Isaac Makokha defines himself as blessed differently playing golf across the country, East Africa and the rest of the world as the only deaf golfer in the country.
The Vet Lab-based golfer is set to represent the country for the second time in a row at the Deaflympic Games following his successful outing in 2017.
With handicap competition suspended in all clubs across the country due to coronavirus, the club still allows them to practice every day and play with friends.
“There is a gym at the golf club so I also work on physical training; gym and running for stamina build-up, though the gym has now closed because of Corona.
“My memorable time was two years ago (2017) when I played for the national team during the Victoria Cup against Uganda and that was my greatest honour. There is really no good feeling like representing your country and as I am ‘deaf’ I suppose it feels like an even bigger achievement. Most people will never get to represent their country at any sport so for me to do that when I don’t have yet I don’t have a professional coach,” he said.
The former Eldoret golf club player has golfing running in his genes with his brothers led by professional Jeff Kubwa (Muthaiga), Rueben Kubwa (Vet Lab), Charles Odhiambo (Eldoret) and Dennis Makokha of Eldoret.
Odhiambo was rewarded by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2016 after hitting the longest drive. He was given golf kits, a full set of golf bag that he has been using.
“Taking up the sport, I was motivated by my brother (Jeff) the professional player to start to play and be as good as him as he says the brothers and friends are his heroes on the course. Also, our father was an employee of Eldoret club,” said Makokha.
Now playing handicap one, Makokha trains on the course in preparations for the Deaflympic Games hoping the coronavirus pandemic will end soon to avoid postponing the Games.
“Representing the country was full of excitement. To be honest it was all quite overwhelming as I had not travelled abroad before. It was special to be with other athletes who have similar challenges to me as that is something I have not experienced before. I met some really lovely people from around the world and we still stay in contact, so yes, it was a brilliant experience,” he said.
With his communication skills not much he says life has changed.
“I have known many of the players and caddies for many years now and they all try to sign or mimic actions and it is always fun but we usually understand each other quite well. I have both Kenyan and International friends that I play regularly with and one of my close friends.”
The golfer has had good results locally and in 2018, introduced to Kenya team where he registered good results at the Victoria Cup but the most memorable event was at the Deaflympics.
He is considering turning professional soon, if he gets the opportunity to again play for his country at the Deaf Olympics he will jump at the chance and be there in a heartbeat. With lack of professional coaching, he has become a friend of youtube.
“I want to play professional golf and be as good as I can possible. I know that I still need some professional coaching and I hope that I can go oversea to perhaps South Africa, the USA or Spain where I know there are amazing golf schools and I see how a few weeks there can positively transform the way people play. For that I will need to be lucky with a sponsor, hoping (praying) for that to happen.”
Just like many other golfers who watch on youtube for skills, he is one of them which thousands of instructional videos that everyone else uses to train with, though well as he says it feels like a huge honour and privilege to have worn the national colours.
“Playing both at Victoria Cup and Deaflympic Games, are the event that I will never forget. I got a chance of playing with other deaf golfers from all over the world. Being the only deaf golf player in Kenya, the exposure and competition gave me a challenge of even working harder. I finished 5th overall. So far am looking forward to taking part in more competitions in the world,” he added.
He wore the national colours at the Deaflympics staged in Turkish City Samsun where he was joined by basketball teams for both men and women, track and field athletes.
However, he complained about the lack of sign language skills on golf course.
“Selecting me to represent Kenya came as a good calling for me. I have been playing in KGU events across the country among other tournaments. And both at my club and other tournaments, I have been performing very well,” said Makokha.
“We used to practice playing golf by use of sticks. We used to cut trees and hit maize cobs and wooden sticks and that is how we learnt golf and that kept us within golf cycles that is finally paying off,” added Makokha.
He has promised Kenyans and golf lovers that he will be coming home with a title. Though faced with challenges of his golf kits, that has not dampened the spirit of training.
Despite enjoying life with his brothers, Makokha has pleaded to his bother Odhiambo who quit golf without any major reason.
“I don’t know why he quit golf for other things that we don’t know. It is not healthy for him to quit the sport that we as a family love as well as him,” said Makokha.
“Getting a prize from the president is not easy but he has decided to do the opposite. Every golfer wishes to get such recognition but all is in vain,” Makokha.