A quarter of a century ago, I was studying chemistry at the University of Nairobi. One of my lecturers, Prof Gitu, was very easy going and had some witty remarks to help us along the maze that was organic chemistry.
What I remember him most for however was one remark that he made one hot afternoon that almost made my heart stop.
We were working with a solvent known as pyridine and were supposed to observe and document the reactions with certain other chemicals. The experiment was supposed to be carried out in a fume chamber where the gases from the reactions would be channelled out the lab.
Some complied, but others thought that they would save some time by doing the experiment on the lab benches and not be away from their notepads. Clever shortcuts was what we were all about.
When Professor Gitu walked into the lab to watch our progress, he started chuckling. He walked around slowly and watched as we carried out the experiments. All the while, he was smiling and shaking his head at the same time.
Those who had taken the pyridine out of the fume chambers poured it down the sinks and washed their apparatus quickly in an attempt to hide their violations.
Before leaving the lab, the good professor turned and with a big smile on his face he told us; “If everything you have tried fails, read the instructions. For the males in the room who have been working with pyridine on the benches, you may have reduced your chances of fathering children in future.
Pyridine has that effect on you. I already have enough children myself.” We that, he walked out laughing out loud.
In less than a minute after he left, the chemistry lab was sans men. When we returned a few days later, we followed instruction manuals to the letter.
Unfortunately, as the new golf captains take office this month and some in early 2018, they will not find ready instruction manuals on how to be captain. There are many “…for dummies” books on many topics under the sun (including one about the sun), but a “Golf Captain for dummies” has yet to be published.
Many captains follow traditions, others will have served as vice captains and will have a clue what the job entails but for most, it is business as usual. Get corporate sponsors to sponsor tournaments, officiate over presentation and a few other mundane tasks.
Dear incoming captain, I would however urge you to take this Christmas season to sit back and think about what you would like your year at the helm of your club to be remembered for. If you were playing golf and missed H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta’s speech during Jamhuri Day celebrations, I would urge you to search for it on the Interwebs.
Please set out your focus areas in the same way that the president has set out his “big four pillars” for his second term.
While at this, please set the improvement of junior golf at your club as one of your pillars. One golf club that has consistently had a programme targeted at junior golf is the Nyali Golf and Country Club.
At the just-concluded Nyali Open Championship, youngsters who have come through their junior programme, Daniel Nduva and Mathew Wahome came out first and third respectively.
The two who are on holiday from universities in South Africa have the kind of golf upbringing that all golf captains must wish to have for their junior golfers.
Nduva, who recently won the Kenya Amateur Stroke Play Championship, has an automatic slot to compete in next year’s Barclays Kenya Open.
He will definitely be the one that all the junior golfers from the Coast will be rooting for.
Dear captain, you may want to emulate the junior conveners at the Coast. I recently asked Alice Wahome, Mathew’s mother and the Junior Golf Foundation Coast Representative, what it takes to have a successful junior golf programme.
Her answer; “Passion. Passion for the juniors.” This may sound so simple but passion is impossible to quantify.
I would like to put it to you this way though; if you don’t have several golfers aged 20 and below playing off scratch, then your club has fallen short in the “passion” department.
You may not be able to achieve the target of scratch golfers in your term, but if you plant the seed, your tenure will be remembered for a very long time.
Even if no one else remembers, you will can look at all your “golf offspring” with pride in the future.