Sunday, October 28, 2012

Golf Courses of Uganda Part 7, Uganda Golf Course, Kampala

It has taken time for us to get round to visiting the golf course at Kampala. The reasons for this you can read below in the italicised text contributed by Stuart. As luck would have it, the day I accompanied Stuart was an absolutely foul day. We got to the course and the heavens opened - and continued to remain open until I gave up at the 9th hole and went off for a coffee elsewhere. At this point the sun appeared. The second time Stuart went, last Thursday, he went on his own. If you read our previous post you will see that he was 'playing truant' from the Education and Sports Sector Review, a perfectly understandable response to a quite incomprehensible situation.

I have to say the Kampala course is not the most scenic course in Uganda, though perfectly pleasant no doubt when the sun is shining, but then I judge courses by different criteria from Stuart, so we'd better move on fast to the expert analysis.

9th green
The Uganda Golf Course in Kampala is a good track, worth playing. But note that it is not value for money at a ridiculous £70 per round for visitors. You’ll be much better taking the trip to Entebbe Golf Club where you’ll pay £12.50 per round, and you’ll be out in the wide open spaces near Lake Victoria. The length of the course is 6684 yards – remarkably, exactly the same yardage as Entebbe.  

[However, I felt that despite the generous yardage and tree-lined fairways and so on, there was a cramped feel about the course. This was probably because it has been increasingly encroached on and now the supermarkets and hotels crowd so close that you never quite feel you're 'out in the open'.]

I've played the course a couple of times recently (my membership of Jinja Golf Club came through entitling me to the ridiculously cheap fee of £1.50). The course was a fair test for me (a 13 handicapper). The tees, fairways, bunkers and greens were not 'immaculate' or 'manicured', but they were in pretty good nick and, I have to say, better than those in Entebbe.

The Kampala course comprises a good range of 18 holes in 'rolling parkland' with a few steepish slopes, broad tree-lined fairways, and a burn (the Kitante Channel) that meanders throughout. Most of the holes are well-designed with the burn coming into play quite appropriately, several thought-provoking doglegs, and some well-positioned bunkers. Par is 72: four par 5s and three par 3s on the front nine, one par 5 and two par 3s on the back nine. The course plays all of its 6684 yards, but whereas Entebbe has a par 4 of 473 yards (for me unreachable in 2), Kampala’s 476 yard hole is a much more generous par 5.

1st tee

The 1st hole, a 509 yard par 5, really needs you to be in full swing right from the start. Your initial drive up a short, steepish slope should aim for the left side of the fairway. Anything right of centre will bounce down towards trees and trouble. But a good drive, followed by a good 3-wood (keep it left) and a pitch should see you to a very satisfactory par to start with. 

Putting on 1st green
The 2nd, a slightly downhill 392 yard par 4, bends round and to the right. Again, aiming left off the tee should take you down to the centre of the fairway, and a mid-iron to the left side of the green will see you roll down nicely. Two putts and we’ve started par, par. 

2nd tee
2nd fairway
Marabou storks by the 2nd green - and a car park.
[You can see from the photo below of Stuart putting on the 2nd green, what I meant about the city buildings crowding in on what was - not all that long ago - a large open wooded park, with a golf course at its heart. By the way, this is the first time we've been on a golf course which was patrolled by armed police.]

2nd green
Turning back towards the clubhouse, the 3rd is a flat, straight and straightforward 544 yard par 5. The fairway is broad enough for there to be no excuse for hitting the trees on the right or burn on the left. A straight drive, 3-wood and pitch will give you a third successive par. 

3rd fairway
The 129 yard 4th hole, stroke index 18, looks easy enough from the tee. But with the burn and bunkers circling the front apron, trees to the right and sand at the back, you need to be careful. As a 13 handicapper, I think we’d better return to reality and assume less than perfection. So I’ll be relatively happy with a four that takes me to a commendable one over par for the first four holes.

