GOLF, IRELAND AND A GOOD READ!
We at Real Irish Golf are golf fundamentalists, but even to us, Tom Coyne’s epic walking tour around the coastline of Ireland to play the best links golf courses – plus a few more besides – strikes us as more mental than fun. It is unlikely too many of us will ever accomplish his epic feat of walking our way around the greatest links golf courses of Ireland, but flinging the clubs into a clapped out camper van and heading for the Irish coastal byroads for a month – now that’s an idea!
Coyne’s book – “A Course called Ireland” – is the best book hands down, no contest, no argument, we have come across about golfing in Ireland and we’ve read most of them. It is much more that a golf book – indeed, it is questionable whether it is a golf book at all – but rather a personal odyssey shared. An odyssey with which we can all identify and vicariously share, about adventure, identity, madness, longing, humanity, and the essence of Ireland and Links Golf too. If this all sounds too serious, don’t worry its very funny too.
This is not the book to read if you are looking for ‘Irish Golf for Dummies’ or if you want to understand how strategically to play the 2nd hole at Royal Portrush; grab a stroke-saver for that. This is the book to read if golf for you is not just about 86 strokes but as much about a feeling, a connection, a personal journey. This is the book to read if you want to excavate more deeply a connected feeling to Ireland, there but unexplained, except for lineage.
In an era when Golf courses have become too manufactured, groomed, expensive and exclusive, Coyne sought out a different time and landscape; a sport and creation that relied on the land as it lay. Golf links naturally protected by wind and rough terrain to defend itself, a time when you dropped the green fee in a box on the door, wandered out to the first tee and were joined by a few locals for a game. Perhaps we over romanticize because you certainly won’t do that in Royal Portrush, Tralee or Ballybunion anymore. Well maybe in Narin & Portnoo though.
Walking though Kerry, Connemara, the hills of Donegal, the North (that’s interesting!), Dublin and on down through the East Coast into Cork and Kerry, this book does not over romanticize (except perhaps on Old Head) and we like it even more for that. Rather it seeks to understand Ireland’s myriad of lurking contradictions, complexities, warts, humanity and all through a walking Irish links golf journey; what’s not to like! Ireland has changed again pretty dramatically since “A Course called Ireland” was written – the boom is gone, the inevitable bust followed, and hopefully is heading for the exit. But the essence of Ireland, its decency, its stories and music, its parochialism, its squinting windows, remain. And our great Links courses remain too of course, unchanged and closer to how golf was envisaged and should be. So this book is timeless and a must-read for your Irish Golf adventure, whether by foot, car or air-conditioned bus.