Thursday, July 24, 2008

West Nile Golf Club: Arua

What a joy this course is, lovely park like setting, well maintained fairways offering great lies and very friendly people. The road from MFNP to Arua is beautiful, not a single pothole and spectacular views of savanna and mountains all the way.

The challenges here are the shaggy greens (as usual), and some tight driving windows. Despite this, McTim carded a 3 over par 38, on a soggy course he had never seen before. he was well chuffed!

Once you get past the trees of the tees, the fairways are quite generous:

The club itself, started in the mid 1950's, is healthy and active, with ~120 members, of whom ~30 play. The course gets half a dozen rounds per weekday, 2 to 3 times that on weekends. Caddies are students, who are allowed to play weekends and holidays when not in school, The club got 29 sets of clubs from the R & A for the kids. I can't help but think that they can only use a few of these at a time, and that Kasese, Tororo, Lira and Mbale could use the balance of the kit for their kids.

The clubhouse is interesting in that it is part of the ground floor of the NSSF building in Arua. The club did a deal with NSSF so that they would build the building, the club gets to use part of it, and after 24 years, the ownership reverts to the club (for a hotel I gather).

The club plays a monthly mug of sorts, and have in the past hosted the Nile Open every year. There are 3 caddie tourneys every year, and former caddies pay 30k per year to join instead of 120k. All in all, the beginnings of a solid, youth/caddie program.

As in many places, the colonial era golf course is reduced in size, as the municipality that owns the land felt that too much land was given over to golf. They were probably correct, given the limited resources of most clubs to maintain 18 holes. I would rather 9 well maintained holes than 18 in an overgrown cow pasture.
The course is lush at the moment, with the tee boxes and bunkers overgrown, despite the fantastic fairways, preferred lies are in play.

A club member, Emmy gave me lots of information, and has played every course in Uganda in the year 2006 (while I am doing it in a month).

Since Arua is near the DRC and Sudan, it was a bit dodgy, but in fact, it is safe as houses, even has some first class accommodation.

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