Due to the continued lockdown in Uganda because of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) since 17th March 2020, sports, like many other sectors of the economy were hit hard.
With virtually no golf action on the decimated courses across the country, the golfers (amateurs and professionals), as well as over 700 caddies and the artisans have obviously had no business.
Caddies play a significant role for the golfers in the entire duration of the game ranging from carrying the golf kit to advising on the game management tactics.
There are about 180 caddies and artisans at Uganda Golf Club in the heart of the capital city, Kampala which accommodates arguably the largest number of these course helpers.
Entebbe Club follows suit with 80 and at least 50 caddies each are stationed at Lake Victoria Spa and Resort course – Kigo, Palm Valley – Akright Kakungulu Estate, Namulonge, Mbarara, Jinja, Mbale, Kabale, Kasese, Lira and Fort Portal.
Patrick Ochapet, a caddie who works at East Africa’s oldest golfing facility in Entebbe often caddies for Joseph Bogera.
For more than 7 weeks now, Ochapet has not been able to execute the caddying role because of the lockdown that left the lakeside golf course closed.
Life has not been easy in this period of the lockdown brought about because Coronavirus. We are not working since the golf courses were closed down.Patrick Ochapet
“Because it is a global problem, we are all hurt in a way or the other. Personally, I believe in God. For the little food I manage to get per meal, I am forever grateful” he adds.
Entebbe Club managed to come to the rescue of the caddies with Shs 50,000 package during the second week of the lockdown and an assortment of food (25 kilograms) and 2 kilograms of sugar per person.
“The food, beans and sugar plus the money provided to us by the management of Entebbe club was a great boost to us in such a time. We are humbled by this offer” Edison Onegi, head of caddies at Entebbe Club disclosed to Kawowo Sports.
Also severely hit and hurt is experienced championship winning caddie Robert Ssenteza, based at the Uganda Golf Club.
Ssenteza often works with city lawyer Anthony Katamba, Junior Kwebiha and the reigning Uganda Ladies Amateur Open champion, Martha Babirye.
“Since the courses were closed, it has been a trying moment for us caddies who earn for the work done. But as a person, I have been able to maneuver through this situation with the help of Mr Anthony Katamba, Junior Kwebiha and Miss Martha Babirye. Also, we got food and beans from the Uganda Golf Club management” Ssenteza noted.
The management of Uganda Golf Club was able to come to the rescue of the caddies with 10 kilograms of posho and 3 kilograms of beans each to every caddy.
Resty Nalutaaya, a female artisan golfer at Entebbe Club confesses this has been the most trying time since she joined the sport.
“This has been the most difficult times of golf since I joined in 2015. We are not working and therefore not earning. Besides, we are also unable to play the sport because the courses are all closed” Nalutaaya, who is handicap 22 notes.
Caddies in the countryside golf courses as Mbarara, Jinja and Kabale were also rendered jobless since the closure of the facilities.
Mbarara Club’s Innocent Muhwezi, also a promising junior golfer cries foul by the this situation.
“I earn daily by caddying on the golf course. Sadly, there has not been any golf action for now two months. This is a really tough situation” Muhwezi notes.
Depending on a given club, golf caddies are paid between Shs. 10,000 to Shs. 50,000 per round executed.
Golf, like the rest of the other sporting events in the country is expected to return at least in the first week of June 2020, dependent on the prevailing health situation at hand.
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni extended the lockdown period to 20th May 2020 as the situation is being monitored closely.
Once the situation is proved fit by the experts in the health ministry, the President is expected to relax the situation.
As of Wednesday, 6th May 2020, the Coronavirus cases in Uganda stood at 100 with 55 recoveries and no deaths.
In the entire world, 3822860 cases have been recorded, 1302891 recoveries and 265076 deaths.