Golf Book Review: Tom Coyne's A Course Called Ireland
There is a word that writers are tempted to use at the drop of a hat, and speakers break it free of its restraints nearly twice as often, and that word is EPIC. Those in the know smile gently and quietly at its misuse, while those who carelessly toss it about do one day reach the stage where they recognize their linguisticly-youthful impertinence.
Having spent the better part of two weeks’ worth of evenings and afternoons traversing the circular route of Tom Coyne’s footpath and golfing journey around the island of Ireland, I am tempted to describe his journey with that special adjective. In order to be so, the word daunting must begin the conversation. Tom Coyne’s decision to walk his way around Ireland with a backpack and trim golf bag on his back could not be described aptly from my widow’s walk in any different way. Over a thousand miles, nearly a thousand golf holes, clearly a thousand stories.
A Course Called Ireland is a book that demands commitment. Unlike Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket, or any other of my recent, great reads, I wasn’t swept up in a wave of uncontrollable enthusiasm that pulled me through extra pages and chapters, into hours of the night that I had no business knowing. A Course Called Ireland demanded the temperance that author Coyne doubtless felt when tempted to add a few more kilometers to his walk, perhaps skipping a stop along the way and journeying to a subsequent town. I had to put the book down at intervals, in order to relieve myself of the psycho-physical weariness that the writer’s trip had brought to me. Remember that Coyne didn’t log those miles on an elliptical machine or a padded track; there were various weather conditions, road surfaces and hazards along the way. Daunting.
The few epic tales that I know have a transcendent moment when the protagonist realizes that she or he is truly knee-deep in it, in a perilous predicament. If you’ve seen Pulp Fiction, you remember the scene that no one talks about. It is sufficient to simply say “Remember?” and the response is simply “ohhh, yeah, don’t want to talk about it…wow.” A Course Called Ireland’s transcendent and Pulp Fiction moment are one and the same. It takes place around page 229, an appropriately prime number, a number of uniqueness. You’ll not discuss it nor will you forget it.
Beyond that little slip, the narrative wanders about an unbelievably attractive island, people, golf trail to end all golf trails, in a calculated yet carefree manner. You’ll be mesmerized by the encounters with the people and animals met in transaction, interaction, and reaction. The course descriptions will whet your palate for a trip east (or west, north or south) to play a handful of the ones trod by Coyne and his merry band of rovers. Most importantly, after some early chapter, the book will cease being literature and eventually transform into an event itself.
I hereby give in to temptation. Congratulations, Tom; it was epic.
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