16-year-old Titianna Atieno from Vipingo Village has received a golf handicap of 14 just two years after picking up a golf club for the first time during the junior golf clinic run by the Ladies European Tour at Vipingo Ridge, Kilifi County, in December 2019.
One of a group of 20 students from Future Hope Montessori School in Vipingo, Titianna was invited to try her golf skill under the instruction of the professional players as part of the on-site activities during the inaugural Magical Kenya Ladies Open. From that moment, Titianna developed a love for the game and, as part of Vipingo Ridge’s CSR program, began to train twice a week at the exclusive PGA Academy with close mentorship from PGA Professional and Director of Golf Saleem Haji.
At the 2022 Magical Kenya Ladies Open, Titianna received further guidance from her golf idols, the Ladies European Tour players, during the second edition of the junior golf clinic held at the PGA Academy in February.
Alexandra Swayne from the US Virgin Islands was one of the Ladies European Tour players taking the clinic in 2022 and she commented “It was good to teach the kids and show them that no matter where you are or where you come from, it’s good to stick with golf.”
Gabrielle Macdonald from Scotland added “Hopefully we have inspired the kids to play more golf and to enjoy it. It’s great to have role models and have this event in the country to hopefully grow the game.”
Luiza Altman likened it to her own experience “I started in one of these programs in Brazil and I’m really hoping to see some of these Kenyan junior players playing on the tour soon. That would be really exciting.”
Since taking her KCPE exams in November, she spent every day of the school holiday practising, playing on the PGA Baobab Course and working out at the gym. As a result, her performance improved considerably and she has now been awarded an official handicap of 14.
Titianna is the only child of Doreen Rotieh, a single mother who runs a small vegetable kiosk in Vipingo Village. Recognising the potential that the sport has to broaden her horizons, Titanna is dedicated to her golf and looking forward to 2023’s golf clinic with the Tour later this week.
It is hoped that Titianna’s commitment and talent will see her rise as a strong player on the tournament circuit and become a national success story, perhaps taking her place alongside Naomi Wafula, Chanelle Wangari, Mercy Nyanchama and other Kenyan players at the Magical Kenya Ladies Open 2024.
Speaking about her journey, Director of Golf Saleem Haji said “Titianna is a fantastic student and I have personally enjoyed working with her every week at the PGA Academy. Her skill has grown considerably in a short space of time and I’m really proud of how fast she’s improving. Golf can be a doorway out of poverty and we hope to see her go from strength to strength, doing well at competitions, travelling with the game, and showing other Kenyans what can be achieved through this sport.”
This year, another 12 of Future Hope Montessori School’s students will attend 2023’s junior golf clinic with the Ladies European Tour in a bid to find the next star trainee with the same talent, tenacity and vision of Titianna.
The clinic is scheduled to take place on Saturday 4th February. The Magical Kenya Ladies Open begins on 2nd February with 96 players set to take on the challenge of the PGA Baobab Course at Vipingo Ridge.
Spectators can purchase tickets to the four-day tournament through the online platform www.ticketsasa.com which are retailing for KES 500 per day.