Histories were hatched and legends born last September in County Mayo at the inaugural Coyne Cup, where Team Paddy the Caddy survived a ferocious three-day donnybrook with Team Coyne, seizing golf travel’s most coveted crystal by their fingernails. (If you were there, you might question the veracity of this account and call it an Irish blowout, but history favors the writers.)
As I handed over the cup and sat down to my plate of crow, Paddy grabbed the microphone and launched into a half-our comedy routine that I silently vowed would never happen again. Planning for Team Coyne’s redemption commenced immediately, and my full attention turned to Coyne Cup 2017 where I knew I would have a considerable home-court advantage.
After two months in Scotland trying to golf and live and drive like a local back in 2015, I was reminded of my foreignness when I had to admit I had never heard of the Mull of Kintyre, not until I found myself standing upon it. The place had inspired an eponymous song by Paul McCartney during his Wings period (he still owns a farm there) that became the bestselling UK single of all-time, until Band Aid topped him one Christmas. But I knew nothing of the Mull, other than the fact that I could not wait to get there–it had a Tom Morris top-100 links (Machrihanish) next to a new links (Machrihanish Dunes) that I had been reading about for months, all within view of a four-star hotel by American David Southworth where I would be laying my head for three whole nights. McCartney sung of the mist and sea and sunshine of this headland on Scotland’s western Kintyre peninsula, but for me its magic was its combination of stunning British Isles links with thick-pillowed, Yankee-schooled hospitality. For this traveler, it was golf’s most intoxicating recipe.
When it came time to plot the Coyne Cup’s trajectory for 2017, there was no debate–it was Mach or bust. The Coyne Cup has one rule–no wankers–and a simple ethos: a budget-friendly (it ain’t cheap, but value is high), schedule-friendly (you can make it a quick jaunt, or stay for an extension over to Edinburgh for golf at Gullane, Glen, and the history-stuffed links of North Berwick) golf trip, a celebration of pure golf experiences off the beaten tourist paths that takes golfers to the destinations I can’t help writing about. Machrihanish, Mach Dunes, and a nearby third course of Dunaverty (a shorter but total charmer of a headland links) checked all the boxes, and then added a few more. And since I had already played six rounds across them in that three-day span, advantage Team Coyne.
In partnership with Old Sod Travel, I invite you to come be a part of golf’s greatest comeback this August on the Mull of Kintyre. Most of the golfers from 2016 have thrown their caps back in the ring, but we expanded this year’s trip, and registration for Coyne Cup 2017 is now open to all comers. There is no requirement for golf ability (trust me, Coyne Cup 2016 proved this provision with vigor); come alone or bring a gang. We will even have activities for non-golfing partners or families this year (my brood will be bouncing around the hotel and the Mach nine-holer), so come one, come all. What you will enjoy on CC ’17: Three of my favorite tracks in Scotland, each for distinct reasons. The old course at Machrihanish is the best of Tom Morris, a gorgeously aged and craggy and classic links. Dunaverty is the essence of the oft-abused hidden gem, gentle on your golfing ego with coastline postcards around each corner. And Machrihanish Dunes might be the most important golf course built anywhere in the last thirty years. A model for environmentally responsible golf development, it is the only course ever built upon a Scottish Site of Scientific Interest, all of it crafted by hand. Literally. They used shovels, and mow it with sheep, and in doing so built a links the way God intended, and the way all the greats once did, sans bulldozers, a links shaped by imagination, wind, and sand.
Off the course, you will be treated to some of the best golf accommodation in Scotland at the Ugadale and Royal Hotels, the former located directly across from the most frightening opening drive in links golf (at the first at Machrihanish, bite off as much of the beach as you dare; mind the families sunbathing between you and the fairway). Team dinners, pubs, fun, new friends, ease of travel (all courses are located within a few minutes of your hotel, and all driving is chauffeured) combined with three days of Ryder Cup style competition for golf glory. And if you hit that opening drive far enough away from the beach, maybe even a Paul McCartney sighting.
If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve got to be interested. Click here and sign up. Because life is too short for ordinary golf trips.