By Michael Nsubuga
LEGENDARY golfer Sadi Onito is arguably Uganda’s greatest golfer of all time having won Uganda’s biggest golf competition - the Uganda Open a record twelve times.
He achieved the feat between 1976 and 1996. Then, it was the only tournament played off a stroke play format, and was often times used to separate the boys from the men.
Onito learnt his golfing craft in the late 1960s while caddying for a predominantly white band of golfers.
Besides winning twelve Open titles, Onito also imparted golfing skills to his sons. At first, two of his sons – Renatto Sebbi and the late Charles Yokwe were more associated with playing tennis as there were apparent barriers to entering the golfing sport then.
But when these barriers were lifted, Yokwe – also a former caddy replicated the feat of his father by winning the Open in 2003. The talented Yokwe seemed to be on his way to emulating his dad, but he perished in a fatal motorcar accident in 2005.
The death came a year after Onito had succumbed to a lengthy battle with cancer.
Teenage twins Emmanuel Opio and Grace Ochieng have, however, since come up to fill the void left by their dad, Onito, and big brother, Yokwe. Opio led the national golf team from 2007-2009, winning the 2009 East Africa Challenge at the picturesque lakeside Entebbe course.
Opio and his twin brother Grace Ocici despite not making it like their legendary father Onito, his legacy continues to live on thanks to his 23-year-old twins Emmanuel Onito Opio and Grace Ochieng Onito alias Ocici who have kept their father's fire burning and are now professionals with the UPGA An annual tournament sponsored by Nile Breweries - his former employers ‘the Onito Memorial’ is played in his memory at the Jinja Club.
In golf, Onito is for men while Alice Kego is for ladies. The most successful Ugandan female player to play the game with 12 Uganda Open wins, Alice and her husband Simon Kego Sr. have been part and parcel of the sport from as way back as the seventies.
Kego is currently a member of the seniors golfing society while their son Solomon has also made a mark in the sport.
Alice currently plays off handicap 20 and despite her advanced age still beats her opponents once in a while.
Stephen Birungi and the late Juma Jaffer are the other golfers that were very competitive during their time.