American author and journalist Tom Coyne will be visiting the Outer Hebrides later this month, to experience some of the region’s stunning golf courses.
Working alongside VisitScotland, the best-selling golf and travel writer is currently travelling around the country on a fact-finding mission for his latest book, ‘A Course Called the Kingdom: in Search of Scotland, a Secret and a Jug.’
The book will follow Tom’s quest to master links golf in Scotland by playing more than 100 of the country’s top courses in just 57 days. And if his mission is successful, it will enable him to qualify for this year’s Open Golf Championship, which takes place at St Andrews from 16th to 19th July.
Tom’s visit to the Outer Hebrides will see him play at golf clubs in Barra, Askernish and Harris between 18th and 20th June.
Over 150 years ago, Scotland became the home of open golf when, on a windy morning in 1860, eight sportsmen stepped out onto the greens at Prestwick in Ayrshire in what was the start of professional golf as we know it today.
Since that first-ever round of the Open, it is now the world’s oldest and most prestigious professional golf tournament and one of the leading events in the global sporting calendar. Synonymous with Scotland, The Open has been played 93 times out of 143 here and it is worth in the region of £100m in combined economic and media value. Regularly returning to its Scottish roots, the championship will be back next year at Royal Troon.
In addition to commissioning Tom to write a VisitScotland post-trip blog describing the highlights of his golf tour of the country and favourite courses, the national tourism organisation has helped arrange Tom’s itinerary. It is hoped that media coverage on Tom’s mission to conquer over 100 Scottish courses, and the resultant book itself, will encourage even more visitors to come to play golf in Scotland, the home of golf.
Tom is the author of three books, the third of which, ‘A Course Called Ireland: A Long Walk in Search of a Country, a Pint and the Next Tee’ chronicled his quest to golf the whole of Ireland. The book was a New York Times, American Booksellers Association, and Barnes & Noble bestseller, and won a silver medal from the Society of American Travel Writers in the category of Best Travel Book of the Year.
Alan Mackenzie, VisitScotland Islands Manager, said: “Scotland is the country that gave golf to the world, and with more links courses than any other country it was the perfect location for Tom’s bid to master links golf ahead of trying to qualify for the Open.
“Tourism is more than a holiday experience – it creates jobs, sustains communities and provides an international shop window for Scotland. Golf is massively important to Scotland, with every £1 spent on green fees generating a further £5 on extras such as hotels, restaurants and retail.
“We look forward to welcoming Tom to the Outer Hebrides, wish him all the best with his tour and attempt to qualify for the Open, and look forward to reading his book on Scotland’s links courses, which I’m sure will encourage many more visitors to come here to experience these for themselves.”
Tom Coyne commented: “I’m really looking forward to coming to the Outer Hebrides, which has a great reputation for its first-class golf courses offering spectacular views. I just wish my visit was longer and I could stay on to not only play more golf here but also to explore the other attractions of the region. Unfortunately, my time is very limited because the clock is ticking on my 57-day challenge, but that gives me a good excuse to come back in the future to enjoy more of what’s on offer in this beautiful part of the country.”
Golf was first played in Scotland more than 600 years ago and today the country is home to more than 550 courses, 400 of which are within an hour of a city or airport. 700,000 rounds of golf are played by around 135,000 golf visitors each year in Scotland and overall it is estimated that golf tourism is worth £220m to Scotland annually, supporting around 4,400 jobs.