“What if I moved somewhere warm and dedicated my entire life to golf? Got a teacher and everything. How good could I get?”
Tell me you haven’t had that conversations with your golf buddies.
“I think I’m going to book a one-way flight to Ireland and play golf until I can’t play anymore.”
That may be a weekly conversation in my group chat.
Tom Coyne has lived out our golf dreams in his previous works and is back at it in A Course Called Scotland, searching high and low for the secret of golf.
Tom Coyne has become a bit of a star in golf writing and has quickly become one of my favorites, despite teaching at one of my Alma Mater’s biggest rivals. His previous works including A Gentleman’s Game, Paper Tiger and A Course Called Ireland are not just fascinating premises (Gentleman’s Game the only novel of the trio) but are written with the skill of someone that should be penning a classic that they teach to high schoolers, not writing for just us golf nuts. Coyne puts words together as an art form, to the point that I read his lead-in chapter (3 pages) to anyone that would listen, giving friends and myself goosebumps alike.
Aside from his writing superstardom TC is the perfect vessel for this story because he has experienced more golf than almost anyone on the planet. He has a links golf experience that is as deep and rich as anyone (see Course Called Ireland) and has seen the game as a competitor, casual player and writer. That experience allows him to properly frame each new experience, both on and off the course, with expertise.
TC travels to the UK first to play all the Open Rota courses and ultimately experience all golf has to offer in Scotland. The itinerary as PACKED. I got tired reading Tom’s account from the safety of my couch as he trekked though over 100 courses in 57 days, ultimately testing his game at an Open qualifier at the culmination. He plays and visits every corner of the Kingdom, checking into courses and towns that this Scottish golf fanatic has never heard of.
Tom, like myself, “believe(s) in golf’s revelatory powers”. He is searching the Home of Golf for its secret.
This is where Coyne separates himself from the pack.
Golf writing can often be formulaic or lack depth. Go play this course because it’s hosted a tournament. Tiger Woods did or said this. Your grip is wrong. Cliché golf joke. Tiger Woods did or said that.
Coyne leaves the surface level in the dust as he digs deep into golf’s place in his life and how a track of grass on a jagged coast line can mean a hell of a lot more than that. You start reading about interesting and unknown links courses and finish with a new perspective on what the game means to you, it’s not often words can move you like that.
Ultimately this book will draw you in for many reasons. You’ll pick it up because you love golf, or Scotland or golf and Scotland but you’ll put it down not just after reading about Tom’s journey, but after taking one yourself. If golf is anything more than hitting a white ball off a peg for you, you’ll love A Course Called Scotland, just as I did.
Check out Tom’s website here
And buy the damn book here