The delayed Kenya Open Golf Limited owned and run Safari Tour 2020/21 edition is finally on, with the opening event to take place at the scenic Limuru Country Club course from October 4.
This comes barely a week after Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed launched the guidelines for the resumption of sporting activities during the Covid-19 pandemic. Kenya Open Golf Limited has wasted no time in launching the regional tour which for the first time this year, it may visit Rwanda.
In a virtual launch that was attended by most of the local and regional professionals as well as golf officials, Kenya Open Golf Limited tournament director Patrick Obath who is also the Safari Tour chairman said however, that the prize money like in the 2019/20 season, will remain Sh1 million as opposed to the Sh1.5 million which had been announced at the end of the last season at Karen Country Club.
"We have not been able to get more sponsors though we are still trying, hence the prize money will remain as it was last season. First it is good news that we can have the opportunity to play again and have another chance to try and make it count," said Obath.
Obath said qualification will now be based on a roll over points from the three seasons due to postponement of this year's Magical Kenya Open.
"The qualification will be based on 10 per cent points from the first season, 20 from the second and 70 per cent from the third season that is about to start,' explained Obath.
But one of the leading pros in Kenya Greg Snow had issues on the points system. "I don't get it on this points system. I won five events last season and I did not win the order of merit. In worldwide tours if you win five tournaments you clean the order of merit. I did not even finish second, all the same, it is great to be back playing on the tour again. I think they have done what they could to get the tour started, and I must thank them for that. I can't wait to get back out there," said Snow.
he opening event at Limuru will mark the start of four-back-to-back events to be played at Royal Nairobi Golf Club, Vet Lab, and Sigona.
Obath said this had been done in order to ensure that players do not come and play one event and then go back to where they came from. "We would like players to plan well for the events as they will come play back to back before planning for the Uganda edition."
"The members of the Safari Tour have been keen to resume active competition ever since the suspension of all sports activities. Professional golfers love the game and is key to note it is also their source of livelihood. As we start this third season of the Safari Tour under the shroud of this pandemic, we are looking to give a glimmer of hope to our members and continue growing the game of golf in Africa" said Obath.
Commenting on the launch of this season's series, Nigeria's Andrew Odoh, one of the regional players who had qualified said it was unforeseen circumstances that led to the cancellation of this year's Magical Kenya Open event and that is well understood.
"Not the best of feelings, but in it's better to give everywhere a fair chance which the tour has done and it is all good," added Odoh.
In all there will be a minimum of 10 events with Uganda again expected to host three of them and Rwanda one with the rest to take place in Kenya.
The tour shall follow the strict protocols to avoid the spread of Covid-19 among its members thus see the tournament tour kicked off without the use of caddies. The visiting professional golfers will need to come with a recent certificate confirming a negative Covid-19 status. However, should any member or official of the tour fall sick during the tournament, there will be a medical team at hand to ensure that they are isolated safely and that they are taken care of until they recover.
"This has been a difficult time for sports people in the world. We are grateful to the Kenya Open Golf Limited for announcing the start of the Safari Tour. This is the best news that we as professional golfers have received in a long time," said John Wangai, the Captain of the Professional Golfers of Kenya.