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Every golfer dreams of making a pilgrimage to the British Isles, and it sometimes seems as though every golfer is in fact making that pilgrimage, especially when you're trying to book a tee time. The legendary courses of Scotland and Ireland are magnificent shrines, but their fame has obscured the greatness of the golf to be found all across the landscape of England and Wales. From the heathland in the north and center to the linksland on the coasts, England and Wales present an extraordinary variety of great golf experiences. In All Courses Great and Small, James W. Finegan treats the reader to a countries-wide survey of these golfing delights -- some famous, like the Open Championship venues of Royal Birkdale, Royal Lytham & St. Annes, and Royal St. George's; some well known, like Sunningdale, Wentworth, and The Belfry; and some gems that have long been hidden in plain sight, like The Addington (in suburban London) or Southport & Ainsdale (not ten minutes from Royal Birkdale). There are as many outstanding courses in England and Wales as there are in Scotland and Ireland combined, a shocking fact that is easily explained: While Scotland has 5.2 million people and 550 golf courses, and Ireland has 3.5 million people and 400 courses, England and Wales have 50 million people and more than 2,000 courses. Finegan provides a charming guide to the courses and the towns, the inns and the eateries to be found along the way. He highlights the best of the not quite four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire; gives advice about lunch after your round at Sandwich; raises a cup of grog at Gog Magog; and tackles the playing and pronouncing problems posed by Pwllheli. He gives full due to the best-known places such as Rye, Wentworth, Hoylake, and the royals, but he also declares such lesser-known treasures as St. Enodoc, Silloth-on-Solway, Southerndown, and Pennard to be every bit as worthy of your time and attention. His books on the courses of Scotland and Ireland, Blasted Heaths and Blessed Greens and Emerald Fairways and Foam-Flecked Seas, have become invaluable companions to thousands of travelers; All Courses Great and Small is an irresistible and even more essential addition to the touring golfer's shelf and suitcase.
Every golfer alive knows that he or she has two ancestral homes: one's own, and Scotland. On her rolling shores the game of golf had its origins, and to walk the links of St. Andrews is to feel at one with the shepherd who decided one day to see how far he could whack a stone with his crook. Most serious golfers will make the pilgrimage to Scotland, to try to hit the Postage Stamp green at Troon, to trace the footsteps of Ben Hogan at Carnoustie, and to brave the challenge of the Road Hole at St. Andrews; all golfers dream of taking such a trip. For the tourist or the dreamer, there can be no better guide than James W. Finegan. A passionate advocate of the game that's played on the links between land and sea, Finegan combines a writer's eye, a historian's knowledge, and a golfer's sense of wonder and apprehension to provide an impossibly ambitious grand tour of golf's native land. In a loop of a thousand miles that begins in Edinburgh and ends across the Firth of Forth in St. Andrews, Finegan covers some sixty courses, visiting the true shrines of the game, the courses that are well known and respected, and the little-known gems you might otherwise pass right by. He shares the history of the courses, both of their creation and of the most famous matches played there; he also writes marvelously about the scenic and strategic charms to be found as you play them yourself. And he provides all the information you need to make your arrangements to do just that -- because, unlike most championship courses in the United States, the great courses of Scotland are available to the public. In addition to his delightful descriptions of the golf to be found there, Finegan gives us his recommendations for places to stay, ranging from the most modest bed-and-breakfast to the most magnificent castle hotel. He describes the pleasures to be found off the beaten track: the spectacular views from a country road, or the ancient cathedral that's worth a stop on the way to the first tee. And because all the travel within the country is done by car, he spells out the actual routes from town to town and course to course. Blasted Heaths and Blessed Greens is a book to be read, to be savored, and to be tucked away in your suitcase when you finally undertake the journey of your dreams.
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