KAMPALA. When Flavia Namakula chose to switch to the paid ranks in late 2016, the golf fraternity in Uganda, especially the ladies’ section, was left with questions.
The sport’s poster girl would no longer chase Alice Kego’s record 12 Uganda Ladies Open titles. Namakula bowed out of the amateur ranks with four titles.
And therein lied the question; who would be the next star for women’s golf in Uganda? The fraternity asked quietly whereas the bookmakers were louder.
Two years later, there is a change of tide. Ladies’ golf now speaks in volumes beyond the frame of an individual player.
Now that also plays firmly into the hands of an anticipated 68th Castle Lite Uganda Ladies Open which tees-off at the par-71 course at Entebbe Club tomorrow.
The gap has been covered by a sudden rise of tournaments for ladies. Since 2017, the Uganda Ladies Golf Union (ULGU) greatly embraces invites to other tournaments.
Last year, the Nigerian ladies paid back the faith by coming for the 67th Open won by Tanzanian Angel Eaton at the par-72 course at Uganda Golf Club in Kitante.
“Featuring in tournaments abroad is a sign of oneness,” ULGU president Eva Magala told Daily Monitor.
At the start of last week, Uganda’s 13-man contingent returned from Ghana where three (Magala, captain Irene Nakalembe and Martha Babirye) featured in the All Africa Challenge Trophy (AACT).
Then the rest of the team took part in the Ghana Ladies Open that ensued where Nakalembe finished runner-up at the Achimota Golf Course in Accra.
Magala now expects some Ghanaians, Nigerians, Tanzanians and Kenyans to spice up the field in Entebbe beginning with the official practice round today.
And that case of familiarity puts the hosts’ players in a perfect line before the swinging and putting takes centerstage tomorrow.
The growth of local events here has equally played a key role in shaping talent and competition in the ladies’ section.
A case in point is the inaugural UGC Ladies Open won by Nakalembe before they headed to Accra.
Others players like Peace Kabasweka, Babirye, Sheila Kesiime and Bridget Basiima have hardly left the podiums at the prize giving ceremonies.
And one can only forget the experience of Magala, Nakalembe and Gloria Mbaguta among others, at one’s own peril.
Nakalembe, who won Entebbe Ladies Open in March, is eyeing her first Open title after second-place finishes to Namakula and Eaton in 2016 and 2017.
Going For Fourth. Only one former winner in Angel Eaton with three titles is likely to take part in this Open with the rest hoping to script their names into history books for the first time.
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)
68th CASTLE LITE UGANDA LADIES OPEN
Today: Official Practice Round
Sept 12: Official Tee Off, 3PM
Sept. 13: Ladies Open - Round 1
Sept 14: Ladies Open - Round 2
Sept 15: Ladies Open - Round 3