Birds Hill GC was the venue for the 9 th GOA OPEN and the mad scramble was on for places in this ever increasingly popular event. No less than 60 players sent in applications almost certainly as word spreads from each time the competition is played on how much enjoyment and fun is had over the whole day.

Birds Hill GC.

The 5943yd Par 72 course in Drift Road, near Maidenhead, Berkshire was a fairly good test for the average golfer, although fraught with dangers should poor club decisions be made. This was to be the case for a number of players who rued the use of the Driver, when the 3 Wood or long iron would have been a better choice. The greens were rolling true probably around 8 to 9 on the Stimpmeter, and the hidden breaks probably foxed a number of close putts.

The main organisers and partners in crime, Jac and Joe ( Goan version of Laurel and Hardy) and their hardworking team,  put in a tremendous amount of work and patience into the day which included a breakfast of sorts, 9 th hole refreshments of a packed lunch – similar to the one had at St. Teresa’s school back in Nairobi in the 60s’ – complete with fruit and drinks on what turned out to be a fantastically hot and sweltering day.

Free souvenirs, given each year to the players, this time consisted of hats with the GOA logo and a nifty cooler bag, both of which injected a temporary feel good factor before mother GOLF brought on a sense of reality.

Longest drives, nearest the pin prizes were on offer.

John Fernandes conducted a very beneficial golf clinic covering all facets of the game including the mental side.

Raffle time, with loads of super donations was to follow the golf at the evening dinner which included a real treat in the 3 course carvery!

Coffee and bacon rolls starts off the day proper and then the golf blarney starts with the mind games players play on each other in gamesmanship ala a certain Mr Tiger! ‘My putting is soooo bad, I have the touch of a Walrus’ was one comment heard. ‘No, no what you have to do to improve it is just accelerate the putter through the ball …..’  (Have we heard this one before??)  Another comment heard was ‘I just cannot get rid of that damned slice. One day it’s going to boomerang straight back to me!’ (maybe if you got rid of that belly, the slice would go too!!)  And so it continued before the adrenaline kicked in and logic and sensible conversation disappeared faster than moisture in the Sahara, as the scramble for the driving range was prioritised ahead of the putting green.


The smart money this year for Category 1, GOA members, was on last year’s winner and 11handicapper, Connie Mascarenhas. But youngest player and Middlesex County’s scratch team player, 19 yr old and playing off h/c of just 1, John Fernandes may prove a threat. But in golf, the stapleford format usually favours the in form higher handicappers.

Category 2 talk favoured Narinder Gill playing of just 6 and Raman Patak, off 9 although Joe Desa came close in previous events.

The first 4 holes were all under 400 yds, tempting some players to wield their ‘State of the art, all singing all dancing, latest technology Drivers. Trouble was, very few hit the mile wide fairway and instead of all singing, it became a case of all crying for some! Still it was all good fun as the spring in the step reflected a determination that unfortunately belied ability!  The 4 par 5s were all birdie holes and shots could be gained here with the correct strategy. The day would eventually come down to, as in all competitions, a hot putter. Who would prevail?

At the halfway stage, there were a number of players only separated by the odd point or two in Category 1, but in Category 2, big Joe Desa was ‘burning up the course’ with 25 points!

When the final scores came in the Organisers had to perform a final check on the scores and the stapleford points as errors are frequently made here but thankfully not the case this year, as players have improved on their Logarithms skills!


-Complimentary prize winner went to Doc Devsi h/c 21 who shot 37 points.

-Longest drive on hole 13 went to Arthur Staussi ( thought he beefed his drive 440 yds but it turned out to be 240 as it was on the fairway!)

-Team prize for a whooping 111 points went to Joe Desa, Jayant Patel and Hitesh Patel.

-Nearest the pin

Hole 5 – Mana Bansal

Hole 9 – Harry Manku

Hole 12 – Norton Manku

Hole 15 – Joe Desa

-Category 2 winner did go to big Joe Desa h/c 11, who followed his opening 25 with a 19 for a whopping total of 44! ( chop his legs off please !!)  6 shots back, in second place on countback was Narinder Gill h/c 6 and Gerson Louzado h/c 15 in third place.

-Category 1:  winner with 39 pts was John Fernandes ( h/c 1)  who scored on every hole. His gross score was 2 under 70. He only used his driver from the 6 th hole and only 5 times in the whole round which included 5 birdies and he proved the importance of putting with just 28 putts.

2 shots behind was Orlando Braganza (h/c 15) and 2005 winner Fidelis D’Mello a further shot back.

In his speech, John had the floor in hysterics, when he mentioned his Uncle Walter, despite behind a bush, getting hit by a golf shot from a certain Mr Miranda!

John has now won the GOA Open 3 times and is relishing defending his trophy at the 10 th anniversary next year at Blue Mountain golf club

‘Quote of the day’ from Connie Mascarenhas: ‘I should have left that damned driver in the bag’

Finally a special thank to all the sponsors for their contribution in making this another successful event.

Alywn D’Souza
Blaise Fernandes
Bob Fernandes
Cedric D’Cruz
Conie Mascarenhas
Dr Devsi

Eusebio Fernandes
Fidelis D’Mello
Flavio & Bernie Gracias
Flora Mascarenhas

Gerson Louzado
Hillary Fernandes
Joe Desa
Keith Mascarenas
Norton Miranda
Olga Mistry
Ray Misquita
Roy D’Souza
Stan Colaco

Also a special thanks to all the helpers.


A proper warm up is crucial to avoid the first few holes of your round becoming the warm-up. After the round, stretch down to reduce possible aches the next morning!

Grip Pressure: Remember to grip the club with no more pressure than that you apply to a tube of toothpaste. This will enable the club to ‘freewheel’ through the ball.

For chip shots, grip down, ‘wrist break’ on the backswing, lock and turn shoulders through, keeping hands ahead.

For pitching, grip down and make a shorter backswing and follow-through swing to get maximum control.

Favoured ball position is approx 3 inches from left heel with right heel moving further away as club gets longer.

Uneven lies: Lean and tilt shoulders with the slope and adjust your ball position so that it is at the bottom of your swing arc.

Tempo is the key for ALL shots.

To hit the ball lower, move it back in your stance by no more than 1 ball or 2

Move ‘round the clock’ around the ball for a draw or fade, making sure to keep the club at its address position.

Read mid range putts on both sides i.e. north and south. Maintain the same tempo for ALL putts, whether long or short.

Seriously consider NOT using your driver on certain holes. It is the most difficult club to hit the fairway! Prioritise hitting the fairway ahead of length off the tee.

When in the long rough, forget the green and get the ball back on the fairway where golf should be played from. It will only cost you 1 shot – if it does.

Know your yardages for each club. It will give you confidence when you have to carry bunkers or water hazards!

Finally, make your mind up to have fun, irrespective of your score. That way you cannot loose!

John Fernandes