Getting a tee time on the St Andrews Old Course isn’t the easiest or most straightforward process. In this post I break down the various methods to secure a tee time that include one lesser-known option!
The Old Course Daily Ballot
The ballot is a random drawing to determine a given day’s tee sheet on the St Andrews Old Course. Golfers hoping to play must enter the ballot before 2PM two days before the desired day of play.
There are three ways to enter the ballot. The first is to call the St Andrews Links clubhouse (+44 (0)1334 466666) to enter over the phone. The second method is by visiting the Links clubhouse in person. The third is entering online. In all cases, you must enter as a twosome, threesome, or foursome, and you must submit the information below:
– The names of each golfer in the group. These names cannot change or be swapped once a tee time in secured.
– The home club and handicap of each golfer in the group. If you don’t belong to a club, just name the course that you most often play at home. As for handicaps, men must have a 24 or lower and women must have a 36 or lower. If you are successful in the ballot you will likely be asked to present your handicap card at the starter’s hut prior to teeing off.
The ballot results are published at 4:30PM on the day that you entered. You will know two days in advance whether you were successful in securing a tee time. The results are published at this link.
As for the chances of getting a tee time, there is a lot of demand during the summer months. My advice is to spend a few days in town with open days for entering the ballot. During the off-season, the ballot typically doesn’t fill up and securing a tee time is relatively easy. More general information about the Old Course Daily Ballot can be found here.
Advanced Old Course Tee Times
The best way to secure St Andrews Old Course tee times is through the advanced Old Course tee time ballot.
The St Andrews Links opens a ballot during the last week of August and first week of September (10AM BST on Wednesday, August 23 until midnight on Wednesday, September 6 2017 for bookings in 2018) which takes entries online for visiting groups. You are able to stipulate a date range that you’d be available to play the Old Course and you must enter the names and handicaps of each group member on the application. For the first time this year, single golfers are able to apply for advanced tee times on the St Andrews Old Course as well.
After the entry period closes, names are drawn ballot-style for advanced tee times on the Old Course. The results are sent out via email around the middle of September.
Prices and stipulations, such as the requirement to play another St Andrews Links course in addition to the Old Course, are available here.
Lining up as a single golfer
Singles cannot enter the ballot, but they can join a list to fill in twosomes and threesomes throughout the day. A typical summer day only has 10-15 openings for singles, so often a line forms at the Old Course Pavilion (the building next to the putting green and first tee) very early in the morning. People line up as early as 12AM or 1AM. If you want a good chance in the summer, I wouldn’t get there later than 3:30AM. Once the starter arrives around 6:30AM, he takes names on a first come, first served basis and will tell you when to come back to fill an opening. To address common questions:
– If you are told that there is an opening later in the day, you are able to leave and come back once your name is on the list. You don’t have to stand around all day.
– You cannot send one person to hold places in line for a group. One person in line equals one name added to the list.
“Dark times” are slots after normal tee times end during which locals can go out and play. If all else fails and you aren’t able to get a tee time through the ballot or singles line, visit the starter at the end of the day and ask if you can have a Dark Time. If locals haven’t taken all of the times, you may get lucky! The only negative here is that you still have to pay the full green fee, knowing you may not finish due to lack of light. In the long summer evenings you may finish with plenty of light, but outside of June and July it may get dark by the 15th or 16th holes.
Golf tour companies also have access to guaranteed Old Course tee times. They typically bundle these as part of packages sold to customers. They can be very pricey – often around $1,000 for a guaranteed tee time on the Old Course. If you want to go this direction, I suggest Perry Golf or Haversham & Baker as two very good options. The price tag may very well be worth it to ensure you have the tee time!
Getting tee times on the Old can be initially confusing, but I hope that this post has cleared up some of your questions. If you have any other questions, or are thinking about planning a trip of your own, have a look at the Scottish Golf Trip Consulting feature on the website. It is designed to provide golfers with an alternative to the traditional trip planning options!
As always, you can also email me for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.