Since the late 1990s to the early 2000s, the South African based Sunshine Tour made several attempts to stage an event in Kenya and by so doing expand their reach further north and become truly ‘African’.
The Sunshine Tour was founded in the late 1960s – it was then know as the South Africa Tour and later as the South African Tour as it expanded to other Southern Africa states. In 2000, the Tour was renamed the Sunshine Tour, dropping the South Africa(n) tag in an attempt to broaden its appeal across the African continent. In its 2000/01 season the Sunshine Tour included events in Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe and as far north as Zambia and Malawi.
But one influential African golfing nation was glaringly missing from the Sunshine Tour calendar and whilst many attempts had been made to expand the Tour to Kenya, none had been successful.
In 2011, the Sunshine Tour announced it was considering hosting an event at the Kenyan Coast – both Vipingo and Nyali were strong candidates back then, but it was not until 2017 when the break for the Tour came. That year the Karen Country Club was getting ready to celebrate its 80th anniversary and the Karen Masters, a new professional golf event, owned by the club, was included as part of those celebrations. Kenya’s leading bank KCB partnered with Karen to host about 70 golf professionals in a 36-hole tournament that included Pros travelling to Kenya for the 2017 Kenya Open Golf Championship.
The success of that 2017 KCB Karen Masters edition convinced the Karen Country Club, KCB and the Sunshine Tour to include the event as a fully sanctioned Tour event in 2018. Karen provided an international standard championship course, KCB provided the much needed finances for prize money and logistics and the Sunshine Tour was at finally in Kenya!
The 2018 KCB Karen Masters was staged as a full member of the Sunshine Tour and Michael Palmer was the winner with a score of 18-under par, beating Merrick Bremner to second place. Pieter Moolman and Tyrone Ryan finished T3 whilst Martin Rohwer, Daniel van Tonder and Jake Roos finished T5. The top Kenyan was Dismas Indiza who finished T33. Simon Ngige was T44, Mohit Mediratta and Stefan Andersen were T53 and Rizwan Charania was T62.
The 2019 KCB Karen Masters will be played from the 27th to 30th of June at the Karen Country Club. Tickets are available onwww.ke.kcbgroup.com