Daily Membership Fee: MWK1800 ($9.50)
Green Fees: 9 – MWK1150 ($6) / 18 – MWK1900 ($10)
Rental Clubs: Average / 9 – MWK750 ($4) / 18 – MWK1500 ($8)
Caddy: Compulsory / 9 – MWK1000 ($5) / 18 – MWK2000 ($10) incl. tip
Phone Number: +265 (0)1 753 118
How time flies when you’re having fun!
Since my last round here in Nairobi, at the Kenya Railway Golf Club, almost a month ago, I have successfully completed my first solo tour of East Africa, negotiating the highways and byways of Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia to arrive at Vic Falls with everyone still in one piece, well fed and happy!
My group of 22 leaving Nairobi was cut down by one during our trip in the Serengeti when I had to escort one of the guests out to the hospital in Arusha and unfortunately leave her there to recover while we headed off to Zanzibar. I need to note that it wasn’t my cooking that put her in that position in the first place and since then she has returned home and is on the road to recovery.
The time in Zanzibar was just as amazing as the first time, the beach empty and the water warm, but still no golf course!
Our group was cut again when the first leg of the tour ended and only 9 were continuing on with me to Vic Falls. Lake Malawi provided some expected amusement at our Kande Beach Dress-Up Party, although with the skimpy outfit that was chosen for me it was more of a Dress-Down Party. After leaving Kande Beach we arrived in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, in the early afternoon, opening it up for a quick nine holes at the Lilongwe Golf Club.
That day on the truck I had been chatting to Len, who was more affectionately known as ‘Dad’ on the trip, about my blog and my master plan for golf tourism in general. So when the opportunity came up later that day, he accepted my invitation and became the first official guest of The Shoestring Golfer!
I made a quick call to the club to check the prices and then we made the 10 minute walk down the road to the club entrance, where we were met by two of the caddies who were vying for our business. Before needing their assistance though we had to stop at; The Reception; The Cashier; The Pro Shop; and then The Starter, only then did we get onto the 1st tee. The Green Fees for nine holes were again very affordable at MWK1150 (Malawi Kwacha), which is about US$6. Unfortunately we had to pay the Daily Membership Fee of MWK1800 ($9.50), which if we had had more time, we could have made use of the Swimming Pool, Tennis Courts, Bowling Greens and Soccer & Cricket Fields, but we didn’t, so just had to suck it up! Our Rental Sets were MWK750 ($4), which brought the total to MWK3700 ($19.50). The Caddy Fee was an extra MWK1000 ($5) for nine holes including tip. If you wanted to play eighteen holes, the total cost would work out to MWK7200 ($38), which relative to some of the other courses I have played recently, is a little more expensive, but when you think that this is the only 18 Hole course in the whole of Malawi and home of the annual Malawi Open Tournament, it is still a pretty good deal. I guess the proof would be in the proverbial pudding and the quality of the course would determine whether or not it was a good deal.
We only ended up taking one of the caddies, Charles, who carried Dad’s bag and showed us around his home course. His guidance must have been pretty good, as I parred the first two holes and was doing well with my rental clubs off the tee and from the fairway (when I found it). On the first hole, when deciding on my club selection into the green, I asked him what the altitude of Lilongwe was, so that I could avoid the mis-adventures of my first round in Nairobi, but I don’t think my question translated too well and I didn’t get a concrete answer. I decided to go with the middle club, neither sea level nor high altitude and it worked out perfectly. Only after the round was complete I found the answer to my question……1050 meters or 3445 feet above sea level.
The round continued to go well and I could see Dad was enjoying his game, only his third round for the year, but he was pulling some nice shots together. The course was in good condition, which is bound to improve, as they are installing an irrigation system at the moment, which will help them maintain the course all year round.
The light was starting to fade and I was keeping an eye on my watch, cause I knew I had to get back to make dinner for the group, but we were still on track and on the 9th tee I strained my eyes to watch my drive fly beautifully into the distance and only as we started walking up the fairway could I see it sitting almost pin high on the right of the green, turning around as I reached the ball I looked back towards the tee 315m (350 yards) away and smiled.
With a chip and two putts I parred the last and was more than happy on the walk back to the campsite with a score of 42. We were back by 6pm and dinner was served just on 7:30pm, perfect!
I knew Len had enjoyed the round as much as I had and on our last dinner together in Livingstone, as we all shared our favourite memories of the tour, I know he was tempted to mention his round in Lilongwe with The Shoestring Golfer, it was one of mine!