Synopses & Reviews
An epic Celtic sojourn in search of ancestors, nostalgia, and the world?s greatest round of golf
In his thirties, married, and staring down impending fatherhood, Tom Coyne was well familiar with the last refuge of the adult male: the golfing trip. Intent on designing a golf trip to end all others, Coyne looked to Ireland, the place where his father had taught him to love the game years before. As he studied a map of the island and plotted his itinerary, it dawned on Coyne that Ireland was ringed with golf holes. The country began to look like one giant round of golf, so Coyne packed up his clubs and set off to play all of it. And since Irish golfers didn?t take golf carts, neither would he. He would walk the entire way.
A Course Called Ireland is the story of a walking- averse golfer who treks his way around an entire country, spending sixteen weeks playing every seaside hole in Ireland and often battling through all four seasons in one Irish afternoon. Coyne plays everything from the top-ranked links in the world to nine-hole courses crowded with livestock. Along the way, he searches out his family?s roots, discovers that a once-poor country has been transformed by an economic boom, and finds that the only thing tougher to escape than Irish sand traps are Irish pubs. By turns hilarious and poetic, A Course Called Ireland is a magnificent tour of a vibrant land and a paean to the world?s greatest game.
"In this cheerily self-deprecating work, Coyne an Irish-American Philadelphian who never knew much about his roots and avoided exercise describes how he undertook a wildly ambitious plan to spend four months playing over 40 golf courses in Ireland and getting to them by walking. Coyne's tiredness quickly translates into hiker's euphoria; however, he has a tougher time facing the Irish breakfast every B&B owner serves him (sausages, rashers, beans, soda bread 'an afternoon of wincing regret'). Having already written a couple of books on golf (e.g., Paper Tiger), Coyne knows his way around a course, but more importantly, he also knows better than to bore readers with monotonous accounts of hole after hole. His style is more that of the travelogue, as he's bowled over by one astoundingly beautiful and windswept course after the next. By the time Coyne gets to Ulster, it's clear that golf is by far the least interesting thing for him, as the author packs his humorous narrative with historical tales and travel anecdotes about the small towns he passes through and the many pubs he stops in along the way." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In this cheerily self-deprecating work, Coynean Irish-American Philadelphian who never knew much about his roots and avoided exercisedescribes how he undertook a wildly ambitious plan to spend four months playing over 40 golf courses in Ireland and getting to them by walking. Coynes tiredness quickly translates into hikers euphoria; however, he has a tougher time facing the Irish breakfast every B&B owner serves him (sausages, rashers, beans, soda breadan afternoon of wincing regret). Having already written a couple of books on golf (e.g., Paper Tiger
), Coyne knows his way around a course, but more importantly, he also knows better than to bore readers with monotonous accounts of hole after hole. His style is more that of the travelogue, as hes bowled over by one astoundingly beautiful and windswept course after the next. By the time Coyne gets to Ulster, its clear that golf is by far the least interesting thing for him, as the author packs his humorous narrative with historical tales and travel anecdotes about the small towns he passes through and the many pubs he stops in along the way.
Forgive fellow golf writers their resentment of Tom Coyne. His well-reviewed first novel, A Gentlemans Game, was adapted into a well-reviewed film, co-scripted by Coyne and starring Gary Sinise. (Player haters would note it went straight to DVD; more generous observers would admit theyd contract the yips for such success.)
Coyne turned to first-person nonfiction with Paper Tiger, which saw the former standout junior golfer devote two years to his game, securing top teachers, mind-game gurus, trainers and technology in a quixotic attempt to earn a Tour card an idea that every grass- and ink-stained wretch has had but which Coyne (an occasional Golfweek contributor) somehow parlayed into a publishers advance.
At first glance, Coynes new book, A Course Called Ireland, should drive his brethren batty. The concept: Play every links course on the Emerald Isle, land of his forefathers. If this sounds less like a pitch than a moguls dream vacation, there is a twist: Coyne would walk the 1,000-plus miles between courses.
This deal-cinching trope would make even the most jealous of us think twice about, well, following in Coynes footsteps. The author himself takes pains early on to explain his ambulatory approach.
Its something to do with toughening a body and lifestyle gone soft, reconnecting with the games basic nature and so on. Whether you buy this justification or sense a whiff of blarney, it hardly matters, because the real reason to envy Coyne, and to buy this book, is that his writing outstrips even his salesmanship.
Coyne takes what could have been a numbing travelogue and jams it as tight as his lone knapsack with insight and humor. One memorable scatological incident in a quaint B&B will leave the reader doubled over; even better, when the event takes a serious turn, Coyne shows the intelligence, here as elsewhere, to extract larger meaning. Golf proves the authors vehicle, not his ends. There is plenty of substance, about the courses and the game, yes, but also about a rapidly changing Ireland, for starters.
Still, Coynes greatest strength remains his writing style, light and conversational. On his walking shoes: They were brown leather with important-looking straps, a big black rubber toe that announced their wearer as a person on his way to a place more timid souls didnt go. That, or as a sucker who paid far too much for a pumped-up pair of Docksiders. Coyne must work hard to make his prose read so easy.
Given Coynes centrality to the action, the only surprise, and disappointment, is that we dont learn enough about his life. His wife makes a few cameos but, like their relationship, remains in soft focus. Is she unusually independent? Supportive? Deferential? Hard to say. Money concerns are alluded to but not detailed. The back cover, and only the back cover, raises the issue of possible fatherhood. Its a credit to the writer that after four months in his company, teeing it up, drinking Guinness and running from stray dogs, we still want to know more.
"Equal parts touching, wry, and hilarious."
-New York Times
"There is no golf trip like an Irish golf trip, and Tom Coyne has risen to meet that road. I look forward to reading this again. Pack it with your sticks."
"Witty and winning...A joy from start to finish."
-Wall Street Journal
"Like the country itself, Coyne's book is an affable ramble through a charmed land."
"A Course Called Ireland explores the history of the land being traveled and pauses for tales both tall and short, as well as, in this case, for pub songs. Coyne finds plenty of all of the above from Kilkee to Kerry, the long way. Golfers reading this book may wish they'd been walking by Coyne's side."
"A delightful and fun book."
"A really good read."
-The Modesto Bee
This hilarious and epic tale follows a walking-averse golfer who treks his way around an entire country, spending 16 weeks playing every seaside hole in Ireland, and often battling through all four seasons in one Irish afternoon.
About the Author
Tom Coyne is the author of the novel A Gentleman’s Game and cowriter of the screenplay for the novel’s film version, which starred Dylan Baker and Gary Sinise. He is a contributor to Golf Magazine and teaches creative writing at St. Joseph’s University.