The Royal Nairobi Golf Club is the oldest golf society in Kenya, founded in 1906. The original 9-hole course with sand greens was expanded to a fully grassed 18 holes in the 1920s. Wild animals roamed the course in the early days and a marauding leopard was shot on the course in 1919.
The club was originally established as a recreational amenity for officers in the King’s African Rifles, which preceded the Kenyan Army, and it was actually the third golf club founded in British East Africa (as Kenya was formerly called). It’s now the oldest remaining club because the other two – formed in 1902 and 1905 – no longer exist.
A third nine was added to the original course in 1954 and this circuit remained in use until 1971, when the land was sold back to the municipal authorities for housing development. A fairway irrigation system was installed the following year then all the greens were re-laid in 1984. Catering for the alternative sporting needs of its 1,500 members, the club now offers the use of a swimming pool, squash courts, running track and gymnasium.
Today, the golf course layout extends to just over 7,000 yards from the back markers. The relatively flat front nine brings water into play between the 2nd and 3rd holes whilst, on the inward half, the back to back par fives on holes 14 and 15 play considerably tougher than their modest stroke indices might suggest. A substantial new water hazard was installed on the par four 10th hole in 2015, giving many golfers cause for concern as they tee off at the start of the back nine.