3 Differences for Playing Golf in the British Isles

Most golf etiquette is pretty standard around the world. But there are a few subtle differences for Americans or Canadians who are heading across the pond to play. Here are a few tips for preparing yourself that you should be aware of when you head to Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, or Wales.

You’re expected to walk the course.

While golf carts (or buggies, as they’re known across the pond) are gaining some popularity at newer, American-style resorts, most of the courses in the British Isles are meant to be walking courses. This makes the game a little bit more thoughtful as you walk the landscape and enjoy the scenery, and it also adds a small amount of extra cardiovascular exercise. Of course, if you are unable to walk due to health conditions or a disability, many courses will make an exception. But overall, we recommend you plan to walk unless you absolutely cannot do so. (We’ve made lists of which courses provide golf carts for Scotland and Ireland and Northern Ireland, in case you’re wondering.) Luckily, links courses are generally laid out to be exceptionally beautiful and provide breathtaking views of the natural countryside, so you won’t mind the walk at all.

You’re expected to play as long as the course is open, regardless of weather conditions.

If you didn’t know, the British Isles are not known for being sunny and beautiful golf destinations. Instead, the weather conditions can be downright dreary, regardless of what time of year it is. It’s not as bad as a sun-loving Florida golfer might expect — Carnoustie, for instance, gets quite a bit of sunshine throughout the year, and St. Andrews gets about the same amount of rain each year as we do here in Austin. Still, when it’s not nice, there aren’t rain checks (or wind checks or fog checks) at Scottish or Irish courses, and you’re expected to play through unless the course is completely unplayable (and their definition may be different from yours). Our best advice is to pack your rain gear and add a few layers to your normal golf getup and plan to enjoy the scenery.  

The pace of play is faster.

In the U.S., you can often plan on five hours — at least — for a round at your local daily fee course. At most of the courses in Europe, you should plan to be done in four hours at the maximum, and three and a half hours is the expected local pace for those hidden gem courses that are off the beaten path. This doesn’t mean you can’t snap a picture or two (which you’ll be especially inclined to do while you’re walking these bucket list courses), but ready golf should be employed and you don’t need to be Tiger Woods and examine your putt from five or six different angles.

Generally, you can expect the same sort of rules at a golf course in the British Isles as you do at home in the U.S. We’re happy to help you plan the golf trip of your dreams and give you tips about caddies, golf carts, and other ideas. Get in touch today for a free quote!