Golf Tourism in Kenya: Five Courses to catch up on the Trend
According to the Global Golf Trade Organization (IAGTO), golf tourism is on the rise. This unique trend in sport tourism continues to register a steady growth in the overall global tourism industry. A recent survey by IAGTO reveals that golf tour operator’s holiday sales grew by an average of 11.1% in 2013 against a 9.3% in 2012. While the 2014 report is yet to be released, the experts had projected an even better year with a 20% growth prediction in golf related holiday bookings.
It may be on this background that the Kenya Tourism Board hosted golf writers from around the world on a tour of the country’s best golf courses and facilities in a bid to exploit this exponential market. In line with Vision 2030, KTB appears keen on propelling tourist arrivals, evident in its recent partnership with Jovago.com – Africa’s leading Online hotel Booking Site in order to enhance online presence of Kenyan hotels. In addition to the conventional booking methods, the traditional and safari tour products, online/global access, as well as Golf Tourism are two more areas that Kenya can capitalize on. Below is a list of some of the country’s leading Golf Courses, and corresponding accommodation for Golfers.
Vipingo Ridge – Baobab Course
Undoubtedly Kenya’s newest and top-ranking Golf destination, Vipingo is home to a five-star private residential development overlooking the Indian Ocean in Kilifi – 100 kilometers from Mombasa. The 18’ hole, 72 par course was designed and laid out by Wimbledon legend, David Jones and constructed to USGA’s championship standards. It’s the first of the proposed two courses that will no doubt propel Vipingo world’s list of most panoramic courses. Vipingo Ridge stands on an expansive, lush green 2, 500 acre estate. The course boasts of a club house, a Five Star hotel – Vipingo Ridge and exquisite holiday homes mostly occupied by golfing enthusiasts.
Muthaiga Golf Club.
Regarded as one of East Africa’\s prettiest, Muthaiga Golf Club pioneered the courses in Kenya in 1913 with a 9’ hole course that would be upgraded to 18’ in 1926. Located to the north of Nairobi-the Kenyan capital, Muthaiga has nurtured enough champions who have since risen to be world recognized masters including Ballesteros who went on to win both The Open Championship as well as World Match Play Championship. Trevor Immelman (2000) another Muthaiga protégé has also recorded a number of international awards under his club. The course, fondly referred by members to as the home of golf continues to foster champions through different tours such as The Kenya Open. Golfers can stay at the Kingdom Gardens Guest House, a minute drive away from the green fields.
Rift Valley Golf and Country Club
Perched on one of the hills stepping from the floors of the Great Rift Valley, the 18’ hole course enchantingly merges nature and luxury for an ultimate sporty and relaxing adventure. From the club house and lodge, players enjoy magnificent views of Lake Naivasha complimented by a magical view of the jagged edges of Mount Longonot and the thick forests forming massive canopy over Kenya’s watershed-The Aberdares Mountains.
The Rift Valley Golf Club bagged the ‘leading Golf Resort in Kenya – 2010 and 2011 World Travel Awards, distinguishing itself as a recognized golf destination. The course boasts of 5 water features spread across the well bunkered holes.
Nyali Golf and Country Club
Lined with lanky palm trees, blooming Madagascan flames and flowering bushes, Nyali Golf and Country Club is a traditional coastal course complimented by the hospitability of the Swahili culture. The club is located in the green suburbs of Nyali with unhindered access to world-renown Mombasa beaches. Characterized by a mild gradient, this 18’ course also has an established junior course and therefore take pride in generational golfing. It’s very ideal for young starters and boasts of the highest number of junior players in the country.
Windsor Golf and Country Club
Ranked among eleven of the world’s top city golf clubs, The Windsor Golf and Country Club is an ideal course for business travelers wishing to catch a quick round of golf in between meetings. This is even made easier by the 5 Star Golf Hotel on site made up of a cluster of impressive Victorian style building designed into cottages and suites for resident guests. The course has a unique country feel characterized by coffee bushes and trees spread across the verdant valley. Bird lovers will enjoy significant sightings including Egyptian geese, brown eagles and black kites.
Kenya has forty golf courses located in different parts of the country and although a niche sport, we cannot afford to ignore the growing numbers of tourists attracted by this sport. The exclusivity of the sport also means higher tourist expenditure therefore supporting both cultural and economic growth.
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