When to play

The main tourist season in Kenya is from mid December to early February. Although it can be quite hot and dry at this time, the heat means the larger animals tend to congregate at watering holes in the national parks – making them easier to see. There are two rainy seasons in Kenya: the short rains in November, and a longer wet season that usually lasts from the end of March to early May. The rainy seasons actually provide one of the best times for golfers to visit Kenya, when there are fewer tourists on the courses and the hotels are less well frequented. The rain itself also presents generally good golfing conditions, with most of the rain falling at night and leading to lush fairways and greens that hold.

Golfers who are a bit wilder at heart should also consider visiting in September or October, when the colder weather has passed but you can still enjoy views of the Great Migration – when nearly two million wildebeest and zebra cross the Maasai Mara, in what is often described as “the greatest wildlife spectacle on Earth”.

Playing at altitude

Nairobi’s finest courses are all at an altitude of between 5,500 and 6,000 feet and the Great Rift Valley’s course is at 7,000 feet. At high altitude, air pressure is less than the sea-level pressure and therefore less oxygen is absorbed into the body. Allowing a day for the body to acclimatise before playing will reduce the possibility of fatigue, dizzyness or headaches – all symptoms of altitude sickness. And if you do feel like you’re struggling, take the buggy! The effects of alcohol are worse at altitude and it is recommended to avoid alcohol and drink plenty of water, especially in the first few days. The good news however is that the lower air density means your drive will improve by 10-15%. An hour on the driving range is therefore a good idea to assess which clubs work for various distances.

Keeping cool and staying warm

At the Coast, the weather is usually hot and humid and it is important to avoid dehydration, which can lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. Drink plenty of fluids, avoiding alcohol and sugary drinks which speed up dehydration, and wear loose, light coloured clothing and a cap. Sun cream is essential. In Nairobi and particularly in the Central Highlands and Rift Valley, temperatures can be very warm during the day but drop significantly as the sun sets. A sweater or slipover is therefore just as important as
sun cream!

Plan!

It is highly advisable to book your itinerary through one of the specialised golf tour operators who will handle all transport, accommodation and tee-times.  If you are planning your trip independently, don’t crowd your itinerary.  Traffic during rush hour can be very slow and internal flights can be very busy during the high season. If travelling any large distances (>200km) consider flying rather than driving, as Kenya’s roads are far from perfect.

Sports baggage

It is prudent to check the airline’s policy on golf bags via their website. Policies are frequently changing and no-one wants unexpected excess baggage charges at the airport.

Tipping caddies

Caddies rely almost entirely on gratuities so a tip is always warmly welcomed – even though Kenyans are extremely polite people and it will never be demanded.

Take a camera

Whether it’s the panoramas, the on-course wildlife or relaxing at the 19th hole, your memories of golfing in Kenya will be treasured.

And finally…

Play more than one course! Kenya is blessed with such varied scenery, it would be a shame to miss any of it.