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Society

Ugandan course that is a goldmine

Lake Victoria Serena Club House
Lake Victoria Serena Club House and Course. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Since August 27, 2019, one of East Africa’s largest golf tournaments, the Uganda Open Golf Championship, has been taking place at the Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort and Spa. Situated roughly between Entebbe and Kampala, on the shores of Lake Victoria, this scenic, championship golf resort is the latest addition to East Africa’s golf courses and a fitting host to an Open championship that has continued to grow in stature.

Architects of this 18-hole par-72 course at Lake Victoria Serena took full advantage of having the water body on their door step and introduced hazards on literally each and every hole, giving the course fantastic views from the first to the last hole! The club house sits on water edge and the marina next to it allows golfers to sail their boats to the club house from, well as far as Mwanza, Kisumu or Migingo Island!

The Uganda Open is a unique and exiting tournament that includes a junior contest, ladies, amateurs and professional contests. This format makes for a three-week golf extravaganza that is a goldmine for sports news and sponsorship. The Uganda Open could very well be the longest running golf championship in the world!

The two-day Junior Open kicked off on the 27th of August and the Ladies Open from the 29th of August. Two days ago, the Amateur Open teed off and next week the Professionals will compete through 72-holes in four days; the total prize for the professionals is $50,000 with the winner taking home $11,250 (UGSh40 million).

In the junior contest, the top five girls included Acio Florence, Massette Winnie, Ngabire Victoria, Birabwa Friesta and Nambooze Milly. The top five boys included Eyoyo Rogers, Bwambale Amon, Nsubuga Godfrey, Akena Reagan and Agotre Hassan. And whilst the gross winning score for the girls and boys was 93 and 72 respectively, the Uganda Open continues to offer a brilliant opportunity for these juniors to improve their skills and aspire to play as top amateurs and eventually as top professionals. In my opinion, the junior contest at the Uganda Open is by far the most important category of competition; it represents the future of golf in East Africa. And whilst the world is not looking, the junior golf development programme in Uganda continues to produce a steady stream of ambition, determined and motivated young golfers who will one day rule the golf scene in Africa and beyond.

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The 16-year old Eyoyo, a scratch golfer and member of the dominant Mehta Golf Club, showed great skill on the challenging Serena course, carding seven birdies through his round. According to Ugandan golf pundits, Eyoyo is poised to take the amateur golf scene by storm. Other scratch golfers at Mehta include Nsubuga, Akena and Joseph Kanonera who all finished in the top-10 of the Junior Open. Still on Uganda’s junior golf scene, allow me to digress; I have been following the work of Sulait Kissande, the founder of and head coach of Sulait Kissande’s Golf as Away of learning (GaATL) community development project that has dedicated itself to introducing young under privileged kids to the game of golf. This project, which I follow keenly on Facebook, uses golf as a social tool to improve the lives of the kids in the programme - again, this is the future of golf and I hope that GaATL will continue to receive the financial support it requires to grow and reach even more children.

The Ladies Open was won by Babirye Martha, 242 gross, beating Irene Nakalembe by one stroke. The talented Angel Eaton from Tanzania finished third on a score of 245 and Hawa Wanyeche, Tanzania, was fourth with 251. The best placed Kenyan was Louisa Gitau with a gross score of 255, she finished in sixth place.

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