Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Course called Ireland

A Long Walk in Search of a Country, A Pint, and the Next Tee by Tom Coyne. I would highly recommend reading this book.

This is about a married man in his early 30's who decides to "walk" around Ireland, playing all the links courses and others on his way. The journey takes him 4 months and almost 1200 miles on foot. It took 4,531 strokes , he was 636 over par, and 129 golf balls to play 56 courses.

The bulk of the book is not about golf but the trials and tribulations of his walk, the history of Ireland, and the time spent with locals in the many Irish Pubs. I especially liked how he interspersed Ireland's centuries of conflicts into the story. It gave me more insight into why the Protestants and Catholics have had issues with each other over time.

I have to admit that this is the first 300 page book I can remember finishing off in less than a week. It not only kept my interest but has gotten me fired up for a future tour of Ireland, hopefully in 2011 or 2012, to follow Coyne's path and experience some of their great Links courses. When I go I will definitely be taking motor transportation and trying to see as much as I can in only three weeks.

Speaking of Links Courses does anyone have a list of Links courses in the World? I would gladly post it here and share it. Doing some research it appears that there is not a consensus as what constitutes a true links golf course. The range is somewhere between 150-250 courses worldwide depending upon who you read. In the USA I am told that the following could qualify: Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Old Macdonald, Highland Links, and the back nine at Pacific Grove.

Update- In November, 2010, George Pepper and Malcolm Campbell came out with a book, TRUE LINKS. They feel there are 246 links courses in the world, of which five are in North America: Bandon Dunes, Cabot Links, Highland Links, Old Macdonald, and Pacific Dunes. Personally, I think they are on the high end of reality but it sure doesn't hurt book sales to include more courses than less. Interesting book and a great reference for links golf. To date I have played about 70 of the True Links courses.

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