Next on the tee: A Course Called Home

I have been fortunate to visit dozens of golf clubs over the past few months, giving talks/rambles about golf and travel and promoting the Scotland book (thanks to all of you who have purchased, read, gifted, not borrowed A Course Called Scotland–the response to my latest links jaunt has been humbling).  I encounter a few questions more than others: “How did you pay for all this?” “Who made your tee times?” “Can your wife talk to my wife, please?  Seriously.  Please?” and I’m usually ready with some sort of rejoinder.

Most often I’m asked about my favorite courses, and I have a list on-hand:  Cruden Bay, Askernish, Machrihanish (Dunes and Old), Shiskine, North Berwick, Murcar, Glen, Nairn, of course everything in and around St. Andrews…  But once in a while I’ll be caught off guard with a follow-up: “How about favorite courses in the U.S.?”

I stumble, and try to hide that I’m stumped.  I’ve played some fancy and fantastic courses over here, but I know golf in Ireland and Scotland far better than I know it in my own country.  The courses I see in my sleep–they’re all over there, nestled between sandy peaks and covered in wind-bent grasses.  So when contemplating my next golf adventure, the destination grew obvious.  Thanks to all of you who suggested Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, but there was no doubt where I was headed, and where my next education lie: I was standing on it.

A Course Called Home: Searching the States for the Great American Golf Course has actually been on my mind since an Irish friend wrote to me years ago, inquiring about his upcoming golf trip to America.  He was eager to play the courses he had watched on television–Riviera, Hazeltine, Shinnecock were on his list, and he wondered if he could play Merion in the morning and make it to Oakmont for an afternoon eighteen.

I procrastinated in writing back to tell him that Pennsylvania was larger than he was imagining it; not that it really mattered, anyway.  It was hard to explain to him that he would come all the way to the States, and not have the chance to play a single course on his bucket list.  I tried to lighten my reply with lies about all the great American public courses he might sample—the ones I knew were, in truth, far-flung and expensive—but my message back to him boiled down to a rejection letter of two words: Good luck.

My travels had taught me that the golf course was a place where cultural differences and language barriers melted away around a common pursuit of par.  Yet there remained conspicuous differences between the way they played over there and we played over here—small things, like shorter flags and no halfway houses and distances measured in meters—and then large things, and largest of them all, the thing I could not explain or defend to any Irishman or Scot, was our in-hospitality to visiting golfers.  To folks from where the game was born, from the land of Muirfield and St. Andrews and Carnoustie—all revered courses happy to welcome visitors with credit cards and a handicap—nothing about our gated country club model made sense.  And the farther I traveled, the less it made sense to me as well.

And then I remembered–I didn’t have a scooby what I was talking about.  What did I really know about golf in America, its destinations, its visitor-friendly experiences? Precious little.  But thanks to my wife, who will once again be nominated for beatification this summer, that is set to change.

In A Course Called Home, I will go searching for genuine golf experiences akin to the open, affordable, locals’ golf I have so admired around the world.  I will also dig deep into the history of golf in America by begging/praying my way on to every course to ever host a US Open, along with the founding clubs of the USGA.  I’ll visit every course to even resemble a links in America, to settle my own inner-debate about true links courses on this side of the Atlantic.

I’ll play our westernmost, northernmost, southernmost, and easternmost tracks–from Alaska to Maine, Florida to Hawaii, I am determined to discover America’s most unique and inspiring golf revelations, and to locate the true American golf course.  Doing so will of course require me to figure out what American really means to us in 2018–no simple task during these divided times–but in teeing it up with folks of every color, creed, and political persuasion, I hope to figure it out on those spaces of universal accord: our nation’s tee boxes.

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I share this news of the new book (look for it from Simon & Schuster in 2021–these things take some time) not to stir envy; rather, I ask you to channel any simmering resentments into your own efforts to push this adventure forward.  Suggestions for courses to add to my list are most welcome; offers to host me at a course and help me avoid bankruptcy before crossing the Mississippi, even more so.  This course needs characters, so I invite you to join the story.

