Golf in Kenya – A Royal Pedigree

With long days, consistent sunshine, and evening rains to nourish its courses, Kenya has always offered the perfect golfing escape from the northern hemisphere. When the first Europeans settled here in the late 19th century, it was commonly said that each community should have a church, a club and a golf course – although not necessarily in that order…

In 1906, just seven years after the East African Railway arrived in the swampy Maasai country known as Enkare Nyrobi, Kenya’s first golf course opened in what is now Upper Hill. The Nairobi Golf Club – which would become the Royal Nairobi Golf Club – opened the floodgates for an intrepid band of golf-course architects, who went on to build dozens of courses from the lush central highlands to the panoramic slopes of the Great Rift Valley, and on to the sparkling Indian Ocean coast.

Kenya now has 42 golf courses, at least eight of which have hosted major tournaments and are considered to be of international standard. A variety of smaller courses offer unique geographical quirks for the connoisseur: from “Kenya’s only uphill course” on the slopes of Nakuru’s extinct Menengai volcano; to Mount Kenya Safari Club, where the Equator and a rich variety of wildlife cross the fairways; to one of the unlikeliest courses you’ll ever come across on the salt-encrusted shores of Lake Magadi.

And then there is Kenya’s colourful colonial history, which allows you to brush shoulders with some of the most legendary figures from Africa’s past: whether playing on the site where Karen Blixen grew her coffee in Nairobi, or beside the home of Scouts founder Lord Baden Powell in Nyeri; following in the footsteps of the late, great Seve Ballesteros at Muthaiga; or chasing the legends of Winston Churchill and Bing Crosby on the slopes of Mount Kenya. Wherever you go in Kenya, there is always history: rich, ancient and enduring.

So don’t just pack your clubs and your gloves. Bring your binoculars and your walking boots. Bring your family and your friends. Whichever way you look at it, a golfing holiday in Kenya is just too good not to share.