There is no coincidence that we have chosen to review A Course Called Ireland: A Long Walk in Search of a Country, a Pint, and the Next Tee on this date. What could be more appropriate?
Walking a golf course is not unusual, well, perhaps a bit more unusual in 2010 than say 50 years ago. But thinking an entire country is a golf course and walking around it creates a completely new perception. Tom Coyne’s adventure as he walked through Ireland determined to play each and every golf course in his path and dive into every pub that he stumbled across is a gem from start to finish. A Course Called Ireland is less of a golf travelogue and more of a historical and geographical stroll across Ireland with golf courses luring the magnetic point of the compass.Yes, there are tales of the courses he plays, but it is also a human interest saga and a cultural odyssey. Occasionally Coyne blends the golf and the cultural and cleverly instructs us on the missing element in American golf. This is readily seen when he relays to us a pub scene where,”Kids came into the bar and bought Cokes..., heading out to play twilight golf in their sneakers with a handful of clubs between them. He tackles this subject again on page 79 with this precise statement, “While greatness for an American golf course was granted according to how many people you could keep off it, a course's quality in Europe was determined by how many people wanted on.”
As he begins his hike from the southeast coast in a counterclockwise route, we learn of his personal physical struggles to walk the entire coast of Ireland and one man’s search for his Irish roots. The characters, the countryside and the politics are all here.
Coyne is the author of two previous books A Gentleman's Game and Paper Tiger, both volumes intimately involved with golf. His style is easy to read and incorporates a humorous self-deprecating sense of humor. A Course Called Ireland was originally published in hardcover in February 2009 and had now just been released in paperback.
Golfers will find this book interesting and non-golfers will read with fascination of Coyne’s encounters with all that Ireland has to offer. It will make golfers want to book the next flight to Ireland and set out on their own Irish golf odyssey. It will compel non-golfers to discover the rich cultural phenomenon that is Ireland.
Editor's Note: And on this St. Patrick's Day for another great Irish golf adventure you might consider Ancestral Links by John Garrity reviewed here or here.