Birdies and Eagles by Daniella T
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Birdies and Eagles

Daniella says: Golf can be a very frustrating game: indeed, one of the definitions of a green is “a well-manicured patch of grass that reduces grown men – and women, let me assure you! – to tears”. In Belgium, beginners have to take a rigorous two-part test in theory and practice before they are allowed on the fairway. This fic was born from these frustrations. Rated for some crude golf jokes.

At the end of the daily briefing, Anderson looked around at the team for a couple of moments, as if gathering strength to tell them something that would probably not go down too well.

“As you know, G-Force is also obliged to participate in the annual inter-ISO sports competition and...” he raised a hand in anticipation of the various groans and grunts.

“...and there's no way you can avoid it short of a major attack, so don't try to. And don't try to provoke Zoltar into launching one. Are you listening, Jason?”

The sudden change in Anderson's focus, from the team to him personally, caught Jason off-guard. He hemmed and hawed and straightened his posture a bit.

“Now, according to the lottery draw, you guys will be the ISO golf team”.

The groans and grunts erupted and Anderson thought it better to allow them to let off a bit of steam. When the first outbreak was over he resumed, exhibiting remarkable coolness in the face of one of Jason's shuriken, which had found itself out of the pocket of the team's second-in-command and into a pair of increasingly agitated hands.

“Yes, I know Tiny would have preferred rugby, Jason the rifle competition, Keyop bowling and Princess and Mark beach-volley – frankly, I would prefer it if you could get away with the tug-of-war competition, but golf it is. You have been assigned an instructor, and I will be accompanying you in all your classes – just to be on the safe side. I expect you to be on your best behaviour”.

With these threatening words, Anderson left the team of disgruntled teenagers, who were suddenly hoping for an attack from Spectra, and a very lethal one at that...

A couple of days later, the same disgruntled teenagers, with Anderson in tow, assembled on the ISO's nine-hole training golf course and driving range. A dapper young man in a checked shirt, bermudas and a pair of weird clunky shoes, with some kind of embedded studs, met them. The prospect of meeting G-Force was obviously not helping his nerves, as he kept gripping a golf cap in his hands, twisting it out of shape.

"Team, this is Peter, he will be your instructor. I expect you to listen very carefully, or you'll have to answer to me", said Anderson.

"Won't be the first time", muttered Mark under his breath as Anderson stepped aside and gave the floor to Peter.

"We won't have to dress like you, will we?" asked Tiny anxiously. "I mean", he continued, "there's nothing wrong with your outfit but, you know, we have to be able to go into birdstyle at a moment's notice".

Peter took a big breath.

"First of all, may I tell you how happy I am to meet you all? Although I feel this pleasure will not last long...", he added, looking at the sullen faces around him. "Anyway, if you come with me, I'll show you your equipment".

He showed them five blue golf bags with the regulatory 14 clubs.

"Now, this one is for Mark...the small bag is for Keyop...the big one for Tiny...this one for Jason...and the ladies' one for Princess..."

They approached their bags with looks of trepidation.

"Can't I have mine in pink please?", asked Princess.

"No you can't", snapped Anderson. "Come on, sit down here, we'll start the theory lesson".

Jason was already taking clubs out and trying to calculate angles and distances. He looked up at the latest remark.

"Oh, Chief, don't tell us we'll also have to study!".

Peter jumped in firmly.

"Yes, I'm afraid you will. You're all new to golf, there's a lot to learn".

They sat around the table, and Peter gave out pens and notepads. He gave them a quick overview of the purpose of the various clubs -- Jason perked up at the thought that he would able to aim at something, even if he would be allowed to shoot it.

"Golf teams are usually made up of four people. But all of you will train and then four of you will play in each of the competitions. Chief Anderson has assured me that you are all in excellent physical condition, and even Princess and Keyop, even out of birdstyle, will be able to manage the regulatory long drives in order to qualify".

"We're going for a drive?" asked Jason hopefully.

