From Publishers Weekly
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. (Feb.)
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Take the standard golf memoir, in which a dewy-eyed golfer rhapsodizes his way around the great links courses of Ireland or Scotland, and meld it with the extreme travel book, in which a slightly crazed soul attempts some form of outlandish trek, often involving sports (I Golfed across Mongolia, 2006), and you have something like this peculiar but thoroughly enjoyable account of one man’s attempt to turn the whole of Ireland into a golf course. Coyne, author of Paper Tiger (2006), about his failed attempt to qualify for the PGA Tour, decided he needed to take the ultimate golf trip before settling into the responsibilities of parenthood. Like John Garrity in Ancestral Links (2009), Coyne chose to visit Ireland, the land of his ancestors, but unlike Garrity and numerous others, he eschewed the usual creature comforts of traveling golfers. No, Coyne made the entire coast of Ireland his golf links, walking all the way from course to course around the circumference of the country. An outlandish premise, to be sure, and the resulting account hurts the reader’s feet almost as much as it did Coyne’s. The numbers say it all: 963 holes played over four months at 635 over par, with 129 lost balls. Naturally, there are anecdotes aplenty to spice the on- and off-course frustrations (encounters with livestock and disbelieving locals dominate). Unlike other golf memoirs rife with accounts of idyllic shots hit in the gloaming, this one is not liable to inspire much envy in homebound hackers. Except, perhaps, for the pubs: Coyne visits nearly as many watering holes as he does water holes, and his play-by-play of pub life is every bit as entertaining as his recollections of purely hit five irons.