by Jeff Skinner
When Tom Coyne decided to write a book on golf in Ireland he decided to go all the way. No one can say that Coyne doesn’t immerse himself in his projects. In “A Course Called Ireland” he tells the story of when he looked at all the links courses rimming the coast of Ireland he thought of playing the island as one large loop. He would start from the south east coast of Ireland and then play his way to the north and follow the coastline until he returned to the same area and finish with a round at legendary Ballybunion. Sounds like the trip of a lifetime, but the kicker here was that Coyne would walk. He would not only walk the courses, but would walk the entire trip. When I first heard of his plan I had two thoughts: He must be crazy and will soon be divorced. As it turns out only one of these is true, he still is married.
Coyne combined his love of golf and his fondness for Ireland into a unique and inventive golf expedition. He gives us a good mix of golf, Irish culture and humorous anecdotes that keeps the book from being too much travelogue or a course by course, hole by hole description of his trip. You have to marvel at Coyne’s determination and adaptability. He travelled over a thousand miles, played fifty six courses over a four month trek that saw more rain than the Amazon rain forest. He spent most nights looking for the “craic” (fun) in local Pubs and stayed in Bed and Breakfasts. He came across many varied and formidable obstacles. From the full Irish Breakfast that some days weighed him down, Irish drivers running him off the road, to dogs, sheep and cattle, not to mention the blisters and chafing in places I won’t mention. In spite all of his difficulties Coyne tells the story of a country full of fun loving welcoming people and golf courses both grand and quirky. His trip reinforced his love of unspoiled links golf and brought him many new and interesting friends. Coyne was joined by his wife and friends for some legs of the trip and one can only assume that his wife is the most understanding woman, or she was glad to get rid of her golf crazed husband.
Coyne has done a marvelous job at retelling his adventures, golf and otherwise and selling links golf in Ireland. I’m convinced and I’m of Scottish descent whose only goal was to go play golf in Scotland. I’m ready to add Ireland to my list. With all respect to Mr. Coyne, I’ll walk the links but splurge for a ride to the course.