The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Golfing Numbers That Stood Out

The year was tough for Flavia Namakula by her own standards. There were a few flashes of brilliance in a couple of corporate events, MTN Mugs and when she won the Entebbe Open. But she punched way below her belt on the international scene.

As the star on Team Uganda, she was the undoing as Uganda finished eighth out of 20 nations at the All Africa Ladies Challenge Trophy in Gaborone, Botswana.

When the Uganda Ladies Open came round, she played bridesmaid to a host of Tanzanians that dominated the 59th edition en-route to recording a fourth-place finish, nine strokes off the winner Angel Eaton's pace. Namakula's only reprieve was making her maiden appearance at the season-ending European Ladies Tour when she competed in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters in early December.

So much was at stake and although she broke her duck savouring a slice of history (she was the first-ever African to play in such an elite field), it was a forgettable experience when she was forced to exit after one round - she carded an appalling 22-over-par 94. Forgettable year indeed for the affable golfer.

6

The position Uganda finished at the Africa Zone VI Golf Championship in Malawi. The team was haphazardly put together at the 11th hour and was never going to gel like a well-oiled machine. Team manager Kiryowa Kiwanuka blamed the dismal showing on the poor final kick - Uganda managed to return five points and sat in second position on Day One.

The team struggled on the final day of action, finishing with three and half points in the final singles games with an overall total score of 12.5 points to place them at sixth position in the 10-nation tournament that was won by South Africa for a record third successive time in a row. But that performance was a glimmer of hope considering that Uganda Golf Union (UGU) had failed to send a team to Mombasa for the 2011 event.

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Western region regained their place at the helm of Uganda golf when they won a record 15th Castle Lite Inter Regions Golf Tournament. Two years of no silverware had reduced Western region to a spent force with new kids on the block Buganda (2) and Eastern (2011 champions) enjoying the limelight.

But Western sent an early warning to their rivals on Day One with a team total of 1,458 nett. They wrapped it up with an aggregate of 2,934 to win by a marginal 55 strokes. Arguably the best Inter Regions ever, it did no harm to Entebbe's ever-growing profile.

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Phillip Kasozi's age. Previously an unknown quality, Kasozi came out of his shell in true fashion and silenced a couple of critics along the way. Remember he had flattered to deceive in 2011 when a certain 40-plus Rogers Byaruhanga beat him to the Uganda Open. But having been elevated to the amateur captain's role this year, Kasozi embraced his new role and united a once disjointed unit.

Having finished third at the East African Challenge Trophy in Arusha last year, Kasozi pumped up his boys and it was only a catastrophe that they fell by 3.5 points to Kenya in Bujumbura. But where the team failed, the banker did more than make up for it - he won the coveted 70th edition of the Uganda Open by three strokes.

He showed rare resilience but avoided the temptation to become a professional as is the norm for every Open winner. And as the year wound up, Kasozi put a lid on the critics' lips by winning the MTN Mug of Mugs. Perfect year for the soft-spoken bloke.

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The amount in million shillings the new international course design will cost Entebbe Golf Club (EGC) committee. The design carried out by Golf Data, a renowned South African golf course design, construction and maintenance company (African representatives of Jack Nicklaus and approved the United States Golf Association), will have a computerized irrigation system and have many exciting features.

The biggest features of the design are two water bodies with one a major hazard on the course - it covers three holes. The longest hole will be No.18 with 635 yards from the championship tee box. Upon completion, it will have a driving range, practice green and a short game practice area that will have a short fairway, green and bunkers.

The new design will also not alter Entebbe's distance as it will remain the longest course in the country. According to the plan, the new set-up is supposed to take place in two years starting January 2013. Way to go, Entebbe.

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There is a Luganda proverb loosely translated as 'water flows only where it has done so before." And that old wise saying from our ancestors can easily be related to one man - Peter Ssendawula. The former professional, who won the Uganda Amateur Open when Entebbe hosted the region's top players in 2009, heeded good counsel and made a u-turn to amateur ranks. But that is not the story here.

That Ssendwaula won the Orange-Castle Lite Mug of Mugs in September was hardly surprising. It was the way he won it that took the breath away. An albatross on the par-5 7th hole stunned the field en-route to his triumph. And that wasn't the first time Ssendawula was achieving such a substantial feat on the par-71 course. A couple of years ago, he sank a hole-in-one on the par-3 10th hole.

The national amateur team star has taken a special liking to his home course, justified by his victory in the season-ending Orange/Castle Lite Grand Mug of Mugs when he netted 67 to notch the prestigious Nkata Memorial Trophy. To put his achievements in perspective, one should note that Ssendawula plays off scratch.

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