By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawi golf pros, Paul Chidale, Moses Simon, Victor Kachepatsonga and others have stepped up their preparations in anticipation of participating in the Kenya’s Safari Tours that is expected to resume next month.
The players are since calling for sponsorship to meet their flights and accommodation costs in Kenya for the four Tours that start on October 4-7 at Limuru Country Club.
The second is from October 10-14 at Royal Nairobi Golf Club, the third from October 17-21 at Vet Lab Sports Club and the 4th at Sigona Golf Club from 24-28.
The players manager, Patridge Shycal said in the past Malawi Airlines subsidized the pros’ air tickets to Tours outside Malawi but since the airlines is currently not running direct flights to Nairobi, the alternative is through either Kenya Airways or Ethiopian Airways.
“So it means the players have to dig deep from their pockets since the alternative means of travel will be a much longer route,” said Shycal, who is also vice-president of Professional Golfers Association Malawi (PGAMW).
“Otherwise the players are in good form because they have been practising throughout the COVID-19 restriction period as the government allowed us to practise since golf is not a contact sport.
“In golf, the social distancing measures is always practised even without the COVID-19 preventive measures and after each practice session, the players did not socialize further but left for various homes.
“We were at an advantage because other countries were not allowed even to practice.”
Shycal said if the Malawian pros perform very well in the four Tours, then they automatically book their tickets for the lucrative Kenyan Open.
According to reports from Kenya, more than 50 professional golfers are expected to take part in the Safari Tour at Limuru Country Club on October 4 and the top 12 players will earn slots to play in the Magical Kenya Open in March next year at the Karen Country Club.
Kenya Open Golf Limited (KOGL) tournament director, Patrick Obath, is quoted by www.t-off.co.ke as saying they are looking to give a glimmer of hope to the golf fraternity and toncontinue growing the game of golf in Africa.
He added that eight events will be played in Kenya while Uganda and Rwanda will host two rounds and that the 2019/2020 Tour had a prize fund of $180,000 across 12 events.
He said though KOGL has maintained last season’s guidelines for eligibility and scoring system, the 2020-21 season will be played under stringent medical guidelines.
“The tour shall follow the strict protocols to avoid the spread of COVID-19 among its members thus the tournament will start without the use of caddies,” Obath is quoted as saying.
“The visiting professional golfers will be required to present a recent certificate confirming a negative COVID-19 status and should any member or official of the tour fall sick during the tournament, there will be a medical team at hand to ensure that they are isolated safely and that they are taken care of until they recover.”
Under the Tour rules, players are required to pay 10,000 Kenyan shillings as registration fees.
Only 20 players make the cut at every event with the tour winner decided on the total points amassed.
Chidale is Malawi’s current number one pro with a lot of experience playing in international tours in Kenya and Zambia together with Simon Moses and Kachepatsonga.
For many years, Malawian golfers have been playing as amateurs and that status forbid them from receiving cash prizes but they were entitled to material prizes like golf-related equipment, television sets, microwaves, trophies and other prizes.
Then it was decided to form the Professional Golfers Association Malawi (PGAMW) in a bid to help top notch golfers earn money from playing golf as it is done in other countries.
PGAMW came up with the Warm Heart Pros Tour two years ago one of the international tours the association pledges to be hosting annually apart from the local tournaments.
Former Army Commander General Henry Odillo retired, is PGAMW’s president, Shycal as vice-president, Sakurai Mbanda as treasurer and Welkam Phiri as legal & corporate affairs director.
Other directors are Chilungamo Chimwaza (tour & player liaison); Dingaan Chirwa (rules & competition); Ben Wandawanda (sponsorships) and Catherine Matura (communications).
Other PGAMW directors include Webster Kaunga, Aboo Mohammed, Chikhulupiliro Mphatso, Abdul Vindhan and Gift Gondwe.