Kenya’s top pro and amateur lady golfers will take on Europe’s crème de la crème next week as the Magical Kenya Ladies European Tour event returns to the country from 10th to 13th February 2022 at Vipingo Ridge.
The Kenya Ladies Golf Union has assembled a strong amateur team made up of four players- Naomi Wafula, Mercy Nyanchama, Faith Chemutai and Chanelle Wangari- while Mombasa based lady pro Bhavi Shah has also been invited to Europe’s biggest stage.
The Kenya contingent will be hoping to fare better than in their last outing in 2019 when none of the amateurs made the day one cut while Bhavi will be angling for her maiden qualification to the weekend rounds.
The amateurs have been under the tutelage of Vipingo Ridge Director of Golf Saleem Haji and have held several training sessions in Nairobi and Kilifi ahead of arguably the largest women’s professional golf competition in Africa.
“We started with club fitting and basic swing mechanics. At this level of competition, you cannot afford to play with unsuitable equipment. We have all that fixed and the girls are raring to go,” Haji disclosed.
The veteran coach was however quick to caution that the girls should not be put under too much pressure and pointed out that the visiting pros from Europe are way ahead of the local girls in terms of experience, capability and exposure.
“Most of the ladies on Ladies European Tour turn pro after reaching a handicap of +7. Our lowest amateur is currently at handicap two so realistically there’s a gap of about nine strokes. I have told the girls not to be anxious but just to try and make the day one cut. If we can have a few of them qualify to play on the second day, that will be great progress,” said Haji.
The coach warned that course management will be key to the girls succeeding on the opening day as they will be up against long-hitting competitors. In the run up to the event, the girls have been exposed to modern golf training equipment at Vipingo to help them generate more power and swing speed.
Said Haji: “They are going to play on a very long course. Being a European Tour event, they will be playing off what’s traditionally known as the men’s (amateurs) tees. So playing a 6800 yards-long course at sea level is akin to playing on an 8,000 yards-long course in Nairobi.”
The Magical Kenya Ladies European Tour failed to take place in the last two years following the suspension of sports activities due to the outbreak of coronavirus. It will feature a field of 96 elite players battling for the Kshs 38.8 million prize purse. The event, first in a series of 31 events in the Ladies European Tour 2022 calendar, will be screened in more than 69 countries worldwide.