Kampala. At the core of every change initiative, there is the desire to breathe new life into the organization.
So if Innocent Kihika’s presence was yet to be felt ever since becoming Uganda Golf Union (UGU) president in March, then the 2018 edition of the Uganda Golf Open will perhaps vindicate him.
Right from its launch on Saturday, it is totally a new script for country’s flagship golf showpiece.
The Uganda Golf Open will be red thanks to new anchor sponsor American beer brand Budweiser and it will be played at the par-71 lakeside course in Entebbe for the first time in six years.
“Normally, the launch is done by a press conference with journalists seated in a classroom setting with a sponsor and a dummy cheque,” Kihika dressed in all-red said as the launch began at about 9.03pm at Entebbe.
“But we thought we could have a party. When the idea came up, I asked the sponsor to have it at their agency they work with and they said no. The Open is in Entebbe and we are here,” he said to the reception of a thunderous clap.
Dubbed as the ‘King of Beers’, Budweiser was only launched in Uganda eight days ago and ‘His Majesty’ has offered Shs400m sponsorship to the premium game of swing for the three-in-one championship that runs from September 12-29.
“We sponsor top sports events like the American Super Bowl and the Fifa World Cup which are the most viewed tournaments in the world,” Budweiser brand manager Julian Sentamu remarked at the lavish podium.
“So why not the Uganda Open? Let’s toast to the King of Beers!” she stated as bottles and glasses rose in the air amid the red audience.
Nearly all changed for the Open. After a group of dancers carried the new tournament logo to Kihika, he announced via the video wall a new online format displayed by Paul Kaheru for player registration.
“We are bringing it (the Open) down to your phone, your laptop or your desktop,” Kihika said. The 68th Ladies Amateur Open will tee-off first from September 12-15 whereas the main event - the 77th Amateurs Open will be played from September 18-22.
The 13th Professionals Open that runs September 25-29 will have a kitty of about Shs190m ($50000) courtesy of Budweiser.
“This is the biggest that Uganda Professionals Open has had,” a smiling Kihika stated before announcing other tournament sponsors Time Cop, Ernest & Young, Barclays Bank, Britam Insurance, CBA Bank, Jumia Food and Serena Hotel in video adverts.
In a new twist, there will be a nearest to the pin contest and the hole-in-one challenge on every day of the competition.
And like at the Masters at the Augusta, there will be a new Par-3 contest to launch the Amateur Open on September 18 and it is as well the only event with the longest drive contest.
The putting challenge as well as the chip and putt competition, where one has a chance to chip three balls and putt once, is restricted only to the Ladies Open.
The Pro-Am event prior to the Professionals Open has been maintained but it will be played in team format (3 Amateurs and 1 Pro). Here, only the top two amateurs and the pro’s scores considered and each birdie scored will incur donation of Shs50000 to charity.
“It will be an exciting Open,” Kihika wrapped up.
Budweiser Ug open
September 12-15: 68th Ladies Open
September 18-22: 77th Amateur Open
September 24-29: 13th ProsOpen
2017: Stephen Ferreira (POR)
2016: Joshua Seale (RSA)
2015: Muthiya Madalitso (ZAM)
2014: Deo Akope (UGA)
2013: Vincent Byamukama (UGA)
2012: Dismas Indiza (KEN)
2011: Dismas Indiza (KEN)
2010: Jean Hakizimana (RWA)
2009: Richard Ainley (KEN)
2008: Dismas Indiza (KEN)
2007: Dismas Indiza (KEN)
2017: Ronald Rugumayo (Uganda)
2016: Ronald Otile (Uganda)
2015: Ronald Otile (Uganda)
2014: Willy Deus Kitata (Uganda)
2013: Peter Ssendawula (Uganda)
2012: Phillip Kasozi (Uganda)
2011: Rogers Byaruhanga (Uganda)
2010: Brian Mwesigwa (Uganda)
2009: Peter Ssendawula (Uganda)
2008: George Olayo (Uganda)
2007: Nicholas Rokoine (Kenya)
LADIES roll of honour
2017: Angel Eaton (Tanzania)
2016: Flavia Namakula (Uganda)
2015: Flavia Namakula (Uganda)
2014: Flavia Namakula (Uganda)
2013: Angel Eaton (Tanzania)
2012: Angel Eaton (Tanzania)
2011: Flavia Namakula (Uganda)
2010: Flavia Namakula (Uganda)
2009: Jasper Kamukama (Uganda)
2008: Melissa Nawa (Zambia)
2007: Mary Karano (Kenya)
Nearest to the pin.
To be played every day of the competition.
Shall be played on all par-3 holes every day.
Only Amateur Open.
Shall only be played for the Ladies Open.
Chip & Putt competition.
Also restricted to the ladies. Chance to chip 3 balls to green and putt once