In a global search it would be hard to find a better setting for a game of golf than Uganda. Picture-perfect weather, plenty of water to keep the courses lush and green and a gorgeous backdrop all make for an ideal afternoon on the fairways. It is therefore not surprising that there are a number of golf courses throughout the country but it is surprising that so few people know about them. Golfing could possibly be Uganda’s best kept secret.
Until now. If you’re a golf fanatic, or just have a passing interest, read on to find out where you can get your next ‘golf fix’ in Uganda. Or, consider a golf tour around the country to hit them all!
The Uganda Golf Club is also known as, ‘the Kampala course’ and Kitante, after the stream that runs through it meaning, in Lugandan, ‘where the cows die’. This former bog has been turned into golf course that runs right through the middle of town and is probably the most well-known course in Uganda. The course has 18 holes, a driving range and members pay an annual fee. Membership is by invitation or proposal with membership support. A round of golf costs 50,000 UGX if a guest of a member or 200,000 UGX for the public. If you’re staying at the Sheraton, Serena, Hotel Africana or Golf Course Hotel then you can golf for member’s rates. Wednesdays and Thursdays tend to be very busy with Wednesday being Club Night and Thursday being Ladies Night. MTN sponsors a Monthly Mug Tournament on the last Saturday of each month and the course also plays host to both the Uganda Open in September and the Ladies Open in October each year. Kids can also join in the fun with a junior program that runs during school holidays. Find out more by visiting: www.ugandagolfclub.com
The Sheraton Hotel, believe it or not, has a 9 hole small course right in downtown that is perfect for just puttering around or for beginners. It is not always set up but you just need to call the hotel (+256 414 420 000) and they’d be happy to set things up for you.
If you want to get out of Kampala for a half, or full, day then there are a couple of options within an hour or two’s drive of Kampala. These are:
Palm Valley Golf & Country Club, (pictured above) has a 9 hole course with 18 tee boxes. This new course if approximately 20km south of Kampala on the Kampala-Entebbe Road near the Akright Estates. The greens are excellent with bent grass which makes it an extremely pleasant to play while the fairways are rougher. There is also a nice club house with a restaurant and bar overlooking the course. The course is privately owned and games are 60,000 UGX. For more information visit: http://www.palmvalleygolf.co.ug/
The Entebbe Golf Club is an 18 hole course approximately 40km from Kampala just outside Entebbe town. It is the oldest golf course in Uganda and has a much smaller membership and is far less busy than other clubs – except on competition days. The course has a reciprocal relationship with the Kampala course so members play at each for the same fees. Play is made more exciting as parts of the course border the Uganda Wildlife Centre and play over certain holes go over the corner of the rhino enclosure and lions and monkeys are frequently heard. To book call: +256 4143-22067
Mehta Golf Club is one of the most beautiful golf courses in the country sitting in the midst of the Lugazi sugar and tea plantations. To find this privately owned course drive 45km toward Jinja and expect good game value with each only costing 15,000 UGX. There are 14 holes with 18 tee boxes as well as a nice clubhouse and new conference facility. They also offer a B&B deal where players can stay overnight and play two days for 80,000 UGX.
The Jinja Golf Club is another older course dating to the early 20th century. This is a 16 hole course with two holes sharing a tee box to make it 18. The club also boasts a large swimming pool and is a parkland course with lots of expansive views over neighbouring fields. Cost is 10,000 UGX a round and they also share a reciprocal agreement with the Kampala club. The view from the 17th tee deserves special mention as you can look down over the source of the Nile’s rushing water.
The Mary Louise Simkins Memorial Golf Course is also within a days reach being located approximately 35 km north of Kampala in Namulonge on the grounds of an Agriculture Research Centre. This course is very basic but still fun dating back to the 1920’s as well. The clubhouse has now been converted into the government research centre.
Going further afield there is:
The Toro Golf Club in Fort Portal has 9 holes with 18 tee boxes and is set in a beautiful valley and is tricky to play. You should come prepared to part with a fair number of golf balls. There is also a nice terrace which is basic but welcoming for an after-game tea or drink.
The Kilembe Mines Golf Club in Kasese has 9 holes and is built on the grounds of an old mine. For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Kabale Golf Club is also known as the Makanga Golf Course and it might require a 6 hour trek down to this little 9 hole gem but those who do swear that it is worth the effort. It’s also pretty well placed for tourists who might be going to Lake Bunyonyi or further to see the gorillas.
The Kinyara Golf Club is a 9 hole club in Masindi which is owned by the Kinyara sugar plantation. Each year they hold their own Open and have a good amount of facilities to enjoy other than golf.
The Lira Golf Club apparently still exists – but just barely. Also a 9 hole course it is in need of repair but anyone who is not put off by a little rough should enjoy it for the experience.
The Mbarara Golf Club, again, a 9 holer in need of a bit of repair. A round is only 5,000 UGX and guests are welcome to both golf and enjoy the clubhouse.
The Tororo Golf Club has 9 holes and joins the above in the needing repair department. However, no golf tour of Uganda would be complete without stopping her.e
The West Nile Golf Club in Arua gets mixed reviews as an 18 hole course. It has its die-hard fans and those who feel it needs a bit of a facelift.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just picking up the sport some tips for playing in Uganda are:
1) remember that there are limited pro shops so you’ll need to stock up out of country or at Game in Kampala;
2) take a lesson – the pros at the Kampala courses can help you excel at very affordable rates;
3) if you’re visiting the country some courses have golf clubs that can be rented in a pinch. Call ahead to find out.