9. Golf provides an organizing principle for travel. Mere idle globe-trotting doesn’t appeal to me; I like a trip to have a purpose. For that reason, I enjoy traveling with children. Having kids along forces you to do things you really enjoy (buying ice cream, visiting a dungeon museum, taste-testing foreign candy) and to skip things you really don’t (going to plays, touring the wine country, looking at statues). Keeping your kids from slitting each other’s throat compels you to find activities that actually are interesting, as opposed to merely sounding like the kinds of activities that people engage in when they go on vacation. When children are not available, golf can serve a similar function. Rather than tramping aimlessly around Scotland in the hope of being moved by the differences between it and America, you tramp around Scotland checking off names on your life list of Open Rota courses.
On a golf trip, every day has the same unimprovable agenda: wake up, take shower, drink coffee, eat bacon, play eighteen holes, eat lunch, play eighteen holes, drink beer, take shower, eat dinner, go to sleep. The best golf trips, unlike the vacations that wives plan, never leave you wondering what to do next, and there is never an empty three-hour time block in which you might suddenly be expected to look at a cathedral. You don’t have to wait between lunch and golf, or between golf and beer, or between beer and shower, or between shower and dinner. When one agreeable activity ends, another begins. And on the last day, during the long drive back to the airport, you can pass the time by planning the next trip.