Saturday, 08 March 2014
Huge crowds gather for Day Three of the Barclays Kenya Open (Thomas Mbuvi)  (EuropeanTour)
Huge crowds gather for Day Three of the Barclays Kenya Open (Thomas Mbuvi) (EuropeanTour)
The Barclays Kenya Open is a truly historic golf event which has roots all the way back to 1967 and Inder Talwar, who was the local tournament director for 14 years beginning in 1984, believes the tournament has grown to become its own enterprise in recent years.

The crowds which descended upon the beautiful Karen Country Club on the third day’s play only served to emphasise how big this event really is locally, one of the biggest in the country’s sporting calendar.

Before joining the Challenge Tour schedule in 1991, the Kenya Open witnessed some memorable winners, including the great Seve Ballesteros and fellow former Major winner Ian Woosnam. 

Talwar was heavily involved when European golf’s second tier tour joined forces with the event and he believes it brought a whole new dimension to the tournament, one which has remained and become ever more prevalent with every passing year.

“It became more organised,” he said. “There were administrators collecting the entry fees and all of that. We had our contingent from the East African nations and South Africa. We had numbers allocated for each country.

“It was very cosmopolitan when the Challenge Tour came on board. I remember once there was a Ryder Cup year when every player that played for Europe had played in the Kenya Open, some of them had even won. That was my selling point!

“This tournament and this tour became the training ground for the future of golf in Europe and America. 

“It definitely fitted our portfolio in terms of trying to improve Kenyan golf while it also helped in terms of getting sponsors. These young up and coming stars were coming over and they were the future of golf.

“That is the way we were projecting it back then and I think it remains the same to this day.

“The tournament is much more formal now and much more professional. There is much more organisation and more awareness. I think sponsorship with the big corporations is a step in the right direction because it has now built up to such an extent that sponsors will be coming to us asking to get involved, rather than us going searching for sponsors.”

Indeed, Talwar’s friendship and business partnership with the Challenge Tour goes beyond the Kenya Open and he was involved in bringing the tour to India for the first time in 2011, hosted by a venue with which he is heavily involved – Kensville Country Club.

“I make it a point to keep in touch with the Challenge Tour and Alain (de Soultrait, Challenge Tour Director). It’s all due to my love of golf. This is not a profession for me, it’s an honourary function.

“I took the Challenge Tour to India too, getting involved in the Kensville Challenge on the Kensville Golf and Country Club. Alain put a lot of faith in me that I would be able to deliver that tournament and we had a very good three years and hopefully we will return soon.

“We are trying to get together a group of sponsors so we can continue that event because I think there is a big place in India for a Challenge Tour event. As a result of Shiv Kapur’s win there last year, he has now made it onto The European Tour and I think he’s done very well.”

Talwar has been a hugely important figure in Challenge Tour history and this week’s tournament is not only a testament to the hard work from everyone involved this year, but also to those who have contributed to its incredible success and glorious history.


 

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