Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Golf courses of Uganda Part 6: Palm Valley Golf and Country Club

As you've probably gathered by now, if you’ve been following our golfing posts, almost all the courses we've visited so far have their origins in colonial times. The club houses have parquet floors and championship boards dating back almost a century, or so they appear. Palm Valley Golf and Country Club, however, is different. You are much more likely to see a course like this in Cyprus, the south of France or, indeed, America, than in Scotland, the home of golf. Palm Valley has been developed for the new, and one hopes expanding, Ugandan tourist sector, for expatriate professionals and businessmen and well-heeled locals.

The 1st tee.
To find the course, you leave Kampala on the Entebbe Road and turn right shortly after the large modern building of the J&G Airport Hotel. You wind your way along and up the side of the hill, peep over the brow and there before you lies a half-finished and half-occupied housing development. Palm Valley is at the bottom of the hill.

Desirable housing in the distance, behind the undesirable bunker.

And is it worth it when you get there? The answer has to be a very definite ‘yes’. It has, we are reliably informed, the best greens in Uganda and even, says the owner, the best in East Africa. It also has water features and the largest bunkers we have ever seen.  Mean-spirited non-golfers like me might cavil and moan about the destruction of pristine tropical forest and swamp. Stuart, however, begs to differ. 

A view of bunkers from the first tee.

A bit of swamp they didn't drain.
Carefully does it.
So, how would a golfer describe the course? Tricky, sometimes a little too tricky, with possibly just too many ditches and artificial ponds.  To start the course, with a 468 yard par 4 (stroke index 1), a ditch on the right and a pond in the middle is a harder start than the 1st at Royal St George’s. The 2nd a 221 yard par 3 doesn’t exactly give you relief, with ditch on the right and a pond in front of the green.  However, the course does reward straight hitting and the greens are superb – smooth, quite pacey and holding.  It is actually an enjoyable nine holes but just play conservative golf and keep the ball on the fairway.

In the rough, but fortunately not in the pond.
A long drive down the 1st fairway, Godfrey keeping a good eye out.
That should do it...
And for the non-golf playing partner?  A very pleasant walk, though not yet as scenic as the flower-covered slopes of Lugasi. The course has some attractive swamp areas and, fortunately, a few of the original trees are still dotted around.  You can gain considerable amusement from your partner’s frustration at losing yet another ball in the water.  His/her efforts to extricate him/herself from the ubiquitous sand are equally entertaining.  Having arrived with three brand new balls, Stuart lost four in the course of the first nine holes, and six altogether. (Shh… I wasn't supposed to say that.) The attractive restaurant and bar area make for pleasant waiting and the sandwiches are excellent. Once the remaining nine holes are completed there will also be a brand new clubhouse to look forward to.

Quite a pleasant walk...
Well, at least some of the land is put to good use!
So, a challenging outing for the golfer. If as the non-golfer you get tired of traipsing behind, just persuade your companion to drop you off at the sumptuous Serena Lake Victoria Hotel on the way.  Its magnificent pool, well-equipped gym and excellent food will give you plenty to occupy yourself with as your partner’s stress levels reach hitherto unimaginable heights.

This should do it.

Or, perhaps this.

Or this.  Well, perhaps not.


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  2. Dear Stuart and Elizabeth, hope you are well! Just doing some Google research for a guide for new expatriates, search term “Uganda golf courses” and find not one but three of your posts! Tx for the info. All the best

  3. Great to hear from you, Chapter. Glad the blog is still of use and interest!