In this week’s Player Blog presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Greg Snow talks about the difficulties of trying to be a professional golfer, and how golf in Kenya has changed for the better
Golf in Kenya is heading in the right direction. When I was growing up there wasn’t even a junior golf section, but now the government and federations are putting in money and the game is attracting a lot of kids. You used to have only five or six turn up to junior golf camps, but now there will be anywhere from 30 to 60. I hope I’ve been a bit of an inspiration to some of those younger kids, because I think there’s a lot more talent to be found here in Africa.
I started playing when I was six with a little set of La Jolla clubs, and every Sunday morning I would golf with my dad and brother. I wasn’t allowed to play from the men’s tees with them and they would play with my uncles, but I used to enjoy it because I’d play behind them with a caddie, who would give me incentives like hitting the green for a chocolate. I remember the day I started playing from the men’s tees was when I really started to love golf.
My dad is British, so I used to come to the UK during the summers to play. I actually played football for Arsenal under-13s before choosing to focus on golf, and then I started playing in a lot of county events in Kent. By the time I was 16 I began taking it more seriously and started to come over earlier than summer to play events, which really improved my golf game. I think I won about six Junior Opens in one year and finished second in the Order of Merit so it really boosted my confidence.
I spent two years in the UK playing lots of amateur events before going to America on a golf scholarship. The scouts had told me that if I could prove that I could compete at that level with the guys in the UK they might consider me, and I ended up going to Odessa College for three years. My roommate was Abraham Ancer. I was one year ahead of him, but we lived in the same dorm, won the state and regional championship together, and played as number one and two for our college team. We’ve gone in very different directions since, but I couldn’t be more proud of what he’s done.
It was very, very hard for me when I first went out on Tour. I got seven starts through finishing inside the top ten at the Kenya Open when it was a Challenge Tour event, but I didn’t feel comfortable out there. It was really hard travelling around as a Kenyan and not knowing anyone, and I was eating by myself, playing practice rounds by myself and rooming by myself. During a practice round I’d be thinking about how I was going to get back to where I’m staying, which was sometimes in the middle of nowhere with no trains or local buses. I felt really left out.
It was easier for me when I’d be at the same events with Dylan Frittelli because we played junior golf events together so I’d room with him, but it was still very difficult travelling from country to country when you don’t speak the languages. I didn’t expect life on Tour to be like that.
I didn’t get a card on the Challenge Tour so went to play some events on the Sunshine Tour, but it was hard because I didn’t have a sponsor. I ended up deciding I’d have to get a job for a couple of years to put some money together and then try to get back in to it again. I just didn’t have the money for me to do what I wanted. It was a difficult time, and one of my best friends did me a big favour and gave me a job in his company.
Snowdrops in Kenya ❄️— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) March 14, 2019
Greg Snow with a huge par save in front of his home crowd. pic.twitter.com/07p64WPK3V
Things changed for me when I heard about the Safari Tour in 2017, and I decided to try really hard to get a sponsor and start building my game up again. Now I have several sponsors who support me, so I can focus on my golf game without having to worry about money, whereas before I’d always be thinking I need to finish in this position to get my money back, or how I’d break even if I missed the cut.
The Safari Tour has given me something to play for again. It was hard to have drive when you only have one tournament a year, and you wonder why you’re practicing if you’ve got nothing to play for, and no sponsors. But now we play 16 weeks of the year, travelling is easier because I know so many people, and it’s really helped with my golf. It’s the first time we’ve had anything like this in Kenya, and I honestly can’t thank the Kenyan Open Golf Federation enough for what they’ve done for us.
I won the Order of Merit in 2019 and won five tournaments this season which was great, but a win at the Kenya Open would be like winning a major. It means so much to me. I would love to qualify for a major – I came close at qualifying at Walton Heath two years ago – but a win in Kenya would be bigger.
I won the last event of the season two weeks ago, and it was probably the toughest tournament I’ve ever played. It was our Tour Championship and the field was the highest quality it had been all season, the money was bigger, and there were performance benefits with my sponsor if I played well. It was a really big week for me, so winning was a great confidence booster because I played some really good golf.
Muthaiga Golf Club’s Greg Snow shot an impressive round of 68 on the last day of the final leg of the 2019/2020 season of the Safari Golf Tour Series at the Karen Country Club to emerge winner of the tournament with a total score of 4-under par 280. pic.twitter.com/AwYdL6lJv7— The Safari Tour (@SafariTourKe) February 26, 2020
I have big aspirations for the future. My plan for the next two years is to earn a card on the European Tour, or at least a Challenge Tour card. I’m more mature now, and I really want to step up from the Safari Tour and get a card somewhere that allows me in to every event where I can pick and choose my schedule. That would be my goal, to be on a Tour like that, to be able to pick the tournaments I want.
I’m putting the hours in at the gym, I found a new nutritionist, I’m putting in the hours practicing, so my game is at the level where I’m ready to compete with the guys on the Challenge Tour and European Tour. Now that I have a sponsor, I don’t why there’s any reason I can’t achieve that goal.
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