Kilembe Mines Golf Club (KMGC)
By Dani Renno
You haven’t golfed in Uganda if you haven’t played the course at KMGC!
Established in the late 1950s, when Kilembe Mines was fully operational, KMGC quickly developed a reputation as one of the best golf clubs in East Africa. Fully irrigate and with a large, active membership, the club was a hub of social and golfing activity. It hosted a number of events, among them the Uganda Amateur Open in 1968. The local rule printed on the back of the score card, suggesting a free drop if your ball lands in the footprint of a wild animal, provides a small insight into what the course used to be like.
With the demise of Kilembe Mines, towards the end of the 70s, the club began a slow and bumpy slide towards an uncertain future. Corporate investment all but vanished, the irrigation system was pilfered piece by piece, and the once dynamic membership dwindled to a faithful few. Various corners of the course reverted back to bush, with only the enthusiastic perseverance of a handful of local golfing aficionados, with the help of one or two companies (e.g. KCCL), keeping some of the 18 holes playable, and the golfing spirit alive in Kasese.
Over the last 3 to 4 years, however, thanks to the commitment of a small team of dedicated golfers and, more recently, to regular support from Hima Cement Ltd, the future of KMGC is looking rosier. Despite desperately limited finances and serious problems with encroachers, the full 18 holes have been re-opened and huge strides are being made to bring KMGC back to some of its former glory.
The course is described as the oldest, longest and most challenging course in Uganda. The undulating par 73 layout provides a true test of golfing skill and judgement. The sun-baked fairways and greens are generally very firm, forcing golfers to polish up on their chip-and-runs, and the roughs are definitely not for the faint-hearted. Though the greens rely on the meagre rainfall Kasese receives, a rolling programme of green improvements is underway.
Golfing efforts are well rewarded as KMGC is set in magnificent surroundings. Just above Kasese town, in the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains, on a clear day golfers are treated to stunning, panoramic views of the surrounding hills and mountain peaks on one side and the Albertine rift valley on the other. No longer does the club siren sound when a big cat is spotted on the course warning golfers to retreat back to the safety of the clubhouse, though KMGC is just a 45 minute drive away from Queen Elizabeth National Park, making it ideal for those who want to combine a round of golf with some game viewing.
2012 has been the club’s most active year in recent history. Members, and fellow golfers from the region, have enjoyed participating in regular monthly medals, a club singles’ match play and a par-3 competition. Golfers from further afield also played in the first Rwenzori Cup, a national annual inter-club tournament, as well as the revived Helmet Challenge, a competition between KMGC and Entebbe Club, last played in the 70s. The second, two-day, Hima Open also took place at the club on 3rd-4th November this year.
KMGC is relaxed and friendly, welcoming both veterans and beginners to the game. The cost of playing a round of golf on this historic course is very, very reasonable and, with prior warning, club hire can be arranged. The next time you are in the Kasese area, make sure that you don’t miss out on the opportunity to test your golfing skills on this fabulous course, and to join the ranks of those who can indeed say they have played golf in Uganda!
For more information, please contact:
Kilembe Mines Golf Club
PO Box 111, Kasese
Mobile: +256 706 593059
(Photos by Dave Renno)