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January 2010

Golf Trends
The way forward for Kenya
By Ikua Karanja

If you have ever played golf hole golf courses to its total
and experienced that fabled (to In Kenya, most golf courses number of courses falls far
us high handicappers) perfect are independent businesses short of the other countries
shot, then you will understand that rely on memberships as ratios (see illustration below).
why golf is the fastest growing their main source of revenue. According to a 2008 KPMG
sport around the world. The Kenya has 39 golf courses; of Golf Benchmark Survey, North
sport has turned itself into its these only 12 are 18 holes; of Africa (Egypt, Morocco and
own industry, with large these 12, only one can be said Tunisia) has 69% of its courses
sporting events, media to have USGA type standards as 18 holes and only 4% are 9
coverage as well as ultra and that is at Vipingo Ridge. holes. South Africa has 69% of
modern equipment and In addition to this statistic, its courses as 18 holes and
merchandize. Kenya has only three golf 23% as 9 holes courses.
resorts; Leisure Lodge Beach
In the past golf courses were & Golf Resort, Windsor Golf In spite of these shortcomings
not seen as much of an asset Hotel & Country Club and the sport is still alive in Kenya
The to a hotel business model; Great Rift Valley Lodge & Golf and has great upside potential.
primary however, with over 32,000 golf Resort. Kenya receives an estimated
source for
courses worldwide, its no one million visitors a year,
Kenyan surprise that they are the focal Compared to other African according to statistics by
Golf point of multifaceted projects countries, such as South Kenya Tourist Board
Courses such as luxury resorts, Africa, Morocco, Tunisia and approximately 60% of visitors
is from
members. residential communities and Egypt, the ratio of Kenya’s 18- are here primarily on holiday.
retirement villages.

THC MONTHLY January 2010
Distriubution of Golf Courses
Improvement of
100.00% existing golf courses
and facilities and
75.00% the development of
new higher quality
golf courses is
25.00% necessary for Kenya
to establish itself as
North Africa 0%
South Africa a golf destination.
27+ Holes 18 Holes 9 Holes

Most business models used in Kenya’s golf facets to young and talented individuals
courses do not attempt to capture this further diversifying employment opportunities
market. The primary revenue source is in the country.
membership subscriptions resulting in the
best tee times reserved for the members. A Finally, the sport can contribute significantly to
few courses though do offer prime tee times the tourism industry in the country. An
to area hotels. KPMG’s survey indicates that additional source of revenue for the industry is
courses located in tourist destinations have a necessary to diversify its attractions thus
higher percentage of green fee rounds. reducing overall reliance on one particular
Green fee rounds can generate great revenue
for golf courses; however, they are subject to It seems that Kenya’s golf industry has a long
seasonality. Attracting golf tourists can result way to go, but when it does get going, and it
in a significant boost. The last check on the will, the potential impact of the sport in the
number of tour operators that specialize on country will certainly be obvious. Vipingo
golf tourism in Kenya yielded only three Ridge has certainly set the pace and standard
companies, a segment that is poised to grow of the kind of course development the country
in the future. needs. In-line with Kenya’s Vision 2030, there
are a number of project proposals that feature
The potential benefits to the country are golf courses as part of their multifaceted
important. According to the KPMG survey, the development.
golf economy includes a number of sub-
sectors that are directly related to the game Improvement of existing golf courses and
(either from the golf facilities or players facilities and the development of new higher
perspective) and also impacts other industries quality golf courses, is necessary for Kenya to
that have a relationship with golf in some form establish itself as a golf destination. Attracting
(e.g. hospitality, tourism and real estate). high profile tournaments, will require USGA (or
USGA type) courses. The potential is there,
Growth of golf as a sport will create a need for what is needed is due diligence and action.
qualified professional Greens Keepers, Course
Managers, and other staff, as well as raise the THC offers investment advisory services for
bar of expertise in the field and with it the golf courses through its international network
wages. In turn, this will lead to the sport of consultants. Contact us at
offering career opportunities in its various