For more than two decades, Eva Magala has been on the golf courses in Uganda. Having lived her second half of life playing the game of swing, Darren Allan Kyeyune profiles the Uganda Ladies Golf Union president in This Week’s Golfer.
When did you start playing golf?
Who introduced you to golf?
My late husband Jolly Okatch.
What was your first handicap and how did it lower?
It was 36 but it took me about two weeks and I played 54 nett at a Monthly Mug. My handicap was cut to 19. In two years, I was a single handicapper.
It’s been a long journey. Tell us about your national team experience.
I had stage fright there but Kenyan Nalakya was then the Africa champion and she captured all attention. I first joined the national team in 2008 at the All Africa Challenge Trophy in Egypt but I have gained experience over time and interestingly I find it easier putting abroad and not on Uganda’s greens. Before the national team, we used to play tournaments outside Uganda like the Dubai Ladies Open in 1997.
What have you learnt from golf since you started playing?
Golf has grown me into a decent person which I don’t think any other sport would have been through leadership. I joined golf as a young girl at 20 and that’s half of my age I’ve been here. Golf is game of honesty and patience.
What does it mean to be Uganda Ladies Golf Union President?
It’s the highest office. Of course it feels good and I am honoured as I crown it off in my career.
How much has this added to your golf? This has not added on my golf but the golf has added to the presidency. It’s good to be a good player before becoming a president because you have a lot of people who look up to you.
You have been here for a while. From your experience, what challenges does ladies’ golf in Uganda face?
We have had a challenge recruiting girls into this game. Before I leave this chair, I want to have at least 10 girls playing with handicaps. We paid membership for five talented girls in Entebbe and we are doing countrywide. If they have membership, it encourages them to frequent the course. And another challenge is when they start picking up, they disappear because of lack of mentors.
Has women’s golf grown in any way, ever since you started playing?
Yes, very much. Norah Mbabazi and I were the only young ones in the whole country but there are several girls between 18 and 30 years which was never the case.
What is the future of Ladies Golf in Uganda? The future is so bright. Ladies’ and men’s union are carrying out a number of campaigns to see that women’s golf improves in the whole country.
You’ve played golf nearly half your life. How much more are you left to achieve in the game?
I would still love to win the Uganda Ladies Open and to be on the World Amateur Ranking at least with support from my children Alex Odoi, Alvin Okatch and Roberta Magala as well as sponsors: my brother Robert Mukasa and husband Kituuma Magala.
What’s your advice to young girls who would like to join golf?
They must start with a vision of playing golf to another level because when I started playing, I had no vision. It was about exercise and winning a few things but if I had a vision I would have turned to pro golf.
Date of birth: January 17, 1974
Club: Uganda Golf Club
Started Golf: June, 1996
Full-time job: Business lady
Best score: 68 gross at UGC
Favourite golf club: Katameya Heights Golf
& Tennis Resort Cairo, Egypt
Favourite ball: Titleist Pro V
Favourite golfer: Phil Mickelson
Major Honours: Nigeria Ladies Open (2018),
BB Ladies Open (2019), Eldoret Ladies Open