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A Course Called Ireland: A Long Walk in Search of a Country, a Pint, and the Next Tee Hardcover – February 19, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 311 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham Books; 1 edition (February 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592404243
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592404247
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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.

More About the Author

Tom Coyne is the author of the novel A Gentleman's Game, which was named one of the best 25 sports books of all time by The Philadelphia Daily News. He wrote the screen adaptation of the novel, which starred Gary Sinise, Philip Baker Hall, Dylan Baker, and Mason Gamble. His second book, Paper Tiger: An Obsessed Golfer's Quest to Play with the Pros was released June 2006, and was an editor's pick in Esquire Magazine and USA Today, and a summer reading selection in The New York Times. His third book, A Course Called Ireland: A Long Walk in Search of a Country, a Pint, and the Next Tee, was published by Gotham Books in February, 2009, and it chronicles his quest to walk and golf the whole of Ireland. The book was a New York Times, American Booksellers Association, and Barnes & Noble bestseller, and won a silver medal from the Society of American Travel Writers in the category of Best Travel Book of the Year. He has written for Golf Magazine, Golfweek, Sports Illustrated, and numerous other publications. He earned an M.F.A. in fiction writing from the University of Notre Dame, where he won the William Mitchell Award for distinguished achievement. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two daughters, and he is an assistant professor of English at St. Joseph's University.

Customer Reviews

If you have played golf in Ireland: Read this book.
Robin Olin
In reading the book one learns Irelands history, culture, geography, courses, and pubs while chuckling through Mr Coynes descriptions.
Jim
It's a rare non-fiction book that can make you laugh out loud as often as this wonderful story does.
M. Troske

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Brian Fantana on February 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Tom Coyne has not added to the landfill of ho-hum Irish travel and golf books. Rather, he has penned 300 pages of interesting, and often hilaroius, insights gleaned from walking more than 1,000 miles in the land of his great-grandparents with golf clubs strapped to his back.

While golfers will find plenty to love in Coyne's four-month quest to play every one of the Emerald Isle's links courses, the rest will laugh at his run-ins with mountain goats, Irish sausage and the British Army while gaining a better understanding for a people who have drawn the short straw throughout much of history.

Whether he's negotiating a sideways rain with a 6 iron in his hands beside the Irish Sea or sitting at a dinner table with distant cousins he has never met, Coyne relays all the redeeming and regretful aspects of his journey with disarming honesty and great feeling.
"A Course Called Ireland" is a pleasure to read and I recommend it highly.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Sylvester J. on March 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was marvelling to my mother the other day about how Tom Coyne has had three books published by major publishers, and he hasn't even sniffed his 35th birthday. That in itself is a huge accomplishment, but what really sets him apart from other young writers is that his writing and the maturity with which he expresses ideas and emotions have improved with each book.

Disclaimer: I'm a golf fanatic, so I pre-ordered the book. However, if you're hoping for a traditional golf book, you might be disappointed. This is a book about life on the road, the Irish people, the changing (or maybe not changing, depending on how you interpret Coyne's observations) culture in Ireland, Irish history, and what one can accomplish if he sets his mind to it and puts one foot out in front of the other. Golf is the vehicle that drives all of these other things, and Coyne makes sure that golf nuts get their share of anecdotes about the 50+ courses he plays. He digs into many of the courses enough to make the reader extremely envious.

I don't know what this kind of book is officially called. It's not a travelogue, a memoir, or a documentary. The only phraseology that sounds appropriate is "vicarious literature." Coyne goes out and creates an unique experience, and then the reader gets to relive it through him with the added bonus of his reflections after he has removed himself from the experience.

Without giving away the ending, I'll say that the surprise finish actually choked me up a bit. It's possible that the Irish sentimentalism he describes throughout the book is contagious.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. Regan on March 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
With his third published effort, Tom Coyne continues to grow as an observer and storyteller, this time taking his audience for an enjoyable - and insightful - walking tour of the entire perimeter of Ireland.

Though the cohesive theme is golf, this is not a typical "golf book", as evidenced by my wife's enjoyment of the book, despite her complete disinterest in golf. Tom Coyne spends an appropriate amount of time on the golf courses to appeal to the golf-interested reader, but also shares his "tales from the road" in such a way that even the non-golfing reader is thoroughly entertained.

Walking the entire route produces a thoroughly rewarding experience, and the author does an excellent job of immersing his reader in the Irish experience at every stop along the journey. Even when describing some of the challenges of the road - wild dogs, narrow bridges, military exercises, and the poorly chosen "Bog Road" - this book feels more like a rewarding walk down a finishing fairway, putter in hand.

This is a fast-moving read, littered with numerous "chuckle-out-loud" moments. It's a must for anyone traveling to Ireland - golf or not - and a should-read for just about anyone else regardless.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M. Troske on March 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Coyne's latest book is easily the most fun I've ever had reading about golf, maybe even more fun than playing the game! But to be sure, it is much more than a golf book. This almost absurd idea to trek around Ireland on foot would certainly make for an interesting book concept on its own, but told in Coyne's poignant, witty, self-deprecating, and heartfelt style, this book is utterly enjoyable to anyone - be they golfer, Irish, dreamer, or simply fans of a great story. I finished the book in just two days, disappointed to reach the end. It's a rare non-fiction book that can make you laugh out loud as often as this wonderful story does.

Coyne's writing comes across so effortless, yet void of pretense, that you truly feel and wish that you were experiencing the journey with him - as physically and mentally torturous as it obviously was!

I challenge anyone to read this book and not simultaneously wish that they were golfing, vacationing in Ireland, and wondering more about their own heritage and craziest dreams.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Horace Tortoise on September 1, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're considering reading A Course Called Ireland, Paper Tiger, or Gentleman's Game, here is what you need to know: Tom Coyne studied writing at Notre Dame and attempted to play on their golf team - turned out he was better at writing, proven by his first book - A Gentleman's Game, turned into a movie starring Gary Sinise, Phillip Baker Hall, and Mason Gamble. Mason went on to play the lead role in finally producing a film of Golf in the Kingdom(1972)- the best selling golf novel of alltime (and shot at Bandon Dunes). Tom's next writing project required he spend a year attempting to improve his golf enough to make it thru Q School and earn his tour card - then write about the experience. Paper Tiger was a joy to read and must have been a dream experience to live. A Course Called Ireland was based on this simple premise: I'll walk the entire perimeter of Ireland, carrying my clubs and all that I need on my back with one pair of Keen hiking shoes - and write about it. He journeyed inland, entertained visitors, broke out and traveled small parts by car, but all in all, lived and wrote an incredible story that, like his other books, puts his reader in a place they would otherwise never experience and it's done with great skill, humor, self-deprecation, and incredible passion for golf. If you like Michael Bamberger, James Dobson, or Curt Sampson - you're going to like reading Tom Coyne very much. Enjoy.
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