Of ‘wakora’ and importance of time-keeping

Friday September 8 2017

Golfers cross the bridge on the 13th hole during the fourth and final round of the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship held at The Ohio State University Golf Club on September 3, 2017 in Columbus, Ohio. PHOTO | MICHAEL COHEN |

Golfers cross the bridge on the 13th hole during the fourth and final round of the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship held at The Ohio State University Golf Club on September 3, 2017 in Columbus, Ohio. PHOTO | MICHAEL COHEN |  

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Back in the day when I was in college, the days when we used to make appointments and stuck by them, I called my father’s office one day to book an appointment to see him the following day.

We set the appointment for 9am. I arrived at 9.15am and greeted my father, nonchalantly. His response was curt: “If you meant to be here at 9.15am, you should have set the appointment for 9.15am!”

My father’s statement took me aback. I was only 15 minutes late and, in any case, he had informed me that he would be in the office all morning.


All the same, I learnt a valuable lesson that day. It is rude to keep anyone waiting. Even if it is for one minute.

Mobile phones have gone and made things worse.

Appointments are made and cancelled willy-nilly. This culture has sneaked into our beautiful game where a number of golfers are serial offenders when it comes to honouring appointed tee times.

If you go through the draws that are published today (below) with a fine-tooth comb, you will notice that some individuals appear in more than one golf club on the same day.

There is no way one person will be expected to tee off at mid-day at say Royal Nairobi Golf Club and also at 1pm at Muthaiga Golf Club.

The only logical explanation for that occurrence would be that the golfer was entered into one of the tournaments without his knowledge.

If this is not the case, and the player actually entered their names on both, then it is the ultimate disrespect to the committees and other golfers when they don’t show up.

The golfers that are in the habit of not showing up should be classified as wakora (scoundrels).

The Rules of Golf require the committee in charge of the competition to establish the times of starting and, in stroke play, arrange the groups in which competitors must play.

This basically means that to run a bona fide competition, the committee must publish a draw. It is not a competition if people just saunter in and form groups at the tee or in the changing rooms. Such a competition would not be considered procedural. The courts would be within their mandate to annul such a competition.

The Rules of Golf also dictate that a golfer must start at the time that the committee has indicated on the draw.

If the committee has set 9.00am as the starting time for a group in a stroke play competition, then all members of the group must be at the tee at 9.00.00am… not a second later.


If any member arrives late, but before 9.05am, they must get a two stroke penalty.

If the player arrives at 9.05.01am, then they must be disqualified.

This happened to me about 10 years ago when I was seven minutes late for a competition at my home club, Limuru Country Club. The starter at the time, Mr Muriuki, told me to go ahead and play but I was disqualified from the competition.

I tried arguing that I was at the club house and could see that my team had not all teed off and that I had arrived on the tee just in time to tee off.

He calmly showed me the time on his clock and told me that I was not there at the appointed time.

That was the day that I learnt the importance of being at the starter-hut on time.

The other golf wakora are the ‘sponsor-hunters’.

These are the people who will look through the published draws and turn up at the club in the hope of getting a slot to play.

They will start calling all the contacts that they have in the sponsoring organisation begging for a slot.

Some will even have the audacity of lying about some of the invited guests not being available in order to take their slots.

For those golf wakora who are in the habit of going through the golf draw and gate-crashing, causing all kinds of problems with the draw, please stop.

The fact that you have had a Safaricom line for 20 years, does not give you the right to turn up at Karen Country Club to play in the Safaricom competition.

If you are not on the draw, then please stay away. Not unless they have post-entry slots. Even then, call in advance.

It is, however, time that clubs and the Kenya Golf Union started punishing people who put their names on draws and fail to turn up.

It is the mark of dishonesty and rudeness to let the draw to remain with your name when you don’t intend to play.