Friday, July 25, 2008

Lira Golf Club

To call this place a golf course is extremely generous, although once it was a colonial course, it now has 9 "holes". Where once stood a clubhouse, complete with swimming pool, there is now trees in the pool and remnants of a foundation. Apparently the club was a victim of a battle between the Obote and Okello forces, as it is adjacent to the barracks. (click on pictures for larger image)

Golf in Lira has been victimized by war and poverty as has much of Northern Uganda. There are ~30 members, some who live in Kampala, and are not active at all. CPAR built on part of the course, but the club has come to an amicable agreement with them to use part of the building as a clubhouse for events. Grazing and teaching school are other more common activities on this land these days, but golf is played, although not regularly.

My sense is that without active support from the corporate community in Lira, the course will continue to struggle. Here are shots of the first tee and green.

If you want to play, contact the Captain of the club, Okai Wilson (0782326268), an extremely helpful man, and he will arrange caddies and a tour. Mr. Wilson and others try to teach the kids, how to play and caddie, but has no kit for them to use.

Membership is 60k per year, green fees are 5k, membership is 60k per year. At the moment, members are being asked for additional donations for diesel and tractor hire. You can see why in this photo:

Thrashing is done every 3 months allegedly, but it looks like longer than that to me. Greens are temporarily sand "browns" that you don't putt on, you just add 2 and pick up your ball. The second hole has an actual hole tho, so you can putt out there.
The original greens are still there, but are barren, in need of seed, fertiliser and care.

A football stadium, complete with corrugated roofing fence has been built on a par four, so that you have to hit over (or into) the "stadium", threading the needle between the two trees. I hit a monster draw into the gap, amongst cries of "playah" and "U de Man!" from the bodaboda cyclists who formed my gallery for that hole. I was pin high in one, chipped on and picked my ball and par at the same time. This is signature golf at it's most absurd, a unique hole, to say the least.

The UN is once again feeding people in Lira, due to last year's floods, but lots o folks have bikes here, and they cost 150k each, so there is some economic activity going on. The road to Lira is shocking, all the more reason to fit two truckloads of stuff onto one truck!

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