British PM Boris Johnson announcement heralds a return to competitive golf

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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacts outside 10 Downing Street during the Clap for our Carers campaign in support of the NHS, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, May 14, 2020. [REUTERS/Henry Nicholls]

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week announced that those that cannot work from home should return to work. It also came as great relief to golfers in England when the UK government also announced that golf courses could reopen this week.

Despite the caution that the war on the spread of Covid-19 is not over yet, I couldn’t help but sense a glimmer of hope of a return to normal.

Golf is a game of the great outdoors and since it can be played without any contact with fellow competitors, it is probably one of the safest sports in these grim times.

Also looking at the European Tour calendar of events, whereas most events are either postponed or canceled, the Betfred British Masters hosted by Lee Westwood is still scheduled to take place from 30th July to 2nd August.

From the time that the Magical Kenya Open that was scheduled for 12th to 15th of March was postponed, there has not been any other European Tour event. With golf courses now open in England, and hopefully other countries will follow suit, it is the best indication of things beginning to go back to normal.

It is expected that the European Tour will be announcing the new schedule of events towards the end of this month. With that we also hope to get the new dates for the Magical Kenya Open.

Back home, some golfers have been enjoying self-caddied golf and we thank God that we have not suffered anywhere near as much as some European countries.

We, however, have not had any golf competitions and even though majority of golfers in Kenya are amateur golfers and don’t rely on the sport for their bread and butter, we have professional golfers who have suffered immensely during these times.

There was a drive in many clubs to raise money to help caddies but the professional golfers, who are the other group that relies on the game for their livelihood, were generally forgotten.

They may not be able to play competitively with the current government restrictions but hopefully just as the UK government has started taking steps to return to normalcy, we shall see the same here in Kenya.

Talking to one of the Kenyan professional golfers, Nelson Mudanyi, earlier this week he was keen to return to competitive golf. “I have been playing quite well while caddying for myself” said Mudanyi.

“I have to keep the balls on the fairways as I don’t have a caddie to help me search for balls in the rough” he added.

From my discussion with Mudanyi, and in view of the easing of restrictions in the UK, I am positive that we can hope for a start of the Safari Tour series of 2020/20221. As the European Tour resumes in July, it would be a good time for the Kenya Open Golf Limited to start this year’s series of the Safari Tour.

Every golfer knows that in every round, however bad the score is, includes some shots that are so well struck that they bring joy to an otherwise gloomy round. This year is just like that bad round of golf which have been due no fault of our own.

We must, however, remember that we are just playing the first nine holes and we can turn things around in the second nine. There is hope that our second nine will be filled with birdies and eagles.