Crossing to the 4th hole, misty skyscrapers in the background.
Muddy path and muddy grass - the 4th hole.
[You can see from the photo below how close you are to the road. The slope ends at the top with the pavement of the main Yusuf Lule Road, a dual carriage way flanked by modern office blocks and stores.]

[Here the non-golf-playing partner got distracted by a splendid vulture which observed the proceedings with some bemusement.]

The 5th, a 501 yard par 5 takes us away to the south boundary of the course. 

5th fairway, with marabou storks.
Approaching the 5th green
It is stroke index 6 (I would suggest SI 3 would be nearer the truth) and requires a drive that avoids the burn on the left and the trees on the right. A good drive will encourage you to go for a 3-wood carry over the burn. About 100 yards in front of the green the burn meanders round to catch the less-than-perfect  3-wood, or the duffed pitch. I’ll accept a bogey and move swiftly on to the 6th which is probably the least interesting hole. 

[The hole might have been uninteresting, but it was very wet.]

A 164 yard par 3, it’s there simply to take you up the hill to the 7th. Let’s award ourselves a par and head for the 7th tee.  A bit more testing this par 4: 414 yards slightly uphill and bending left. You need to aim for the mango tree half-way up the right-hand rough, then hit a medium-to-long iron to come down to the green from the right. A bogey is a likely outcome (and we are talking stroke index 2). 

The 539 yard par 5 8th is a well-shaped hole and not too difficult. If you tackle the severe dogleg left down the slope to the green with a drive up the right, a good 3-wood round the corner and an accurate pitch/chip, you could well be looking at birdie (but probably not me). 

Putting on the 8th green
The par 3 178 yard 9th is straightforward – for me, a nice straight 4-iron on to a large, receptive green will assure my par. So, out in a 3 over par 40 (I wish!).

The 9th hole, taken from the road above.
At 433 yards, the par 4 10th needs a good drive and a longish iron to reach the green. With trees on the right and the burn on the left, there is not a huge margin for error. Indeed, due to the length factor, we’ll assume bogey either here or at the 11th - a 220 yard par 3 with a huge green but with the burn punishing the fade/slice. 
11th hole
We’ve now come back to the clubhouse and across the main road. The 448 yard par 4 12th is stroke index 1 (very understandably). A good drive from an elevated tee down the left will be fine, but a slice will take you into that blessed burn. And if you don’t hit your long second shot to the green on the button, you’ll be in the burn that’s come round the front of the green or the “bale-out” bunker to the right of the green. Let’s take bogey and move on. We’ve only played 10, 11 and 12, and we’re already 2 over par on the inward half.

However, the par 5 13th at 476 yards should not be a problem as long as your drive carries the broad dip between tee and fairway. Thereafter, there’s plenty of room as you climb up a wide fairway to the green. At the 374 yard par 4 14th you find an inviting elevated tee encouraging you to blast the ball down the hill for an easy pitch up to the green. Still 2 over for the inward half. 

However, the 15th (par 4 410 yards) could well bite you. A severe dogleg left, your drive must soar over a large mango tree on your left and land on the fairly limited area of fairway that will give you an unimpeded (beware trees on the left) approach to the green. Bogey is likely. The par 4 16th at 406 yards (avoid main road on your right) and par 3 17th at 145 yards (avoid bunker front left) are fairly straightforward, and we’ll assume pars. 

So we are on the 18th tee on a total of 6 over par. It’s a 402 yard par 4. I’ll be happy to bag another par, and I really should with a good drive into the heart of an upsloping fairway. A good middle iron up the hill to the heart of the green avoiding bunkers to right and left sees me finish with par and a round of 78 (6 over). And well chuffed!

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you had a nice time golfing. We just got back from playing golf in Las Vegas. We have been looking for places to go out of our norm. I may have to look into Uganda to play. However, Vegas was one of the best courses I have played on in the longest time. Thanks for sharing your post!