Veteran ex-chairman’s invaluable book

Thursday October 5 2017

Former Kenya Golf Union chairman Ian Campbell (left) with current chairman Richard Wanjalla on October 3, 2017 at Karen Golf and Country Club. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Former Kenya Golf Union chairman Ian Campbell (left) with current chairman Richard Wanjalla on October 3, 2017 at Karen Golf and Country Club. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By LARRY NGALA
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The Kenya Golf Union’s appeal for historical items or materials to put up a library of Kenya’s golf history received a big boost this week when a former chairman of the union donated a decades-old golf book.

Ian Campbell, who headed the union in the 1980s, gave the book to current KGU chairman Richard Wanjalla.

The book not only gives an account of the game in Kenya, but also across East Africa.

“This book, which was edited by R. W. Hooper or “Dickie”, as he was known in the golfing circle then, was published in September, 1953, and it has very useful information which the current golfing community may be happy to know,” said the 86-year-old Campbell, who became KGU chairman in 1981 after serving as the union’s secretary for seven years.

In a rare meeting of the current chairman Wanjalla and Campbell at Karen Country Club on Tuesday, Campbell, who also served as captain of Royal Nairobi Golf Club in 1972, paid great tribute to the early African golfers in the country who he said made great contribution to the game of golf in the country.

“We had great golfers in this country who are worth mentioning in the history of the game such as the late John Mucheru, the late Bob Marjan, Dr Chris Obura, the late Philip Ndegwa, Richard Kemoli, David Wandua, Ben Okello, Lawrence Kariuki, the late Mohammed Rajab, Geras Khakali and Sal Davis at the Coast, among many others played a big role in popularising the game,” he said.

Campbell, who started golf as a junior at the age of 10 years in Mombasa and went on to play a handicap six, says  although golf was growing at slow rate, the number of membership at the 18-hole clubs in Nairobi such as Royal, Muthaiga and Karen have improved a great deal.

“Up to 1980, most of these clubs had something like 60 golfers compared to hundreds of golfers currently.”

Campbell, however, had a word of advice for the nine hole clubs which are rushing to upgrade to 18 holes, that they must make sure they have the resources to run 18 hole courses.

“I would rather have a very nice nine hole course than an awful 18-hole course with poor facilities,” he says.

Born 1931 in Mombasa, Campbell moved to Nairobi in 1959 during his school days and joined Royal Nairobi where he served in various committees before being elected later as the captain of the club.

He became the vice chairman in 1980 before taking over as the chairman the following year.