What you need to know:
- That damage to the game of swing fuelled by the coronavirus inevitably pushed many amateur and professional players to compete in tournaments elsewhere.
Uganda Golf Union (UGU) and its partner clubs across the country could have lost about 90 per cent of time and activity in the aftermath of the lockdown in June.
That damage to the game of swing fuelled by the coronavirus inevitably pushed many amateur and professional players to compete in tournaments elsewhere.
Case in point, Irene Nakalembe won the Tanzania Ladies Open and the Ikoyi Ladies Open in Nigeria which set her up to end an eight-year wait and lift the Uganda Ladies Open at Entebbe on Saturday.
Last month too, about eight pros were led by Deo Akope who stunned the Kenyans to win the Nyali leg of the regional Safari Tour Golf Series.
During the same period, a group of amateurs competed at the 31st Kenya Amateur Stroke-play Championship in Nakuru. This was won by Adel Balala and Joseph Cwinyaai was Uganda's best player in the sixth, later ruing lack of enough activity.
So ahead of the 80th Tusker Malt Uganda Open which tees-off at the par-71 Entebbe course tomorrow, UGU set up a camp for the country’s top amateur players.
“We understand that for one to compete favourably, they need competition and proper knowledge and time on course,” noted UGU president Moses Matsiko.
“The fraternity has missed out on staging several tournaments at different clubs this year and so for the top amateurs, we’ve facilitated them with a camp at Entebbe to fine-tune their preparations.”
Three of those players competed in the Ladies Open which was won by Nakalembe and seven others including top seed Joseph Cwinyaai, James Koto and Ibrahim Bagalana will have spent 10 days in Entebbe before teeing off tomorrow.
“We believe this will put them in a better position to challenge the strong field from Kenya for the Open title,” Matsiko stated.
Ibrahim Aliga, Joseph Kasozi, Godfrey Nsubuga and Samuel Kato are the other players in camp under the guise of national coach Ronnie ‘King’ Bukenya.
The previous two editions of the Amateur Open have been won by Kenyans; Daniel Nduva at the Lake Victoria Serena Resort in Kigo in 2019 and John Lejirma at Kitante last year.
Lejirma, who was ‘silent’ before devouring the Kitante pressure group comprising Ugandans Michael Alunga, pre-tournament favourite Cwinyaai and Christopher Baguma, is enjoying a purple patch.
The Nakuru-bred star won the Railways Invitational at his home club at the weekend but Kenya number one Balala will be another to watch.
Ronald Otile is the last Ugandan to win this Open, when he came from six strokes behind leader Kenyan John Karichu to grab a third title at Entebbe in 2018.
2021 UGANDA GOLF OPEN
Dates: November 18 - December 4
Venue: Entebbe Golf Course
Location: Entebbe, Wakiso
Pros’ kitty: Shs100m
Expected field: 400 players
Platinum Sponsor: Tusker Malt (Shs300m)
Gold Sponsor: Absa (Shs96m)
Bronze Sponsors: Abubaker Tech, Britam Insurance, NTV, Pepsi, Pinnacle Security, Case Med Care, Egis, National Council of Sports, Uganda Tourism Board, Liquid Telecom
Nov 18-20: Ladies Open
Nov 19-20: Seniors Open
Nov 24: Par-3 Contest
Nov 24-27: Amateur Open
Nov 30: Pro-Am
Nov 30 - Dec 4: Professional Open
Dec 4: President’s Open
UGANDA’S TOP RANKED AMATEURS: Joseph Cwinyaai, James Koto, Ibrahim Bagalana, Ibrahim Aliga, Joseph Kasozi, Godfrey Nsubuga, Samuel Kato
CAST OF PAST AMATEUR OPEN WINNERS
2020: John Lejirma (KEN)
2019: Daniel Nduva (KEN)
2018: Ronald Otile (UGA)
2017: Ronald Rugumayo (UGA)
2016: Ronald Otile (UGA)
2015: Ronald Otile (UGA)
2014: Deus Kitata (UGA)
2013: Peter Ssendawula (UGA)
2012: Phillip Kasozi (UGA)
2011: Rogers Byaruhanga (UGA)
2010: Brian Mwesigwa (UGA)
2009: Peter Ssendawula (UGA)
2008: George Olayo (UGA)
2007: Nicholas Rokoine (KEN)
2006: Amos Kamya (UGA)
2005: Charles Yokwe (UGA)