Golf has given us some of the best writing, sport or otherwise, to be read anywhere. The pages of our sport’s books are filled with brilliant elucidations of a game that has fascinated and gripped players for generations. And the common denominator of our greatest of writers, though they may differ in style and particular subject, is an ability to shine a light on the thoughts and feelings we’ve shared but never imagined exactly that way — words, phrases and paragraphs that move, prod, illuminate and inspire us, that make us smile or shed a tear, that linger long after reading.
So it is with Tom Coyne, an associate professor of English at St. Joseph’s University, who in 2006 seeped into our consciousness with authorship of the book “Paper Tiger” about his pursuit of Tour-level golf, and then burst full-bore into the hearts and minds of golf travelers everywhere in 2009 with the brilliant “A Course Called Ireland.”
Detailing Coyne’s journey around the Emerald Isle, every inch of it on foot, playing every links course in the country, “A Course Called Ireland” (which made it onto the New York Times best sellers list) cemented his place as a golf writer of consequence, not only for his insightful and gloriously-phrased account of the joys and struggles of links golf but for his unique and unusual ability to act as a conduit to the best parts of travel, lodging, food, drink and humanity in Ireland, all of it written with a down-to-earth style showcasing Coyne’s everyman roots. The read is as much a page-turning wonder as you’ll find anywhere about golf and travel.
Nearly a decade later, Coyne-starved readers rejoiced when “A Course Called Scotland” appeared in 2018, and it only served to enhance his reputation. This time, taking on every Open Rota course as well as each of Scotland’s links (and attempting to qualify for The Open at journey’s end), Coyne totaled 107 rounds played in 57 days, all the while searching for golf’s secret in the land where the game began. Again, his effort put him on the New York Times best sellers list. And his life since the publishing of “A Course Called Scotland” now includes not only traveling to play golf but also signing copies of the book, which has struck a nerve with golfers across the country and around the world.
EPISODE 130: Haggis and Ball-Stampers in Tom Coyne’s Emergency 9
Besides the obvious reasons, the impetus behind our desire to spend recording time with Tom (we’ll now use his first name since we’ve shared actual conversation time) on “Talking GolfGetaways with Mitch Laurance and Darin Bunch” came from the announcement that Tom is forging ahead on his next mind-boggling project — “A Course Called America: Searching the States for the Great American Golf Course.”
Realizing he knew the courses of the United Kingdom better than the courses in his native country, Coyne is turning his attention to the planning stages of a trip to each of our country’s four corners — a journey that will encompass playing all U.S. Open venues, the founding clubs of the United States Golf Association and courses that will allow him to, as he says, “discover America’s most unique and inspiring golf revelations” and “go searching for genuine golf experiences akin to the open, affordable, locals’ golf I have so admired around the world.”
In this Episode 129, we naturally touch on Coyne’s life-changing trips to Ireland and Scotland, but mostly we concentrate on his upcoming odyssey. You’ll hear details about the decision to go, the obsessive planning and logistics necessary to take on a golf pilgrimage of this magnitude, the courses (both famous and unknown) Tom wants to experience, plus what he hopes to learn and what he hopes to share with us all.
You’ll also find out what a cool, guy-next-door human being Tom Coyne is. He’s humble, funny as all get-out and possesses an off-the-charts spirit of curiosity and depth that makes him a guy with whom you’d want to share time on or off the course. We look forward to teeing it up with Tom someday soon on his Great American Quest and hope listeners and readers across the United States will join in his adventure.
—Words by Mitch Laurance