Winning the Uganda Golf Open has and remains the primary yardstick of success in the sport. So any definition of best golfers over the last decade, the separation of the men from the boys, is hugely guided by this historical indicator. Here is a list of the top 10 golfers of 2010s, ranked from the least onwards.
10. Rogers Byaruhanga
He Won the Uganda Open in 2011, edging Gideon Kagyenzi by a stroke after carding 294 gross over four rounds. It was a bit of bolt from the blue, with Byaruhanga edging younger and more established players at the time like Henry Lujja and Willy Kitata. But it was a deserved success as Byaruhanga had certainly paid his dues, finishing on the podium regularly in previous Uganda Golf Calendar events.
9. Brian Mwesigwa
His moment of glory coincided with the 70th anniversary of the Uganda Open in 2010. Mwesigwa took his place among the winners of this revered tournament after beating Kenya’s Collins Omondi by six strokes. Mwesigwa promptly and understandably turned pro thereafter, winning a few local tournaments before finishing third in the professionals Uganda Open a few years later.
8. Willy Kitata
At his peak, he was unstoppable. He was so dominant, picking up countless wins in Jinja and his home club Entebbe, that by the time he won the 2014 Uganda Open it was all but expected. Kitata was also a key member of the national team that won several regional accolades before turning pro in 2015 and leaving for the US to play at a higher level.
7. Ronald Rugumayo
He was part of the national team that made history in 2015 by pipping unbeatable South Africa to the Zone V1 Africa Championship. Rugamayo also enjoyed international success in the East African Challenge before crowning his amateur career by winning the 2017 Uganda Open, fellow countryman Ronald Otile, who was on a hat-trick. He has since turned pro, with little regret.
6. Vincent Byamukama
He served the country with distinction, won several local tournaments before grabbing the Uganda Open in 2013 as a pro. Vicent Byamukama ended Uganda’s seven-year drought after outshining Kenya’s Richard Ainley by six strokes. It was the Kenyans who had claimed the previous six straight titles in a row but there were no match for Byamukama’s game.
5. Phillip Kasoozi
He captained Uganda on their way to the 2014 East Africa Challenge title in 2014. Uganda’s team included other talents like Ronald Otile and Peter Ssendawula and Kasoozi provided the leadership that helped push it over the line. In 2012, Kasozi had won many tournaments but he topped it off with the Uganda Open at Kitante. He would add several local accolades before turning pro. Kasoozi closed the last decade in the lead among Uganda golfers vying to compete in the Kenya Open via the Safari Tour.
4. Peter Ssendawula
With two Uganda Open titles to his name, Peter Ssendawula ranks among the golf greats of the past decade. Although his first win came in 2009, Ssendawula’s 2013 Uganda Open victory at Entebbe Club cemented his place in history. It showed how good he really is. Ssendawula also snatched the Mehta Golf Open twice and impressed for the national team that won the East African Challenge in 2014, among other club event victories.
3. Flavia Namakula
Granted this is an exception but if anyone deserves it, it is Flavia Namakula. With five Uganda Ladies Open titles in seven years (between 2010 and 2016), Namakula exhibited a rare brilliance that transcended all barriers. She turned pro in 2017 but financial challenges that prevented her from competing in the Sunshine Tour in South Africa plus the lack of professional events in the country and the region saw the legendary Namakula take a break to focus on commitments on her job in the UPDF.
2. Ronald Otile
The 2015 golfing calendar will, besides the national team’s historic Zone V1 Africa Golf championship victory, always be remembered for youngster Ronald Otile incredible displays in the Uganda Open and Africa Championships. Otile teamed up with Adolf Muhumuza as, against all odds, they won a game against South Africa, in the four-balls. Otile won both the main amateur and professional’s categories that year, spicing up his victories by also taking the longest drive prize on the 18th fairway. At just 20, Otile later came two strokes short of winning the individual accolade at the Africa Amateur Golf Championship at Limuru Golf and Country Club in Nairobi.
1. Deo Akope
Who else but Deo Akope? He won the professionals Uganda Open for the second time in 2014 to add to his 2006 victory. Akope, who has slipped from his career-high world ranking of 1527 in 2013 to 2004 in 2018, was the first professional to attract corporate sponsorship, with a $24,000 (sh58m) annual deal from MTN to compete in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Sunshine Tour events. He also coached the national team for over three years and boasts countless victories in Uganda and in the region, including making the cut on the highly competitive Sunshine Tour in 2012.