Ugandan sergeant soldiers on in Sanlam SA Women’s Stroke Play

As a sergeant in the Ugandan army, Flavia Namakula has brought a certain military precision to the Ugandan golfers competing in this week’s Sanlam South African Women’s Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Glendower Golf Club.

The 29-year-old sets high standards as the leader of the group of four Ugandan women taking part in one of the premier tournaments in South African women’s amateur golf.

But Namakula admits it remains a challenge for them to compete on an equal footing with the South Africans.

“Normally we play this tournament every year. Last year we were unable to come, and this year we are truly humbled to be here,” she said after her opening round of 89.

“We don’t have many women golfers playing the game in Uganda. The four of us here are probably the best from our country. Our golf courses are also quite different from the courses in South Africa. There are so many challenges in Ugandan golf. Golf is obviously very expensive and we can’t always play the international tournaments we want and need to play, such as these in South Africa.”

Uganda is currently celebrating the historic victory of its men’s team in the Zone VI Africa Golf Championships, beating the favourites South Africa at the Uganda Golf Club recently.

And Namakula believes there is a revival in the game in her country, but that it depends a lot on following the South African model and gaining more competition against South African players.

“It would be great if we could get more top amateur tournaments in Uganda to develop our golfers. But with time I think the standard of Ugandan golf will improve.”

After joining the army in March 2006 as the request of her former school netball coach, Namakula was first introduced to golf that year and soon lowered her handicap to 1.

“After my A Levels I was on vacation and met my netball coach asked if I minded joining the army netball club. So I gave it some thought and said to her, ‘As long as I don’t have to pick up a gun, I’ll do it’. I joined the army in March 2006. In May of that year I was selected for the army golf team as well. I didn’t know anything about golf, and I am now a one handicap.”

Namakula has won the 2008 Kenya Ladies Open and the 2010, 2011 and 2014 Uganda Ladies Open, and has plans to turn professional next year.

“I want to get to South Africa and play the Sunshine Ladies Tour here. In Africa, this is the only place we look at for golf. Golf is developed in South Africa and there is a lot of competition here.”

Written and released by Michael Vlismas Media.

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