Excitement and joy of golf may be enhanced by pretty birds

By Vincent Wang'ombe: Friday, September 13th 2019 at 01:30 GMT +3 | Golf
Kenya's Professional Golfer Dismas Indiza from Mumias makes a swing in a past event [PHOTO: Maarufu Mohamed, Standard]

There is this new golf course in Uganda (well probably not so new considering that it has been open for about a year now), where golfers and birds have learnt to co-exist.

The birds at Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort in Kigo start their tweeting as the sun rises over the lake and they keep at it even as golfers go round disturbing their peace.

I have been here for one week refereeing at the Uganda Open and must say that tweets from the original residents of this garden of Eden are much better than those of Twitterati. The Uganda Open could not have been held at a better venue. As I watch the players go through the course, I occasionally think that the birds have learnt to communicate to golfers.

For instance, I watched as a golfer hooked his ball on the 18th hole and his ball startled a pair of grey crowned cranes that were enjoying an afternoon stroll on the 17th fairway. The grey crowned cranes flew away as they informed the player of his next move: “Oooh-haau!… ooh-haau!” they trumpeted. In the Gîkûyû language, “ooh-hau” loosely translated means “just over there!”.

The birds that are to be found in many Ugandan emblems seemed to be telling the player not to move forward but to tee it up again as the 17th fairway is out of bounds for players on the 18th hole.

This is the only available option for players who hit the ball out of bounds in major competitions. Forget the option of dropping the ball on the fairway for a two-stroke penalty that many players are talking about. That option can’t be used in a handicapping event or even a major event like the Uganda Open. Let us just agree that is only available for friendly rounds on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

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The architect of Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort saw it fit to have water features on all the 18 holes. A mishit shot on the course will definitely end up in a watery grave. Watching the little colourful malachite kingfisher taking a dive and emerging from the water, some players at the Uganda Open must have wished that their golf balls could emerge in the same graceful and effortless way after being hit into the drink.

One player who ran out of golf balls after dunking his last one on the 12th hole was wondering whether to leave the course prematurely. At that very moment, the eastern grey plantain-eater started its laugh sounding call almost as if on cue. The player could not hide his delight when he learnt that he is allowed to borrow golf balls from fellow competitors to complete his round.

The most significant announcement made by the President of the Uganda Golf Union, Mr Innocent Kihika, is that this year’s Uganda Open will form part of the Safari Tour. The road to the 2020 Magical Kenya Open will now make three stops in Uganda and one in Tanzania in addition to the seven events here in Kenya. Having the grey crowned crane (or crested crane as some call it) trophy will be a feather in the Safari Tour’s cap.

Vincent Wang’ombe is an executive member of Kenya Golf Union

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