Reader’s Notebook, 7/2/19

My reading pace has slowed a bit in recent weeks. The two books below go back to our trip to San Diego, so it looks like I finished just three books in June. Time to get back on my usual pace, I guess…

Paper Tiger: An Obsessed Golfer’s Quest to Play with the Pros – Tom Coyne
A Course Called Scotland: Searching the Home of Golf for the Secret to Its Game – Tom Coyne
With these two, I finished reading all of Coyne’s current golf writings.1 Paper Tiger was his first non-fiction book, and covered his training to attempt the PGA Q-school, the final step in getting your tour card.

Coyne was a decent golfer, a high single digit handicap when he began, but knew he had lots of work to do just to get a shot at Q-school. With that in mind, he basically turned his entire life and all his savings and credit card limits over to the game. He stopped working, moved to Florida, trained with coaches, played in local competitions, wrangled his way into some equipment sponsorships, and looked to be well on track before a major health scare sent him off the rails. In the end, he couldn’t garner enough competitive results to earn a chance at the American Q-school, but he did give the Canadian, Latin American, and Australian Q-schools runs, only to come up woefully short. There is, however, a nice ending as he ties the end of his golfing endeavor to the beginning of a new chapter in his life.

A Course Called Scotland mirrors his A Course Called Ireland: he plays his way around Scotland, with some side jaunts into England and Wales. Where he walked the circumference of Ireland, though, here he rents cars, buys seats on airplanes, and otherwise uses modern travel conveniences in his second trip. And this time his goal is to play every course that has hosted an Open Championship, ending with a qualifying round for the 2017 Open. He also has the goal of finding the “meaning of golf” through his travels. He admits he has no idea what this could mean, but seeks it in the lands where the game as we know it began.

Where his Irish trip was a mostly lighthearted romp, his account of his Scottish trip is heavier. Through the book he shares how he had become sober since traveling to Ireland. In a late chapter, as he revels on the “lost course” of Askernish, he reveals just what his alcoholism nearly cost him. It is a pretty affecting chapter.

Coyne is a fine writer, thus these read better than most golf books. They’re not high literature, but are good ways to spend a few evenings if you are into golf.


  1. He is working on his next, A Course Called America and is currently playing his way around the US.