I expect to set out in mid-May, and travel the States through the fall, taking on our vast map in traveling chunks.  I’m looking for tee times on the US Open courses and the golden-goose tracks, of course, but I’m keenly interested in your local muni, your quirky go-to, your overlooked hidden gems.  I’m searching for proof that the golf joy I hunt for in the British Isles can be found right here at home; I want to tell my Irish friend that Florida in February isn’t the only reason to come visit.  You can reach me here with ideas and suggestions of the helpful sort.  The current list is below, and it seems to be growing by the hour:

Aguila Golf Course
Apple Mountain Golf Club
Arrowhead Pointe Golf Course
Arrowhead Golf Course
Asheville Municipal Golf Course
Aspen Lakes Golf Course
Atlanta Athletic Club
Bacon Park Golf Course
Ballyneal GC
Ballyowen GC
Baltimore Country Club
Baltusrol Golf Club
Bandon Crossings Golf Course
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
Bay Harbor GC
Bellerive Country Club
Bethpage Black Course
Bodega Bay Golf Links
Brackenridge Park Golf Course
Brae Burn Country Club
Brickyard Crossing
Butterfield Trail Golf Club
Cambrian Ridge
Canal Shores Golf Course
Canterbury Golf Club
Canyon River Golf Club
Cedar Crest Golf Course
Chambers Bay Golf Course
Champions Golf Club
Chastain Park Golf Course
Cherry Hills Country Club
Chicago Golf Club
City of Charleston Golf Course
Cobbs Creek
Colonial Country Club
Columbia Country Club
Congressional Country Club
Conocodell Golf Club
Copper creek golf course
Coronado Municipal Golf Course
Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne
Dinosaur Mountain Golf Course at Gold Canyon Golf Resort
Edgefield McMenamins Golf Course
Englewood Country Club
Erin Hills Golf Course
FDR Golf Club
Fireweed Meadows Golf Course
Forest Park Golf Course
Fossil Trace Golf Club
Four Winds Golf Course
Fresh Meadow Country Club
Garden City Golf Club
Gardner Municipal Golf Course
Gearhart Golf Links
George Wright
Gibson Bay Golf Course
Gig Harbor Golf Club
Glen View Club
Goat Hill Park
Gold Mountain Golf Club
Green Mountain National Golf Course
Havana Golf & Country Club
Hazeltine National Golf Club
Highland Links
Highland Park Golf Course
Highlands Golf Club
Indian Wells Golf Resort
Interlachen Country Club
Inverness Club
Inwood Country Club
Isle Dauphne GC
Kenosha CC
Key West Golf Club
Kukui’ula Golf Course
Kukuiolono Park & Golf Course
Lajitas Golf Resort
Linden Hall
Links of North Dakota
Los Verdes GC
Lost Marsh Golf Course
LuLu Country Club
Makai Golf Club
Marfa Municipal Golf Course
Medinah Country Club
Merion Golf Club
Miami Whitewater Forest Golf Club
Midlothian Country Club
Minikahda Club
Montauk Downs State Park Golf Course
Myopia Hunt Club
Neshanic Valley Golf Course
Nevel Meade Golf Course
Newport Country Club
North Shore Country Club
North Star Golf Club
Northwest Angle Country Club
Northwood Club
Oak Hill Country Club
Oakland Hills Country Club
Oakmont Country Club
Oakmont Heights Golf Course
Olympia Fields Country Club
Onwentsia Club
Palm Desert Country Club
Pacific Grove GC
Pasatiempo Golf Club
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Pelham Bay & Split Rock Golf Courses
Penmar by the Sea
Philadelphia Country Club
Philadelphia Cricket Club – Militia Hill Course
Pilgrim’s Run Golf Club
Pine Dunes Golf Course
Pinehurst Resort
Piñon Hills Golf Course
Prairie Dunes Country Club
Princeville Golf Course
Prison View Golf Course
Putnam Valley GC
Riviera Country Club
St. Andrews Golf Club
Saint Louis Country Club
Sand Hills Golf Club
Sand Hollow Resort
Sand Valley
Sharp Park
Scioto Country Club
Shennecossett Golf Course
Shepherd’s Crook Golf Course
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club
Skokie Country Club
Sleepy Hollow Golf Course
Smith Center Country Club
Southern Hills Country Club
Southward Ho
St Croix Country Club
Stone Canyon Golf Club
Sweetens Cove Golf Club
Swope Memorial Golf Course
The Classic at Madden’s Golf Course
The Country Club
The Country Club of Buffalo
The Country Club of South Carolina
The Dunes Club
The Highlands of Elgin Golf Course
The Lights at Indio GC
The Oasis At Death Valley
The Olympic Club
The Prairie Club
The Republic Golf Club
Tobacco Road Golf Club
Torrey Pines Golf Course
TPC Harding Park
Triggs Memorial Golf Course
Van Cortlandt Golf Course Clubhouse
Washington County Golf Course
Waveland Golf Course
Wawashkamo GC
Whistling Straits
Wild Horse GC
Winged Foot
William J. Devine Golf Course at Franklin Park
Winter Park Golf course
Wintonbury Hills Golf Course
Worcester Country Club
​​​​​Leslie Park Golf Course



