Professionals rue prolonged lockdown

Monday May 11 2020

Rookie pro Ainamani Abraham is one of the many

Rookie pro Ainamani Abraham is one of the many professional golfers that would like the lockdown to end. PHOTO BY EDDIE CHICCO 

By DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE

Professional golfers in Uganda may have sustained the initial lockdown period but the recent two-week extension by President Yoweri Museveni could burst their bubble.

These men under the Uganda Professional Golfers Association (UPGA) are beginning to crack down financially because there are no tournaments to play any soon.

“It is not easy at all,” UPGA captain Deo Akope told this paper.

A pro golfer solely earns from the game of swing and during their tournaments, a money purse is shared by those that make the cut.

And with golf courses closed after sports in Uganda was suspended on March 18, their livelihoods are at a threat.

“I have been depending on my savings but things have become harder,” said Becca Mwanja, a former national team captain.

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“As professional golfers we make money through playing (competitions), teaching golf and working for the clubs we are attached to,” Akope narrated.

“Now courses are closed, meaning we can’t do any of the above. With no certainty of when this will normalise, it just worries all of us on how we shall survive.”

Between mid-March and now, pro golfers were meant to play for kitties at Uganda Golf Club’s Lady Captain’s Prize and the Captain’s Prize events.

They too had to tee-off their quest for glory at the Entebbe Singleton Challenge among other events in neighbouring countries.

Real hard times
Difficult times indeed. On a normal day, a pro golfer may conduct a golf clinic in the morning, teach a handicapped club member before doing his her own round on the course.

Pro golfers dedicate more time to the game and with restrictions have relegated most to the confines of their homes. “I took up a movie hobby,” says Phillip Kasozi, who was meant to feature at the PGA European Tour via the Kenya Open in March but the event was called off.

Kasozi, who was Uganda’s best player on the regional 2019-2020 Safari Tour Series, argues that the effect of the pandemic, has hit pro golfers more than any other sports discipline.

“We are hit hard. And for your information, we started early, before end of February when events internationally were called off. So we have been under lockdown for over 60 days.”

One would argue that golf is a well-off-to-do sport and Daily Monitor understands UPGA, which brings together 45 members, has a resource pool. What is not right? “There is nothing we can do until the lockdown is uplifted, we are all lockdowned at our homes. No one can move, so how do you even do anything?” Akope pondered.

“UPGA cannot do much, all the savings were borrowed by the members thinking it’s going to be 14 days,” Kasozi notes otherwise.

So how are golfers pulling through? “Surviving, the beauty is that in Uganda you can learn on how to survive on a US dollar a day depending on your location,” says Kasozi.

“Food prices vary but we have nothing left yet our game is the only one that practices the best social distancing ever. Everyone has their kit, tees and balls. And this has been realised in sport in other countries and resume golf,” he adds.

And by the look of things, sport could still wait a little longer before it resumes in the country.

ABOUT PRO GOLFERS
Body: Uganda Professional Golfers
Association (UPGA)
Inception: 2006
Membership: 45 members
Chairman: Sadi Atibu
Captain: Deo Akope
Major Event: Uganda Pros Open
Purse: $50,000 (About Shs189m)
Main Series: Safari Tour

dkyeyune@ug.nationmedia.com

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