How woman wey dey help golfers carri dia bag use am turn her family life around

Virginia Karemi Njeri


“I get one pikin, I no get any money – den one friend ask me if I fit do caddy, and dat na how I start.”

Tournament-winning caddy, Kenya Virginia Karemi Njeri, don turn her family life around wit her caddy work. She dey caddy for golf professionals and dey coach amateurs for di past eight years.

Caddy na pesin wey dey help player carry dia equipment during game and di pesin dey also give advice.

For 2017, Njeri bin caddy for di Kenya Open winner, Aaron Rai and even for di most recent event, she be one of di only three women among nearly 50 Kenyan caddies.

Di 35-year-old bin just come back to her native home afer two years at di time of Rai’s victory.

Before dat moment, life bin dey deal wit her.

“I bin dey desperate for a job,” Njeri tell BBC Sport Africa.

“Wen I come back to Kenya, nothing dey to do. I bin come from Lebanon where I bin dey work as house help.”

How she start dey work as caddy

Virginia Karemi Njeri

For di Kenya Open for 2023 Virginia Karemi Njeri na one of only three women out of 50 caddies

Her sister already na caddy for Muthaiga Golf Club – na one Kenya ogbonge member recommend Njeri, wey be mama of three now, for di job interview.

She impress dem and one senior member help her understand golf and di golf course.

E take plenty hours, but she bin dey patient and persistent.

“When I come di golf course, I bin dey bored,” Njeri tok. “You go sit there for hours, without a client and then, when you waka di golf course, e go be like say, ‘now, I like golf’.

“I bin come Muthaiga wit di hope of getting a job or a client. If you get one you go happy. If you no get, e mean say you no get luck dat day – you go try di next day.

“You gatz hustle to make a living as you dey new for di area, you no sabi who dey play or who no dey play. Pipo wey know go don run go collect dia golf bag.

“So e dey take long time before you get someone to work for.”

Di oda problem na say golfers bin dey doubt Njeri say she be caddy sake of how pipo bin reason say she no sabi anytin about golf. Trust issue and di fact say she be woman na one of di challenges she bin get wen she just start di work newly.

Eight years on from her hardest times, Virginia still dey on di fairways and greens wit di men as a full-time caddy, carrying a golf bag, wey weigh between 20 to 25 kgs.

“E dey heavy but you need your daily bread. So you gatz sacrifice yourself. Na good job, but still na tiring job.

“Caddying dey pay. E don help me in a lot of things. Financially I use am to support my family, my mum, my kids, and everything I do I get di money from di caddying activity.”

On a normal day, she fit get two or three clients, depending on dia schedule.

However, during di Kenya Open – one European Tour event – she work wit only one professional golfer and she don become role-model for her kontri.

“As she work and progress, she bin manage to work for di Kenya Open golf tournament wey hold for Muthaiga for 2017 and she bin dey wit di winner Mr Aaron Rai from England,” Peter Mwangi Mbatia, di coordinator for Kenya National Caddies Association tell BBC Sport Africa.

Afta she caddy for Rai, Virginia na one of di two caddies dem select for job training for South Africa. And she use dat training instruct odas wey get interest for golf.

How she break barriers

Virginia Karemi Njeri

Kenya Virginia Karemi Njeribin train for South Africa to coach golf as well as caddy for di professionals

Full time caddying for women na still a developing concept for di male dominated world of golf.

Kenya, however, dey make headway on di female caddying front. 2,000 female caddies na im dey work for various golf courses for club level and all golf clubs bar one get females caddies.

Female caddying for Kenya start for 2007 for Leisure Lodge Golf Club and Great Rift Valley Lodge.

“Di boards of these clubs find am necessary to absorb ladies to dey trained as golfers to replace di old Kenyan ladies team. Many of di oda clubs bin follow suit and di ladies come in handy wen dem stay to work as caddies,” Mbatia tok.

E add say Caddies Association no get any programmes dem tailor towards di recruitment of female caddies. Dem rely on replacements for clubs if dem need more caddies.

Apart from to dey carry player bag, a caddy dey give di player advice and moral support. Simply put – to be caddie pass to be bag carrier. He or she must sabi di basics of golf, according to Njeri.

“My work na to get di golf bag, help am wit anything e wan know on di course – maybe distance, maybe di fall of di green, maybe di wind.

“Plenty things dey but di most important na to get idea of everything wey relate to golf,,” Njeri tok.

Di benefits of being a caddy pass di financial reward for Njeri though.

E don open way for new life plus new found confidence.

“E bin dey difficult for me to interact wit people before but sake of caddying, I fit interact wit different pipo for different positions,” she add.

“To dey on di golf course na good thing, I feel relaxed. Na good office.

“Being on di golf course na di best thing.”