From the Journal News
written by Karen Croke
April 17, 2011
Meet Pelham author John Coyne
Last Sunday, John Coyne had more than a passing interest in the Masters golf tournament. Yes, Charl Schwartzel won in a thrilling match, but for Coyne, the sense of history and mythology that surrounds the tournament, and the course where it’s played, Augusta National, hold a particular fascination.
It’s the subject of Coyne’s latest book, The Caddie Who Won the Masters. (Peace Corps Writers, 2011).
Coyne says famed golfer Bobby Jones, who created Augusta and the Masters, had always hoped an amateur might one day win the championship. So, in Coyne’s novel, Tim Alexander, a Pelham golf pro, makes just such a run for the title and is helped on his quest by some supernatural forces - namely, a squad of departed golf stars, including Westchester native Gene Sarazen- who emerge, very “Field of Dreams”-like from the azaleas of Augusta to help Alexander win.
The novel is a fictional account of an amateur winning the whole shebang, but as Coyne says, his are “novels of information.”
So, along with a great narrative story, the book is loaded with historically accurate details about golf’s greatest legends, and of course, the lore and mythology that surround the Masters.
“I always loved golf,” says Coyne, who started caddying as a 10-year-old in his native Illinois. Although he never made the pros -”I did play for both my high school and college golf teams,” he says - the Pelham resident has found fame as an author, writing more than 25 books, including instructional books on golf, educational books and a series of best-selling horror novels.
Coyne says he always wanted to be a writer, but his first seven novels were rejected by publishers. Then he hit a genre that took off. His book, “The Piercing,” was about stigmata and the Catholic mythology.
It came out just as Stephen King’s “Carrie” was gaining notice. “And I caught that wave; I was the poor man’s Stephen King,” he laughs. Still, his next eight books, including “The Hunting Season” and “Hobgoblins,” were all best sellers.
He credits a post-college stint with the Peace Corps for shaping him into the person he is today. Coyne still works with the organization, editing a newsletter and anthologies of writers who have served.
“People join the Peace Corps for many reasons that even they don’t understand,” Coyne says. “But if you’re a writer, the Peace Corps feeds it. So much happens to you every day that is so different from your way of life. You look at yourself from a totally different point of view.”
To learn more about Coyne’s books, check out his web site, www.johncoynebooks.com
Here are 10 thing you might not know about Coyne.
1.The Pelham resident is an excellent golfer, a 7 handicap, but he eschews country club courses - like Augusta - for the numerous public courses in our area. Locally, he plays at Pelham/Split Rock Golf Course, just over the Bronx border, and at a variety of courses in Columbia County, where he has a second home.
2.He knew he wanted to be a writer ever since he was 13 years old. “Over the years, I’ve learned it’s easy to be a writer, harder to make a living at it.”
3. He has been playing golf since he was 10, but has never had a hole in one.
4.These days you can find him at the College of New Rochelle, where he has been the college’s communication officer for the past 10 years.
5.He has a definite soft spot for caddies, considering he started hauling bags at age 10 at his home course, Midlothian Country Club in Illinois. At 15, he became the caddy master at the club, which was located just across the street from his family farm.
6. He was one of the nation’s first crop of Peace Corp volunteers, traveling to Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa to teach secondary school in 1962. He made a second trip back to Africa traveling through 20 countries, and supporting himself by writing freelance travel articles.
7. The Peace Corps changed his life in many ways. “I went in to see an editor I was working with on a trade book, and I asked her out, and she said, ‘OK, but I am not going to read your Peace Corps novel.’ And she still hasn’t read it.” Coyne is married to that editor, Judy Coyne, who is the executive editor of More magazine.
8. Coyne also edits a website called Peace Corps Worldwide, where volunteers can share their experiences and keep up with what’s happening in the organization. It grew out of a newsletter Coyne created for returning volunteers in 1987. www. peacecorpsworldwide.org.
9. Before finding a career as a writer, he was hired as the dean of admission and students in the newly minted State University of New York at Old Westbury. At age 28, he was the youngest dean in SUNY history. “We were so small then, just starting out, that I guess no one thought it was surprising to have a 28-year-old dean.”
10. His favorite quote, from Ben Hogan, is this: “As you walk down the fairway of life, you must smell the roses because you only get to play one round.”