Taken from my upcoming book A Storm On Any Course, the final chapter of Zander’s Trilogy.
A Birdie – Melville Golf Centre
Zander’s leg was improving by the day, but wasn’t yet strong enough to let him walk out to the practice areas in the middle of the course, let alone get all the way round and, with the club’s driving range out of commission for at least another two weeks, how was he going to hold his game together?
Then he thought about going to a public driving range and heard someone talking about, The Melville Golf Centre on the outskirts of Edinburgh, If I go there I could easily manage the short walk from my car onto the range so that would be as good a place as any to go to.
On his way into the Centre, Zander could see that the small car park alongside the safety net was almost full and that in it, a fair of number of highly polished, chromium-plated motorbikes were lined up as if about to start a race. So dragging his envious eyes away from the feast of expensive Harley Davidson, BMW and Honda machinery he drove on and into the main car park behind the range building.
The range officer told him to use the bayat the extreme left hand side, the one right next to the high safety net. When he got into the play area he was a bit put out to see that his bay was the only one not being used by a leather-clad ‘Hells Angel’, who – in trying out a new game – were swiping at golf balls like demented hockey players, spraying them in all directions and causing the Centre’s manager, no end of anxiety?
Until Zander turned up, The Hells Angels had had the place to themselves and up ‘till now had, with uninhibited abandon, been messing around and having a great time. However now that Zander had arrived, they had all stopped to watch him – possibly in the hope of learning something – but more than likely seeing him as an outsider invading their territory.
However, after seeing him miss-hit a few shots and now comfortable that he offered them no threat, they lost interest and got back to what they had been doing.
Relieved that he was longer under scrutiny, Zander began to strike the ball with some authority, until, – oh joy, oh rapture – he caught one right bang in the sweet spot. The instant that his club struck the ball he thought, ‘that is the kind of shot a really good golfer would play’ and in following through – as he always did when he thought he had played a decent shot – saw his ball soar up as if it would fly on forever.
His ball may well have done this, had its trajectory not been intercepted by the flight path of a large seagull, flying over the range from right to left.
The poor bird – with nothing on its mind except where its next meal was coming from – had no idea what hit it and in its stunned state, made a futile attempt to get over the top of the safety net, but did not quite make it. One of its wingtips caught the top net cord and after executing a couple of squawking, aerial cartwheels, the big bird fell out of the sky.
Just at that moment a bright red, open topped sports car turned into the first car park and was unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, as the stricken gull, still instinctively trying to fly, plummeted to earth and with a plonk, landed, in the driver’s lap.
What the unfortunate driver did next was what most people would do in these circumstances – he panicked and lost control of his little car, which turned out to be a bad thing for the Hells Angels’ motorbikes.
As the little car wobbled towards the chorus line of motorbikes, its front wing caught the front wheel of one of the end machine a glancing blow, which was enough to knock it off its stand, push it over onto the next one and so on, right along the line!
Zander, standing open-mouthed and -as if in slow motion – watched the Hells Angel’s cherished motorbikes topple over one by one and as each one fell – not only did it knock its neighbour over, activate its alarm, caught the attention of the owners and made them all look over to see what was happening.
Zander, realising that he was “the big bad boy what did it”, ran out of the range building and made for his car. What had started out as a casual limping walk gradually picked up speed, until, unable to contain his terror any longer, he broke into a panic-stricken hirpling dash for his car.
On his way out, Zander drove past a scene of mayhem, destruction, and probable retribution. What had, until a moment or two ago, been a beautiful showroom like array of motorbikes had now been reduced to a mass of ugly damaged metal, indicators flashing and alarm sirens screaming.
The petrified driver of the little red sports car – his eyes rolling like a spooked horse was stuck in his car, slap bang in the middle of a nightmare and could see a dust storm generated by the Hells Angels pounding boots getting closer by the second. Each one of them running Hell for leather and Hell bent on finding out what the Hell had happened to his beautiful, mechanical baby!
Then, while the driver of the little red car got ready to follow Zander’s example by getting the Hell away from here, the seagull, still sitting on the passenger seat preening itself back into shape, was also putting its mental compass back in shape to re start its interrupted flight.
Today, Zander had shot a real birdie, but at what cost to the cherished bikes of the Hells Angels’, the confused gull and – if he was not away and gone before the Hells Angels’ got to him – the bemused and blameless driver of the little red sports car!