Pace of Play on Scotland Golf Courses
...Underlying it all is a sense of what a round on the course should be. For Scots, it is primarily to play golf. Conversation is common, but secondary to the game and therefore is brief and never interferes with play. Scots wonder about our tendency to stand and talk after exiting a green and before moving to the next tee.
Other things not directly related to the game are much less common on Scotland golf courses compared to those in America. Scots shake their heads at our desire to take a picnic onto the course with us. Why would you want to play golf with a sandwich, beer and pretzels in your hands? Their prototypic view of an American golfer is a fellow lounging in a buggy (an electric cart) with a hotdog in hand and a beer in the holder below the steering wheel. Scots, of course, are no strangers to beer and sandwiches but they prefer to indulge after the round, in the clubhouse. There they will talk, laugh, drink and eat for as long as any American would like. Such companionship is, in fact, as much a part of the golf experience for Scots as is the time on the course. But, the time on the course is for golf, not activities that they feel belong in the clubhouse.
The style of competition preferred by Scots also contributes to brisk play. When golfers are engaged in a match-play competition and total strokes don’t matter, it is common to concede putts instead of holing them out. You often hear a Scot golfer exclaim “Put it in your pocket” after his opponent has chipped his third shot to within 14 inches, especially if he is lying five at the time. Why play out if the outcome, who will win the hole, is not in doubt? This even extends to matches. I have seen local members walk in from the 17th hole at the Old Course and St. Andrews after a match was decided on the 16th green, leaving the last holes unplayed. Why play those last two holes if you are three down? Of course, this might not have been the action of visitors who had written a 18 months earlier to secure a tee time and then paid the over $230 green fee for non-members. But the point is made that the style of competition that Scots love tends to speed their game up.