Golf Etiquette

Golfing in Kenya is a relatively gentle affair, with little of the formal marshalling you see on the major European and American courses. So while you will find a healthy respect for the traditions of the game, expect a somewhat more relaxed attitude to formality on the course.

Kenyan golf courses allow a maximum four-ball group and players observe the etiquette of letting quicker groups play through. As with most international courses, Kenyan courses expect a rate of play of approximately 15 minutes per hole, and therefore allow generous gaps between tee-off times. Your round shouldn’t take more than four and a half hours. Generally most courses are not too busy during the week, but they can get busy at weekends – so bookings are advised.

Kenya’s main courses all have half-way refreshment stops, with many offering packaged and fresh snacks as well. Most golfers are not in a hurry either, so you can take time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings – including some of the most exotic flora and spectacular birdlife anywhere in the world.

Availability

Most of Kenya’s golf clubs have a weekly ‘club night’, when members enjoy exclusive use of the course for the afternoon, or in some cases for the whole day. Competition days are usually held during the weekends. At all other times, visiting golfers can usually just show up and play – although, again, prior bookings are recommended. Clubs have a relaxed attitude towards juniors, and 16 years is generally considered to be the minimum playing age.

Price

One of the best things about golf in Kenya is the cost. The courses are far easier on the pocket than their European or American counterparts. Green fees vary between courses and days of the week, but usually come in significantly under US$50 for an 18-hole round and for that you get first-class facilities, welcoming clubhouses, and miles of tranquil fairways – often all to yourself. The only nominal extra cost will be a caddy, which given the altitude and climate is worth every shilling. Kenya’s golf clubs welcome non-members and do not insist on visitors taking out ‘temporary membership’ or producing handicap cards.

Caddies

Caddies in Kenya are great companions as well as competent golfers, and if requested will offer invaluable advice on every shot. They are also incredibly proficient at finding lost balls, and don’t seem at all worried about the wildlife that may be lurking in the rough! All caddies speak excellent English, and will of course be delighted to help you improve your Swahili.

Courses generally charge a caddy fee of $6-8, which is paid directly to your caddy. An additional tip for a personal ‘thank you’ will also be much appreciated.

Clubhouses and Attractions

The diverse attractions close to Kenya’s courses ensure that golfers and their families rarely have to part ways to make the most of a “golf safari”. All the courses featured in this publication offer the facilities of first-class country clubs, from fine cafés and restaurants, to swimming pools and luxury spas, tennis courts and a rich variety of games, such as table tennis, snooker and movies. The coastal courses provide easy access to a world-class list of watersports, from glass-bottom boat rides to kite-surfing and scuba-diving, while the Nairobi courses offer beautiful walks and some of the best birdwatching in the country.

Then there are the wilder excursions, ranging from boat rides among hippos at the Great Rift Valley Golf Resort to swimming with whale sharks near Leisure Lodge. Even in Nairobi, the wilds are never far away: Karen Country Club is a stone’s throw from the Giraffe Centre, where you can feed rare Rothschild giraffes, as well as the enchanting baby elephants and rhinos at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Such places will keep your family entertained while you play golf – ensuring you can join them for the “real” action of a longer safari in one of Kenya’s legendary national parks.