If you are a golfer and you don’t know Tom Coyne, then you’ve been living under a rock.
Coyne is a successful writer and a talented 4-handicap golfer. He hails from Philadelphia and, back in 2007, he walked around Ireland’s coastline playing every course he encountered along the way.
He wrote about the experience for the Irish Examiner and he quickly walked his way into golfing folklore.
Coyne turned those adventures into a best-selling book entitled A Course Called Ireland.
Last year he published
A Course Called Scotland —
which was widely regarded as one of 2018’s best golf books.
He is now at it again, working on a new book that sees him travelling around the United States.
To tie in with this year’s St Patrick’s Day festivities, Coyne posted his favourite 17 Irish courses on social media. “Not best or most significant,” he emphasised, but “the places I most look forward to revisiting.”
Here are those 17 courses and a quick social-media-sized-bite of why he enjoys each place.
As with any rankings there will be those of you who scratch your heads in bemusement but this is a man who loves golf courses, knows golf and revels in the joy of playing the game.
Golf is in his soul so who are we to argue?
Edge-of-the-world golf I could play the rest of my days, then spread my ashes here for good measure.
Some faraway courses feel like home.
This is one of them. Ancient clubhouse, carries over preposterous caverns, and best welcome in golf.
Where I first got hooked on golf in
Ireland. Eddie Hackett didn’t have to do much given the
biggest dunes on the island to work with.
4. Cruit Island:
Sets the standard for the oft-abused label Hidden Gem. Sets the mark for nine-holers as well. Pure wonder along the cliffs of Donegal.
This year’s Irish Open will be a must-watch to witness this Old Tom Morris/MacKenzie masterpiece of precision placement and blind-shot befuddlement.
6. Royal Portrush
: Not a soft note anywhere, no respites amid its hulking dunes.
7. Co Louth:
As wonderfully tumultuous as golf on Ireland’s east coast gets. A wild ride in the dunes.
This not-so Hidden Gem on the Ring of Kerry has water views on every swing; a shorter, friendlier golf day.
A back nine that boggles the mind; one hole more outrageous than the
: Best opener and front nine in
Ireland? For sure. Best anywhere? Possible. And back nine isn’t bad, either.
11. The Island:
The dips and turns and quirks make this one of the truly unique golf experiences in Ireland. Great people, too.
12. Royal County Down:
Frustrated me at first, but on return visits, my eyes were opened: angles, placement, beauty. Facing it fires all the neurons.
The granddaddy of Irish links; probably the course most responsible for igniting golf tourism in Ireland, and for good reason.
14. Old Head:
Not that old, maybe not even a links but there’s no setting like it in golf.
Wild holes hugging the water, then backing you up into the hillsides. Twists and turns around a gorgeous beach cove.
16. Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort:
Great to get lost in the dunes.
Nine-holer shared with livestock, greens protected with barbed wire. Pure fun.