The Scot’s group was put on the clock as early as the fourth hole following their 6.30am start, with the rules official staying with them for the remainder of the round.
MacDonald, who is one of the quicker players in the women’s game, didn’t reveal the identity of the person causing the concern about slow play on the opening morning at the Angus venue.
“It wasn’t me, that’s all I am saying,” said the 30-year-old Nairn woman, who was in a group along with American Sarah Schmelzel and Chloe Williams of Wales.
However, finding herself in that awful position definitely contributed to MacDonald, who had been two-under after six and still going along nicely at the turn, having to settle for a three-over 75.
“We were put on the clock from the fourth hole, so it was not ideal,” said the first of five Scots to step into action in the $5.8 million event.
“Unfortunately, it was one of those things, but it felt like I was having to run round and it’s not really what you want in your first experience of the Women’s Open.
“It’s not nice when you have a referee following you the whole way round. I did find that quite hard.
“I’m a fairly quick player. You have to try and forget about that but, when your whole group is being monitored and you have just one shot you take a bit longer over, then you are going to be penalised and that’s a tough one.”
Like Catriona Matthew and Paul Lawrie in the men’s game, MacDonald has tried to adapt to slow play being an ongoing issue in the professional tours.
“I have slowed down, but it’s the first group in the Open and you’ve got a referee there, it’s a tough one to overcome,” she added, having gone out in 34 but then coming home in 41.
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers had asked MacDonald to get the event underway after seeing her secure a spot through the Women’s Scottish Open at Dumbarnie Links on Sunday.
“It was an absolute honour to hit the first tee shot,” she said, having set her alarm at 3.30am in preparation. “So, all in all, it’s been a great day.
“It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I smashed my opening drive past the bunker and away we went, so I was delighted about the start.
“I had family and friends in the stand. That was a delight, obviously when you consider their alarm was early, too.”
Dane Emily Kristine Pedersen set the early clubhouse target with a one-under 71, having been the only player in the first six groups to break par.
Playing alongside 2019 winner Matthew, Swede Madelene Sagstrom was on course to beat that after picking up six birdies, mixed just one bogey, in the opening 14 holes.
World No 1 and Olympic champion Nelly Korda had six birdies and three bogeys in 16 holes.