U.S. Open Player’s Gallery has Global Reach
University of Oregon Coach has fans in Uganda, where he sponsors kids who want to golf.
By Adam Jude | JUNE 13, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO — Tiger Woods may be the favorite to win the U.S. Open, but to a group of kids in Uganda, there’s no question who their favorite golfer is.
“To them, ‘Uncle Casey’ is more recognizable than Tiger Woods,” said Roxanne Robbins, the founder of a Christian-based nonprofit organization that supports orphans and impoverished families in the Uganda capital of Kampala.
Casey Martin, the Oregon golf coach who qualified for this week’s U.S. Open, had met Robbins through mutual friends in 2001. They’ve stayed in touch, and Robbins included Martin on a mass e-mail list when she moved to Uganda five years ago to start the program, called Tukutana.
Recently, Martin sponsored 26 children to go to the seven-week Uganda Junior Golf Program, which before was open only to high-income families. Martin’s sponsorship helped pay for the childrens’ uniforms, equipment and transportation to the golf course a half-hour away.
“It was really phenomenal for these kids because it gave them such a sense of confidence (when) they were able to step somewhere they never thought they would step,” Robbins said. “It’s quickly becoming a strong program largely because of Casey.”
Robbins and the children, ranging in age from 8 to 15, have Skyped with Martin several times, and the kids recently sent him a package with pictures and thank-you letters.
“She’s sent me pictures of all the kids playing golf in their uniforms, and it’s just awesome,” Martin said.
Tukutana — meaning “Working together with hope” — has a Facebook page, and there’s a two-minute news report on YouTube showing the kids from the program playing golf.