Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Toro Club, Fort Portal

The Toro Club

A lovely course in Fort Portal, built in 1914, the Toro or (Toor) Club is a little gem. Mature trees, OB in the middle of the course, and pot bunkers are the dangers here.

It's a very nice place to play, so much so that it is the first "9 holes that you play twice course" where I actually played all 18.

It's an active, friendly club (~130 members) that hosts several tourneys per year, plus a monthly mug. Sunday is Club Nite and it can be a very busy place on weekends (for drinking, not so much for golf). Green fees are 2k per 9, with a 5k Visitor's fee, but if you are with a member, this fee is only 1k. To join costs 670k, with 10k per month membership fees. Some of the holes have dual fairways, and generally, players further into their round have right of way. It's a fairly hilly course, so one gets lots of hilly lies, but it's pretty well maintained. However, like most courses in UG, the greens are bumpy and not cut/rolled often in the dry season.

I think there are at least 2 signature holes here, the first is the 3rd/12th. While the 12th is a straightaway look downhill to a chute of trees leading to a small green, the 3rd is a dogleg right on same fairway where the first shot is blind downhill to a narrowing landing area with rough and swamp to catch short and right tee shots, and trees that will block yoour second if you go left. O long drive left or str8 will leave yoou a chip n putt for birdie. A classic Risk/Reward hole.

Heres is the layout:

The other signature hole, or at least one that is very pretty is the sweeping 4th/13th which shares part of it's fairway with the 7th/16th holes. It's not a particularly difficult set of holes, except for approach shots, but the shared, bunkered fairways are lovely.

A blind par 3 with cows and a rock in the middle of a pot bunker:

This club has the biggest, baddest pot bunker I have ever seen on 8/17. It's got a bout a 12 foot lip, and the surface area is HUGE. Do NOT go left on this hole, as Billy found, it may take more than one shot to escape this jail:

A unique program at the Toro Club is blogged about at "Team Ndali". The Uganda Golf Initiative aims to build a non-profit charitable organization, and plans on "raising money to cover the high school tuition fees for caddies to finish high-school, to help them qualify for scholarships to American universities." Initially Daniel Frommer has brought golf kit for the caddies at Toro, and aims to spread the program to other courses in UG and East Africa.

I saw this before the Quest began, and have volunteered to help out, so as part of the Quest, I am asking questions of the caddies, and finding out if they get any support from their clubs, etc.

I played the back nine alone on Monday, then after recovering from a long, late, liquid lunch at Ndali Lodge , I joined Luke, Simon, and Matt:

and Aubrey, Billy and Andy for the front nine on the Wednesday:

This round was helped by some peculiar local rules and the presence of beer caddies, arranged by Aubrey, I shot a 38 on the front side, as oppsed to a 46 on the back. We played 18 into the setting sun as a 7some (would have been 8, but Steve had a fever). This hole was the most enjoyable of UG Golf Quest 2008.

Next, side trips to a new lodge being built and lunch at Ndali.

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