What you need to know:
- This year’s series started on January 23 when Michael Karanga of Kiambu Golf Club began his course records spree with a 10-under par 62 gross, which eventually saw him pick up his first title and first paycheque.
The curtain comes down in the 2023 NCBA Bank-sponsored Kenya Amateur Golf Championship (KAGC) series, with a star field of 87 players expected to parade at the par-71 Nyali Golf and Country Club course in Mombasa’s mainland north from 7.30am on Friday.
The 54-hole stroke play event, which has attracted players from Kenya and Uganda, winds up the usual 26 events series, which was reduced to 25 this year following the cancellation of the Uhuru Shield at Royal Nairobi Golf Club last weekend due to the poor condition of the course.
This year’s series started on January 23 when Michael Karanga of Kiambu Golf Club began his course records spree with a 10-under par 62 gross, which eventually saw him pick up his first title and first paycheque.
The Sigona victory triggered what was to be the most successful season for the 28-year-old Karanga, the grandson of retired Kiambu professional golfer Michael Karanga Mwaura.
From Sigona, Karanga not only clinched 13 other titles out of the 16 events he has played so far but also shattered some course records while winning some of the events like the Coast Open, Malindi Open and the Manchester Salver in Eldoret.
He is, therefore, the man to beat in Mombasa this weekend, though he will be declared the best amateur golfer of 2023 irrespective of the result.
He is currently leading in the KAGC series Order of Merit with 1,213 points, 581 points ahead of his closest rival, John Lejirmah from Kenya Railway Golf Club.
“I am going for nothing else but to win the tournament," Karanga told Nation Sport en route to Mombasa.
He will face Uganda’s Godfrey Nsubuga, who beat him in his Kiambu backyard two weeks ago during the Kiambu Open.
Nsubuga, the current Uganda Open Amateur champion, concluded an East Africa double by winning the Tanzania Open at the Kili Golf Resort in Arusha, Tanzania, on November 28.
Also in the mix is another Ugandan player, Andrew Ssekibejja, a former Uganda Open champion, who is still chasing his first victory on Kenyan soil.
Meanwhile, Adel Balala, a member at Nyali and Vipingo Ridge, is all out for a treble this weekend after beating Lejirmah by four shots in the tournament to retain the title last year.
Balala will lead a strong local brigade, including youngsters Andrew Wahome, Nathan Ngweno, William Kaguta and the hot-charging Gurbux Singh.
Also on the line-up will be Mombasa Golf Club’s Henry Kamau and Sammy Mulama.
The field also includes lady golfers Naomi Wafula from Vipingo, Joyce Wanjiru (Kiambu), Margaret Njoki (Golf Park), Diana Mbuba (Royal) and home player Mary Kandu, who will be battling it out for the cash prizes plus World Amateur Golf Ranking points.
Friday’s first round gets underway at 7.30am with the last three balls of Nsubuga, Singh and Gachau to tee off at 12.30pm.
Meanwhile, the par 73 Ruiru Sports Club, which marks 100 years of existence this weekend, has lined up several activities culminating in the main tournament on Saturday, where over 200 players are drawn.
Speaking ahead of the anticipated event, an ecstatic club chairman Dominic Chege said: "It has been a century of learning, progress and growth filled with immense contributions from individuals who have been committed to the excellence of this great club."
As part of the centenary celebrations, the club hosted an expo golf day, swimming competition, bowling, chess competition for juniors, centenary junior golf tournament and a charity golf event that culminated in a tree planting exercise, as Ruiru Sports Club also contributed to environmental conservation efforts.
The Thika Super Highway-based facility boasts 2,433 members and has been hosting various corporate golf events.
This weekend’s event is sponsored by East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL), BF SUMA, Maridady, Prife International and Fresha Dairy Brands.