with the Kenya Golf Union officials revealed the extent of their junior development work, caddie playing opportunities and golf training programmes for talented players. There’s undoubtedly a great desire to keep encouraging the growth of the game in the country.
It is evident that, outside of South Africa, Kenya is the most advanced golf-playing nation in Africa with over 38 courses to its name. Whilst funding is crucial to the further development of golf in the region, there is a general enthusiasm and desire to ensure that this is the “home of golf” in East Africa.
Attending the School itself were 75 delegates from many of the clubs in Nairobi and the surrounding areas, as well as representatives from Tanzania, Rwanda, Libya, Nigeria and South Africa. With seven different countries represented at the School, it has proven to be a truly pan-African event and it is encouraging to see so many interested in learning more about the Rules of the game.
Despite the threat of rain, we managed to carry out the practical aspects of the School outdoors, demonstrating the Rules on course and offering the delegates the chance to perform as a referee in front of their peers. 63 delegates then sat The R&A exam to assess their level of knowledge of the Rules.
Talking to the delegates during the presentations, it was apparent that the wildlife, for which the area is famous for, could result in some unusual rules problems for golfers. Hippos standing on the ball, snakes in the hole and monkeys stealing golf balls may be unusual in other parts of the world, but they’re a real concern here.
Hopefully many of the delegates will return to their own clubs and pass on some of the information that they learnt during the course, encouraging further learning of the Rules. But for The R&A team, the immediate challenge is to transport our banners, presentation materials and luggage as we head to South Africa to set up for the next School – this time a Referees School for representatives of the South African Golf Association to be held in Cape Town.