Posted by:Eric Njiru
The Kenya Open Golf Limited (KOGL) on Monday announced that the Kenya Open Golf Championship has attained a European Tour status and shall, starting next year, join the prestigious global golf series that features international greats such as Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed, Tommy Fleetwood among others.
The 2019 Kenya Open Golf Championship, which will be held at the Karen Country Club from the 14th to the 17th of March, is expected to draw the interest of top golf talent from across the globe and further boost the country’s sports tourism offering as a result.
While making the announcement, KOGL Chairman, Peter Kanyago, said that the attainment of the European Tour status grants the Kenya Open Golf Championship a larger profile which brings with it greater demands and rewards for all involved.
“Today, I am pleased to announce that the Kenya Open Golf Championship, having been ascertained to attain the requirements to join the European Tour, has officially received the European Tour status and will be part the worldwide golf circuit starting next year. We are delighted to have achieved this milestone as we believe it will propel the Kenya Open Golf Championship to the next level as we embark on this new phase of the tournament,” he said.
Following the milestone, the KOGL has announced a Euros 1.1 Million (Approximately KES 126 Million) prize kitty for the 2019 Kenya Open Golf Championship; double the total prize money from this year’s tournament which marked the championship’s 50th anniversary.
The prize kitty increase also follows the announcement by President Uhuru Kenyatta in March this year that the Government is increasing its commitment towards the tournament.
Remarking on the prize money, Mr. Kanyago said that the increase is as a result of the Government’s support towards next year’s tournament, adding that the move will enhance the profile of the tournament across the region.
“As result of the support by the Government, total prize kitty for the tournament will be doubled from 500,000 Euros to 1.1 Million Euros. As a consequence, we believe that the tournament will attract a higher caliber of top players from across the globe – further raising the profile of the event,” he said.
At the same time, Mr. Kanyago announced that the KOGL, in a bid to prepare local professionals for next year’s tournament, will be hosting a nationwide golf series that will also be used to enhance the growth and development of golf across the country.
“To prepare our local players to cope with the demands of the European Tour, and in line with our strategic objectives, I am delighted to announce that the Kenya Open Golf Limited is launching the Safari Tour – a national wide golf series featuring four-rounds of golf over a period of four days with a prize kitty of Ksh 1 million per event,” he said.
Each Safari Tour occasion will feature a PRO-AM event which will feature host club members, invited elite amateurs and elite juniors. The Tour will also include community outreach programs (including tree planting) and golf development engagements that include golf clinics for school children and juniors in the neighborhood and club members.
“We believe that this series will go a long way in preparing the local pros prepare for the 2019 Kenya Open and enhance their chances of winning the tournament.,” said Mr. Kanyago.
The first Safari Tour event takes place this weekend at the Nyali Golf and Country Club from the 18th to the 22nd of August featuring golf professionals, elite amateurs and elite juniors drawn from across the country.
The series will then move to Vet Lab Sports Club from the 1st to the 5th of September then to the Limuru Country Club from the 27th to the 31st of October. Action will resume at the Thika Greens Golf Club from the 10th to the 14th of November. The series will then break for a month and before resuming at the Karen Country Club from the 15th to the 19th of December ahead of the Christmas break. The series will resume from the 12th to the 16th of January at the Muthaiga Golf Club before a grand finale in February ahead of the Kenya Open in March.
Safari Tour Calendar 2018/19
Event 1 – Nyali Golf & CC – 18 – 22 August
Event 2 – Vet Lab SC – 1 – 5 Sept
Event 3 – Limuru Country Club – 27 – 31 October
Event 4 – Thika Greens- 10 – 14 November
Event 5 – Karen Country Club – 15 – 19 December
Event 6 – Muthaiga Golf Club – 12 – 16 Jan
Event 7 – SAFARI TOUR CLASSIC – FEBRUARY – Venue TBC.
Total Prize Money per event: KES 1 Million.