Lake Victoria Course a Ugandan Showcase

Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort (Image: Serena Hotels)

Luxurious Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort and Spa is set on the shore of Africa’s largest lake. (Image: Serena Hotels)

Set on the shore of Africa’s most famous lake, the course at Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort and Spa has helped jump-start golf tourism in Uganda.

(Last updated January 2023.)

Golf tourism in Uganda took a giant leap forward with the October 2018 launch of the course at Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort and Spa, a design by Kevin Ramsey of Golfplan Inc. set on the shore of Africa’s largest lake.

A decade in the making, Ramsey’s 7,262-yard, par-72 layout is defined by Lake Victoria, a looming presence throughout the course—but in particular on the opening and finishing holes. An enormous man-made lagoon that is home to a busy marina separates the first and ninth holes from the seventeenth and eighteenth.

“Once you reach the landing area, all of Lake Victoria spreads out before you,” Ramsey says of his opening hole. “The par-four 18th is another picturesque par four, playing to an island green. It’s something quite special to have a gallery of pleasure boats shuttling in and out of this marina as the round begins and ends.”

Ramsey’s course is the centrepiece of a 124-room, Mediterranean-style luxury resort located roughly midway between Entebbe and Kampala, Uganda’s capital. The property is part of the Serena Hotels chain of upscale resorts in East Africa, South Africa and South Asia.

There are 16 golf courses scattered throughout Uganda, a landlocked East Africa nation of 44.5-million with tourist attractions ranging from jungle safaris and hiking to gorilla watching in famous Bwindi National Park.

Lake Uganda Serena Golf Resort and Spa pool. (Image: Serena Hotels)

The 124-room Mediterranean-style resort is midway between Entebbe and Kampala. (Image: Serena Hotels)

Top golf courses include Uganda Golf Club, which runs through the heart of Kampala and is easily the country’s most famous course; Entebbe Golf Club, bordering the Uganda Wildlife Centre, with some holes playing over a rhino enclosure; and Mehta Golf Club, which twists through the Lugazi sugar and tea plantation near the town of Jinja.

Uganda’s newest golf course celebrated its opening by hosting the inaugural Serena Johnnie Walker Open, a three-day event won by Ugandan professional Phillip Kasozi.

Kasozi called the design at Lake Victoria Serena “brilliant,” adding that it is certain to help popularize golf in Uganda.

Ramsey, the course’s California-based architect, has found that patience is definitely a virtue when designing a layout in an emerging market like East Africa. “The first nine at Lake Victoria took seven years start-to-finish; the last nine took just two. It serves no one to artificially advance a project according to arbitrary schedules. It’s better to get things exactly right.”

Several holes play up into natural grasslands dotted with acacia trees, a landscape offering long views over the course and Lake Victoria. Native wildlife ranges from monitor lizards to bird species that include the Ugandan crane and the marabou stork.

Ramsey has also spotted a python in the papyrus reeds alongside the ninth hole. “But I don’t go out there looking for him,” he says.