Tom Coyne’s Favourite Courses
I’m delighted that following on from my series last year on ‘favourite golf courses’ I am able to share the choices of some more of the most interesting thinkers in golf.
First up is Tom Coyne. Tom has written two of the most celebrated golf books of recent years in ‘A Course Called Ireland’ and ‘A Course Called Scotland’. These books go far beyond mere golfing travelogues and get to the heart of the part golf can play in your outlook on life. If you haven’t read them yet I would definitely encourage you to do so. Tom also writes for various golf publications – his articles in The Golfer’s Journal are a particular delight.
Many thanks to Tom for his thoughts. Scotland and Ireland dominate, but one famed American course makes its first appearance in a ‘favourite courses’ list!
You can see all of the previous ‘Favourite Courses’ selections here.
CARNE, BELMULLET, IRELAND
Some courses just hit you right in the gut, as soon as you step on the property. Carne does that for me every time. Whether it’s the people, the hulking dunes, its remote setting, the genius Eddie Hackett design, it’s a place I could go round and round and round. Some courses just feel like home, and Carne is like that for me.
Picture – www.carnegolflinks.com
ASKERNISH, SOUTH UIST, SCOTLAND
Some folks could leave Askernish wondering why they travelled so far to play such an unadorned golf course, and I get that. But Tom Morris’s lost course, to me, is a genuinely spiritual experience. It’s a time capsule, a trip back in history. It’s for the soul-seekers, but if you happen to be one, you won’t find another place like it in golf.
Picture – askernishgolfclub.com
CRUDEN BAY, SCOTLAND
Cruden Bay is total golf joy to me. Maybe the biggest dunes in Scotland, quirky routing, great people. If you don’t care for blind shots, it’s probably not the course for you. But I’ve played a lot of links golf, and the courses can tend to look the same. Not Cruden Bay. It’s wild, weird, and gorgeous.
Picture – www.crudenbaygolfclub.co.uk
ARDGLASS, NORTHERN IRELAND
I don’t think I get a better welcome anywhere in golf than I do at Ardglass, where the members have become dear friends over the years, so the hospitality certainly has something to do with my opinion here. But the course is a blast as well, with holes hanging off the cliffs and over the ocean. And with a 14th century castle for a clubhouse, what is not to love?
Picture – ardglassgolfclub.com
SHISKINE GOLF AND TENNIS CLUB, SCOTLAND
Maybe the perfect golf course – not for its layout, necessarily, but for its number of holes. A dozen feels like the ideal number of holes for a round of golf, and at Shiskine they are twelve stunners played over and around inexplicable rock formations.
Picture – www.shiskinegolf.co.uk
The first course I played in Ireland, and the place where my links love affair began. So there’s plenty of nostalgia in this pick, but I also add it here for having the largest dunes in Ireland – or anywhere, perhaps – that you roll through via Eddie Hackett’s inspired routing. I love everything Mr. Hackett did, because he did it without moving earth, and he worked for pennies so that the local communities might prosper via golf. And Enniscrone is among his finest work for sure.
Picture – www.enniscronegolf.com/
AUGUSTA NATIONAL, USA
I’ve heard some call Augusta overrated in terms of its design, saying it gets too much credit because of the Masters. Maybe so, but I don’t always judge a course by its design metrics; I judge it by the quality of the day I spent there. And the day I was fortunate to spend at Augusta was an all-timer.
CRUIT ISLAND, IRELAND
I lovenine-holers with character, and Donegal’s Cruit Island easily sets the mark for me; its sixth over cliffs and beach and crashing waves might be the best par-3 I’ve ever played, and the other holes hug the rocks and water as you smile your way along the quick routing. I love a course that surprises, and stumbling upon Cruit Island in yonder Donegal was the surprise of my golfing life.
Picture – www.cruitislandgolfclub.com
NORTH BERWICK, SCOTLAND
My first time around North Berwick, all I saw was rain blended with my tears. But I have been back a few times since, and I’ve learned what all the fuss is about – and I can’t agree more. Beyond its architectural significance, the holes at NB are just a pure blast to play. If you don’t walk off with a big grin on your face, than you need to get your face fixed.
THE OLD COURSE, SCOTLAND
Maybe its a little flat. Maybe some of the holes are tough to remember on your first go around. Maybe you have to know its history to understand what makes it so great. But no matter – no day in golf feels more special than a day on the Old in St. Andrews. From first tee to final putt, it’s goosebumps all the way around.
UK Golf Guy Review
A big thanks to Tom for sharing these. Next up will be journalist, author and golf course history aficionado, Tony Dear.