Golf on the Wild Side

Kenya might be better known as one of the best safari destinations in the world but as Duncan Forgan explains, travellers would be well advised to pack their golf clubs on any visit to this colourful East African nation

Karen Country Club is routed over a former coffee plantation owned by Out of Africa author, Karen Blixen

The Royal and Ancient game has a long-standing presence in this part of East Africa. The Nairobi Golf Club - which would become the Royal Nairobi Golf Club - was established in 1906 and opened the floodgates for a wave of course construction from the lush central highlands to the panoramic slopes of the Great Rift Valley and the steamy shores of the Indian Ocean coast.

Due to time constraints, we are only able to sample a handful of these layouts on our recent visit to the country - all in or around Nairobi.

Like Muthaiga, Sigona Golf Club enjoys both a venerable history and a pleasantly rolling topography. Laid out in 1938 to a design by eccentric English architect Tom Simpson - a sharp-dressed lover of fast cars responsible for some of the best courses in continental Europe - the course is a beauty. Fairways are lush and relatively generous, while the location on the edge of the Rift Valley, around 6,500ft above sea level, means that short-hitters are given a helping hand. There are several memorable holes, notably the seventh, a rollercoaster that veers left towards a green that’s benched into a small slope and the 17th, a fiendish uphill par-4 played to a hidden plateau green.

Although the golf more than holds its own, the undoubted highlight of the trip is our two-day odyssey to the legendary Masai Mara, arguably Africa’s greatest wildlife reserve.


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