20 December 2012

Uganda: A Golf Season of No Success

The 2012 season will go down as a year when the golf fraternity did not even come within sniffing distance of international silverware.

"This year has not been good at all but I thank God that I am alive. I have been able to play on the European tour with big players, it's a great achievement. I have to work hard next year to make use of the experience I have now," Ugandan golf icon Flavia Namakula summed up her season. Indeed it has been an underachieving year for the sport as well.

Tanzania ladies dominated Uganda Open:

Namakula lost the Uganda Ladies Open to Tanzanian Engle Eaton with her compatriot Iddi Madina coming second in an event that saw seven Tanzanians in the top 10. The sight of chanting Tanzanian women as Eaton received her trophy on the 18th hole green reminded the hosts that development programmes yield such results.

Pundits would be forgiven to assume that the humiliation could have gotten worse if Kenyans had turned up for the three-day tournament at Uganda Golf Club.

Not to lose out on everything the Uganda Ladies Golf Union ensured spectators were treated to amazing fashion glitz by the largely youthful field that donned tight knee-high shorts and skirts-a sharp departure from the conservative dress code the country is accustomed to.

Phillip Kasozi claims Uganda Open

Phillip Kasozi claimed his maiden Uganda Open title in a largely local field as neighbouring countries skipped the tournament this year.

Willy Kittata who was narrowly beaten to the 2011 Uganda Open title by Rogers Byaruhanga yet again fell to a steady display by Kasozi.

The Uganda champion turned down a slot in the professional ranks that is usually accorded to the tournament winners.

Kasozi crowned a glorious season for himself by winning the MTN Mug of Mug title having accumulated the highest number of points throughout the season.

National team blues

Team Uganda again failed to wrestle the East African Challenge trophy from Kenya in the regional tournament held in Bujumbura, Burundi. Led by captain Kasozi, Uganda showed intent to reclaim the trophy they lifted in Kigali in 2010 but fell to Kenya's upsurge in form on the final day. The Ugandans had earlier on finished sixth out of 10 in the Africa Zone VI tournament in Malaawi. In 2011 they could not even raise funds to travel to Mombasa for the same tournament.

All Africa Ladies Challenge Trophy

Uganda that had in previous edition finished fifth this time round was eighth out of 20 teams that showed up in Gaborone, Botswana for the continental showpiece.

Team Uganda constituted the Uganda's finest and arguably most dedicated players in Namakula, Jasper Kamukama and Eva Magala who finished 59 shots behind dominant South Africa that retained the title.

Entebbe top:

Entebbe continued to develop its infrastructure and successfully tested their capacity during the Inter-regional Golf Championship. Western region won the tournament as Entebbe Golf Club proved they had come of age and the days of Uganda Golf Club hosting all major competitions are no more. The club which hosted the East African Challenge and Uganda Open three years ago wound up the season by unveiling a major development project that could see it emerge as the country biggest club.

Tough times for Pros

Only Deo Akope and Godfrey Mande managed fruitless outings on the Sunshine and MENA tours respectively.

The purse remained inadequate as the growing number of professional settled for crumbs in selected local tournaments where they spared some money for professional. Their woes were not helped by the sponsor halting the lucrative KCB East African Tour. Events in Arusha, Kigali and Kampala were not held instead limiting the competition to Kenya.

2013 Expectations

There is no clear indication that next season will be any better.

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