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Golf report by Yours Truly Grand Finale

Coastweek -- As our direct link to our very local news, the mirror to the events and happenings right in our own backyards, our own Coastweek, comes to the end of its journey and bids us farewell, it is not out of place, it is in fact quite in order, to indulge in some reminiscences, a sentimental look back and recall a few milestones along the journey.

It all started way back in the year 1975.

Adrian Grimwood was based in Mombasa as the Bureau Chief of Nation Newspapers and he had earlier recruited Shiraz Alibhai as the Advertising Representative for the Nation.

Each with his own area of expertise and knowhow complemented the other, leading to a great teamwork and this business association developed into cherished friendship.

Being young and enterprising, the two started dreaming of bigger and better things and decided to venture out in the business of publishing their own paper.

Both had the drive and ability but were just a little short of cash for which they turned to the Late Kanwarlal Sabhar-wal, a keen photographer and pilot by passion who had established the business of running an airline through his company Amphibian Air Chart-ers Limited.

The Late Kanwar was persuaded immediately and for a share in the business, lent Adrian and Shiraz the start up capital.

With that injection of fuel, it was all systems go and the first issue of Coastweek rolled off the printing press and out into the public domain on 10th Nov-ember 1978 .

Right from its inception, Coastweek provided space in its pages for golf news through this column which has continued for most part of the life of the paper, with a break for a few years.

The very first golf reporting in the opening issue was no more than a mention of the winners of Mug at Mombasa Golf Club without any dateline.

In the issue of 1st December 1978, Neta Peal reported briefly with names of the winners of a competition.

The issue also carried the first appearance by the late, great “Centi Kumi”, aka Paddy Rainsford and also known, but only in a more formal and official context, as Patrick Rainsford.

Paddy’s very first write up was not exactly a report on a game or its results but was devoted entirely to an issue that obviously concerned him strongly enough to prompt him to put pen to paper and which issue continues to rile us equally today.

In fact, if anything, it has be-come even more of a problem, namely, the slow pace of play and the unnecessary delay caused by this lazy, lethargic way of playing golf.

It would do a whole lot of good to have Paddy’s write up circulated all around to try and nudge players into picking up a bit of pace by quite small and simple measures, such for instance as to keep your tee and glove ready in hand as you walk towards the tee box, not to take a dozen practice swing and certainly by no means a divot with every practice swing, to have the putter and ball marker in hand as you get to the green and walk briskly to your ball, put the marker down, pick up and get the ball cleaned in readiness for your turn.

One could go on a bit but you get the general drift, hopefully.

Neta Peal made her contributions from time to time but it was Paddy’s column that became a regular feature, week after week and carried on until he could do it no more, being diagnosed with cancer in early eighties to which he succumbed sadly in 1990.

It was not easy to fill Paddy’s shoes and it took the combined efforts of more than one person to continue from where Paddy had left.
P. K. Jaipal and Zakir Datoo took up the baton and kept the golf column going.

When Jaipal left us for greener pastures, Zakir carried on but finding it increasingly difficult to cope with work, golf and his journalistic duties, he turned to yours truly who having just acquired handicap, in around 1984, took up the invitation with the enthusiasm of a new golfer.

Fortunately, the duties were shared and therefore easier to cope with until the time when Zak decided he had given enough of his time and effort and so gradually withdrew, leaving yours truly in the deep end.

Help came however when asked for, Brian Elms being roped in more than anyone else.

There were others too, Steve Davidson ready whenever he could and Jean Elms chipping in once or twice.

Later much to my delight and relief, Yogesh Patel came on the scene and became a regular contributor in the similar mode of partnership I had with Zak.

By the end of 1999, the same factors that saw Zak out, pressure of work combined with other commitments, began to take the toll and I bowed out, leaving the column in the safe hands of Yogesh, later joined by Elizabeth Wilson with Poon-am Thapa coming in when needed.

Yogesh too moved away to Nairobi, Poonam got caught up in other demands on her time so Elizabeth was left to continue as the solo reporter till she too moved away.

There was no golf except for a sporadic report for a few years as I continued to resist persistent pressure from Shiraz to take up the column again.

On a spur of the moment, in the year 2008 I did cover the Ladies Open but without any intention of a regular future commitment.

But Coastweek did not seem the same without a golf column and so I came back, in the year 2009 and have been here continually since then, except when away on a holiday.

Like Paddy Rainsford and all others, yours truly opted to use an alias, to start with “Follow Through”, varying sometimes with Miss D’ Bunker which however was dropped soon as being indicative of the gender, it could have been an easier pointer to the identity.

In the latter phase it has mostly been “The Driver”, an audacious choice of nom de plume for someone of rather limited range off the tee.

But that disconnect between the alias and the reality provided the safety of anonymity, it being difficult to make any connection between the name and yours truly, unlike the case of Centi Kumi, an alias which could hardly serve to preserve Paddy’s anonymity, given the brand of cigarette he favoured!

Much more likely to make the connection between the name and the person behind it, given the state of my game, was my less frequently used alternative name “The Marker” !

With the change of name I tried to vary my writing style, in order to create the illusion of more than one person writing the report, the slow, heavy, almost ponderous style adopted by The Driver being my favourite one!

Some of you may have made an educated guess, the absence of the column during my absence being a tell tale sign, despite Steve Davidson filling in occasionally.

I have enjoyed my stint at covering the golfing scene in Mombasa despite occasionally suffering the well known “writer’s block” and having to meet deadlines, with gentle reminders from Gulshan at the Coastweek of early deadlines when there was a long weekend or a public holiday fell on the normal day for submitting my copy.

But I would be telling a lie, if I said that I am not looking forward to enjoying my Sundays restfully, free of any tension to try and put together at least the first draft, subject to a quick polishing up, to submit it in time for Gulshan!

There are three people who have helped me out with information about correct names or scores if I missed them out, quite often supplying the info at the end of a telephone line to meet the deadline.

The three are Christine Ombija, when she was at Nyali Golf and Country Club as well after moving to Mombasa Golf Club, Gladys Kidali while she was at Nyali and after she left, Ndoro Thoya Ndoro who stepped in.

Thank you very much, I appreciate your help.

Now with the end in sight, time has come to own up and tell all, so there, as we say in legalese, the names Follow Through, Miss D’ Bunker, The Marker and The Driver are all names of and refer to one and the same person, me, whom you know as Suhas Gudka, abbreviation of the full name Suhasini Gudka and the real, original name being Suhasini Shah.

I would like end by sharing with you a few lines I have penned, a limerick in which some of you may see your own reflection :-

There once was a golfer, very keen but not really much good
He bought himself swishy sets of irons and wood after wood
He followed lessons on videos and devoured book after book
Tried very hard but sadly could not reduce the shots he took
Only, oh but if only, the intricacies of the swing he understood!



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