On over 100 hectares of land, sit the picturesque Mehta Golf Course, just on the fringes of the ever lively Lugazi town, along the Jinja Highway.
The 70 par hilly course itself dates as far back as the colonial days with a great design of 15 holes punctuated by a few bunkers and hazards here and there.
It could be miles off the Central Business District of the Capital, Kampala, but the Mehta course is a beehive of activity week in, week out.
Not so many golf clubs in the country will boost of junior academies, specifically planned for grooming the budding talents.
With programmes for junior golfers already running at Uganda Golf and Entebbe clubs, a similar arrangement has been moving on at Mehta Golf Academy.
Evolution of the Academy:
Started from scratches just 3 years ago, the Mehta Junior Golf Academy owes its birth to a United Kingdom based Professional, Mark Griffiths, of Maidenhead Golf Club, Beltershire, 40 miles outside London.
Back then, in 2011, Jay Mehta (Son to Mahendrah Najibai Mehta Senior), a director in the SCOUL of the Mehta group of companies invited the Golf Professional, Mark Griffiths to fine tune golfing skills of the Mehta family members.
Luckily the local community members were assimilated into the programme and only 5 young golfers were part of the initial arrangement.
The 5 fortunate ones are, Edwin Okong, Joel Basalariwa, Robert Muhema, Nasser Kinene and Joshua Ssenabulya.
As you read this, all those promising young prospects energized the golf sessions and have attained Club memberships which respectable handicaps ranging from 5 – 10.
“The boys picked interest and were committed learners, so I took them on”, Griffiths told Kawowo Sports.
Rise and Growth:
From 5, the academy now boosts of 38 young golfers – both girls and boys. “We have a happy lot of young golfers who are always willing to learn”, Ronnie King ‘Rasta’ Bukenya, a local based golfer says.
Bukenya is one of the trainers alongside Walter Debbo, Clovis Kasagaki and Dennis Kalungi among others who handle the players during weekends (school days) and in holidays (school recess).
“Basically, Mark (Griffiths) is available only twice a year. So we manage the academy daily programmes at the Club. Every time, he is available, we are always glad to work alongside him as he passes on the vast golf knowledge” Walter Debbo adds.
The Mehta Junior Golf Academy has benefited from Griffith’s generosity.
Every time he makes the trip to Africa, he carries along with him various equipment ranging from kits, clubs, balls, golf tutorials, literature to other golfing gear.
At the moment, there are 9 junior golf bags at the Academy on top of the 14 sets Mehta recently procured.
Besides learning the A B C of golf with elementary lessons from the golfer pro himself and the trainers available, many young golfers have earned the chance to take on the game with possible targets of being Professional in the tomorrow years.
“We play indoor competitions which have helped us gain handicaps and start playing golf”, Edwin Okong (Handicap 5), who also played in the prestigious Uganda Open last year.
Majority have gained educational bursaries at the nearby Lugazi East &West primary and Mehta s.s schools.
“I am happy to play in the Mehta Golf Academy because I meet so many friends who are excited to be with me”, Juma ‘Khartoum’ Abiti, 10, the youngest member of all says.
Like all formal groups, the Mehta golf Academy faces a few hardships. ”Equipment for the young golfers is still wanting. The numbers are swelling so they have to share the junior kit”, Debbo explains.
Debbo also appeals to the Uganda Golf Union to spread the junior programmes to Mehta Club.
Academy Future Aspirations:
Mark Griffiths, the Academy patron has a lot in stock for the young boys and girls.
“We shall continue to grow bigger and bigger as more kids join the bandwagon. We plan for a full time golf academy and have exchange programmes for the children”, the Pro speaks of the future plan for the academy.
More in house competitions are also lined up with a few prizes for the excelling lot.
Also, special sessions targeted at empowering the youngsters with various life skills have also been planned.
“I plan to engage Ugandan golf professionals to come and share their skills with the young golfers”, the 46 year who also runs a golf academy at the Maiden Golf Center adds.
Success Mehta Golf Academy.