Kenya Golf Guide

Roos following his tee shot during a practice session at Karen Club on Tuesday.


Last time Jake Roos played the Karen Country Club layout, he won the tournament there in 2014. So he has an edge as he goes into this week’s KCB Karen Masters which tees off on Thursday in a first venture into the East African country for the Sunshine Tour.

Roos won the 2014 Barclays Kenya Open there, and, with a solid start to his 2018-19 Sunshine Tour season in which he lies 10th on the Order of Merit after five tournaments, the kind of local knowledge that he has for the R2-million tournament will come in pretty handy.

“It’s one of the traditional African courses, sort of old-style and tight,” said Roos. “It’s not wide open, so you’re going to have to hit it quite accurately. Last time I was here, the course was in great shape and it’s even better now. I’m looking forward to it.”

Situated in large part on the former coffee estate developed by the Danish pioneer Karen Blixen, whose life and times were depicted in the lyrical film ‘Out of Africa’. Indeed, the shade trees from her coffee plantation still dominate parts of the golf course, 80 years after they were planted. So it’s tighter than many of the tour professionals are used to.

It will demand that a premium be placed on accuracy, and it’s there that Roos might find himself in a battle with some of the players who have been straighter off the tee than he has this season at 50.48 percent of fairways hit.

Ahead of him in that telling statistic are the likes of Neil Schietekat, who won the Sun City Challenge early in June, and Justin Harding who has won twice on the Sunshine Tour – and once in Asia – this year already.

Schietekat has hit 72.38 percent of fairways this season, while Harding, who defeated Roos in a marathon play-off for the Lombard Insurance Classic in Swaziland in late May, is lower down on that list at 58.48 percent.

There will be more than just those players in contention however, and Nairobi locals like Dismas Indiza and Jacob Okello will have the chance to convert their familiarity with Karen Country Club into some sort of advantage.

Indeed, one of the major pluses of the tournament is the opportunity it offers both Sunshine Tour professionals and Kenyan players for expansion of horizons. “One area where the tour can expand is into Africa,” said Roos. “This is a great example. Kenya is a great golfing nation. They’ve had a Challenge Tour event for quite some time, so to have a Sunshine Tour event here is brilliant. There’s a lot of scope here, and the guys already love it here.”

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