34 thoughts on “Next on the tee: A Course Called Home

  1. If you are in Maine, I cannot recommend Belgrade Lakes strongly enough. A phenomenal course layout and staff that treats you like a member no matter what. Open to the public, always in perfect shape.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Seven Oaks Golf Course, at Colgate University. Open to the public, one of Robert Trent Jones’s first designs. The drive there will remind you of County Clare.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Can’t wait to read once you’ve completed your US tour!

    A few you could add to your list working south:

    Glen Mills, public with a good back story

    It’s been awhile since I played Bulle Rock but it was always a good one

    Caledonia on Pawleys Island

    Hampton Hall in Bluffton S.C.

    Ford Plantation in Richmond Hill, Ga. Former Henry Ford estate in terrific condition

    Have fun planning and playing, and be sure to include the Tao of Garth for a few rounds!

    John Boyer Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Let me know when you are planning to head to Washington State. I now reside in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL but lived in Washington my previous 30 years of life and would love to join you if it works out. Also, your experience at Chambers Bay will be drastically different than what you witnessed for the 2015 US Open. The views in-person are unreal, the grass is green and they have recently undergone an effort to change all greens to poa annua grass. Good luck with your adventure and I hope to hear more as it unfolds.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. If you need a stopover between Tulsa and Dallas, I would be happy to host at Twin Hills Golf & Country Club in OKC. Another great Maxwell track with a lot of history, founded in 1923. It can be a stiff walk, but it’s a lot of fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hopefully you can play the Honors Course in Chattanooga or The Golf Club of Tennessee just outside of Nashville. I am happy to host you at Old Natchez Golf Club in Franklin, TN. Can’t wait to read the book already!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Missing Blackwolf Run in Kohler, site of Women’s USOpen (Pete Dye) and Ozaukee Country Club in Mequon (Milwaukee, WI), site of the 1929 Western Open (when it was considered a Major). Tommy Armour winner, Hagen, Sarazen and Cruikshank in the field. Langford & Moreau design.


  8. Tom, you need to put Forest Hills Golf Course in Augusta, Ga on your list. It is a Donald Ross course where Bobby Jones won the Southern Amateur in 1930 to begin his Grand Slam year. He said his best golf that year was at Forest Hills. It is a public course owned by Augusta University and is the school’s home course.


    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  9. Tom: if you’re going to Onwensia on the North Shore of Chicago you must add Shoreacres and Old Elm. Great history with both courses. I can help with both.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Tom, I am the VGA State Director for PA, Would love to have you at Royal Manchester Golf Links near York, PA, We can invite Aaron, the Dog and Tim Robinson for the foursome. They take care of us vets there and its a fantastic course and layout.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You have to visit Atlantic City CC, where the term “birdie ” was hatched and that has one of the most nostalgic locker rooms anywhere in the country. Hey…it is just a morning bike ride from Broad Street ( well, maybe a short car ride ) that you could do anytime when opportunity strikes. Well worth the visit.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Tom … just Tweeted this to you. Pls add AZ Nat’l Golf Club (Tucson) to the list. Gorgeous/challenging RTJ course. Coming back from the brink. A++ design, A+ staff, B+ condition. Played twice while there on business … looking for an excuse to go back!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Azalea City Golf Course has been serving the citizens of Mobile, Alabama for over 60 years.Designed by notable architect Robert Bruce Harris, Arnold Palmer and other well-known golfers have enjoyed playing here. This course was once recognized by “Golf Digest” as being one of the top thirty-six public courses in the U.S.

    Azalea City is the first golf course I took my son, Patrick to at the age of two! Patrick grew up playing at Azalea City and your book “A Course Called Scotland” was the impetus for an epic Father/Son golf trip that Patrick and I recently took to Ireland and Scotland. We would love to host you for a round at Azalea City and at our house in historic Mobile.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. My husband and I traveled to Wisconsin last summer. We played the Irish course at Whistling Straits and the River course at Blackwolf Run. I would highly recommend. If you want to play locally, we play at Makefield Highlands GC in Yardley, PA. Usually in great shape and staff is friendly and helpful. I just finished reading A Course Called Scotland. I like it even more than I like Ireland.

    Liked by 1 person

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About Tom Coyne