"Can't we fly?" asked Mark.

Peter managed not to roll his eyes, but it was close.

"Drive, team. I just told you. A drive is a long-distance shot".

"Ah", said Jason, a bit deflated.

"Now, as you're all beginners, you'll start with the maximum handicap..."

"You're being very politically-incorrect, mate", said Tiny. "You're not supposed to say handicapped. And in any case, we're all in perfectly good shape".

"I didn't say handicapped, I said handicap. It's the difference between the number of shots an expert player, i.e. me, needs to get the ball in the hole, compared to newbies, i.e. you. Pay attention. Suppose a hole is a par four, this means I need four shots to get the ball in the hole, and you get two extra shots per hole, so for 18 holes you'll have a 36 handicap...".

By that time, the sniggers had gotten so loud that he had to stop. Jason actually had tears of mirth in his eyes. Princess was doubled over. Tiny and Keyop were whispering in each other's ear, giggling like naughty teenagers -- which, in a way, they were. Mark was looking increasingly embarrassed at the behaviour of his team-mates, while Anderson was contemplating slowly sneaking away and changing his name.

"!" sniggered Keyop, summing up how the team felt.

Peter showed remarkable restraint.

"Yes, well, we all hear these jokes from time to time...when dealing with immature youngsters...", his voice trailed off, remembering that these immature youngsters were Earth's first line of defence...This thought sobered him up. Immature youngsters...Earth's first line of defence...hmm...WAS this such a good idea?

But Anderson was not so understanding. These immature youngsters had cost him enough grey hairs already.

"OK, team, that's enough! Quit horsing around, otherwise shore privileges will be removed, and you'll all be grounded at Centre Neptune, doing maintenance and kitchen duty!"

Five eager faces looked up at Peter as he continued.

"So, back to the par".

"The bar?" asked Tiny.

"Not the bar, the par. The number of strokes needed to hole out. Now, if it's a par four hole, and you have a 36 handicap, and you hole out in five strokes, you've got a birdie".

Mark jumped up, palms flat on the table.

"Hey, who are you calling birdy?"

Jason pulled him down.

"So do the maths...Par plus handicap minus one is a birdie, minus two is an eagle".

"That's better", nodded Mark, apparently mollified.

"And minus three is an albatross, but I don't think this happy moment will arise...Anyway, that's enough of theory for you. Here's a book with the rules and regulations. I'm sure that a well-trained and disciplined group like you will have no problem understanding them".

He took another deep breath as the five G-Forcers were browsing, stupefied, through their little green books, wondering what a lateral hazard could be, or what the difference was between a foursome and a fourball.

"Time to hit the fairway, team, and try out your new clubs. ONE LAST THING. If, at any moment, you hear someone cry out "fore!", you duck down immediately and cover your head. You DONT'T look around or try to find where the ball is coming from and shoot it".

They nodded and followed Peter to the driving range, where small mats of astroturf marked out the various training spots. They stood to attention next to their bags. Peter walked around like a drill sergeant on parade.

“Take out your number seven iron. Hold it like this...stand with your feet together. Now open a bit on the left...a bit more on the right...bend down at the waist...flex your knees...lift your club...three quarters back...and...GO!”.

Peter and Anderson ducked instinctively as five clubs rose in a semi-circle and swooped down towards the balls. Jason was the only one who actually managed to hit his ball, although even his effort did not clear the fifty-yard mark. Princess's pirouette around herself, however, did have some merit, on the ballet front, thought Peter, lifting his head cautiously.

“OK, OK, we all have to start somewhere. Jason, stop high-fiving everyone. If the ball was your rocket launcher, Earth would've been overrun by Spectra ages ago. Now, get back on your mats”.

Anderson gave his pep talk and moved back.

“Team, you have taken your first steps towards playing golf. Get your clubs...feet a bit on the left...a bit more on the right...bend at the waist...flex your knees..lift your clubs...”.

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