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.
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My 2 cents is that last summer 2015 I researched playing the Old Course as part of my 60th Birthday Scotland golfing trip coming up this May 2016. Golf packagers quoted very expensive prices @ £2300+ per golfer for 3 nights @ a 5 or 4 Star St. Andrews hotel plus 3 rounds of golf, w/ guarantee of Old Course tee time. Very expensive.
After doing some digging I found I could request on the St. Andrews Links website – as you’ve written – an Old Course tee time for the following year during an open slot of August 26-September 14. It was very easy to do, but be aware that once this slot closes you’re back to the 48 hour ballot process. Please know your advanced dates (there are no changes allowed), courses and # & names of players (including handicap and home golf course). Give them a Choice 1, 2 & 3. Be very aware of all the busy dates and restrictions. Read the fine print; there’s a lot of it.
I applied on August 26 and in late October was awarded via email a tee time for Old Course and Jubilee Course May23/24. I had until Nov 30 to pay. Total for 2 golfers was £500 for the 2 rounds/courses (a fraction of the golf package price + I could choose my own hotel). Upon payment, I received an email confirmation from St. Andrews Links. Good to go.
Craig, thank you for the comment! I am always shocked at the quotes for trips from the tour companies… I think they capitalize on people simply not knowing that there are other options out there! Getting word out about other options, like doing it yourself or the Scottish Golf Trip Consulting feature on this site, is one of my main goals these days.
Great insight on the advanced booking process. That is a great value package for the three courses compared to guaranteed tee times elsewhere. Hopefully others will find your comment as useful as I do!
Mr. Loomis, we are interested in a bespoke golf trip coordinated by yourself, i.e., someone who knows the courses, pro’s, and local communities. Are you able to accommodate us? We did this in 2018 in Northern Ireland (NI Golf Tours Jonathan Lennon), stayed locally, played the great courses (e.g., Royal Portrush; Royal County Down), experienced the local restaurants and culture. We also had a great Scotsman as our driver to complement our tour operator’s planning.
Would love to hear from you personally, stay at the Apartment in St. Andrews, and play the great courses you would recommend. Thanks, Dave.
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Hi , I’m visiting Scotland from the states in November of this year . I’m staying at the old course hotel two nights along the way . What do you think my chances of getting in as a single golfer are and what time should I arrive since it’s off season?
Hi Taylor, since you’re going in the off-season, you should have pretty darn good chances! I’d still stay to get there around 5AM for a good chance in the singles line. There are never any guarantees, and getting there earlier is always better, but that should give you a good shot.
Hi Mr. Loomis
We are currently planning a trip to the play the Old Course next year, one of the golf packagers indicated that staying at the on site hotel was mandatory to use one of the guaranteed tee time. Could you please confirm this?
Thank you for the great informational videos!
I’m glad you asked – that tour operator is not correct. Guaranteed Old Course tee times are not tied to any one hotel in St Andrews. Each tour operator puts together their own packages and they must have been referring to an internal policy that is unique to them. Most tour operators have pre-existing relationships with hotels, so I assume they were trying to drive you to one of their partners.
In the future I would suggest trying to enter the Advanced Old Course Ballot in late August / early September (you may have entered it and not been successful). It allows you to try and get an Old Course tee time well in advance without having to use a tour operator.
Hope that helps! – Graylyn
If I try to get on to the Old Course as a single walk-up, is it possible to hire (rent) clubs? Arranged at The Old Pavilion or elsewhere at the facility?
Hey John, you can indeed rent clubs, but you’ll need to go down to the St Andrews Links Clubhouse (a few hundred yards from the Old Pavilion) to get the set. They’ll be able to set you up down there!
For the open course time, late Aug to mid Sept, I read that you need two players to sign up. What if you’re a single? Is there a way, other than to line up at the starter’s hut, to obtain a tee time at the Old Course?
Hi Bill, Unfortunately, you are right that singles cannot enter the ballot. The only option for single golfers is to line up at the starter’s hut early in the morning where you’ll get slotted out with a twosome or threesome. I wish there was another way!
Your site seems very helpful…much appreciate the info.
I’ll be in Scotland with my 13 y/o son and we are both single digit handicaps. I was considering making St Andrews our base camp.
We were looking at St Andrews Old, New and Castle, Carnoustie, Kings Barn….what other gems are hidden out there?
North Berwick, Gullane, Glen Eagles?
We will likely play in Iceland on a flight lay over on way to Scotland from California.
Thanks for your time,
Hi Dennis, sounds like a great trip! Other hidden gems I’d consider visiting around St Andrews are Crail, Elie, and Lundin Links. They’re all within 25 minutes of town and are worth the trip. The others you named like Gleneagles, North Berwick, and Gullane are great as well, but are further away (an hour and a half or so). Lots of options in the area, but I’d check out those three I named if you want to stick around St Andrews!
Greetings from Canada!
I’ve been trying to book a tee time online by clicking on the link you have and also on the Old Course website but all I get is “Internal server error”! Is there another link to use? Wer flying from Calgary to London on the 20 March and We’ll be arriving in St Andrews by Train from London on 21 March to golf on 22, 23, or 24 March. This is a surprise present for my husband’s 70th Birthday. We are staying at the St. Nicholas Farmhouse B & B owned by Bill and Anne My husband, Farrell’s handicap is 12 and mine is 33. Is there anything you could do to help me book, or register for a tee time? Your video was awesome and very helpful! It’s just the website link that isn’t working, and I’m starting to panic about getting a tee time. I would really appreciate anything you could do to help me out. Best Regards, Laurie McLellan
Hi Laurie, thank you for writing in! I’ve just tried all of the links on the page and I can’t seem to replicate the problem you’re having… Everything is loading correctly for me. That said, I’ve put the link I think you’re looking for below – hopefully it works for you this time! Remember that you have to enter the Old Course Ballot two days before your desired day of play, so you’re not too late. You can enter for each day you’re in St Andrews, if you want! Also, remember that you can call the St Andrews Links Trust if you ever have questions or want help entering the ballot.
Congratulations to your husband on his 70th – this will be a great surprise for him!
How difficult do you think it will be for a single golfer the first week of August? Our hotel has offered to enter my husband’s name in the ballot and he is willing to get up early to see the starter. I just don’t want to plan a trip around this if it’s a long shot. He would be very happy to play the New Course, Carnoustie, etc, but you can’t book those as a single either.
Hi Susan, It’s difficult to say with any certainty how easy or difficult it will be to get a tee time. That said, if he’s willing to get up early and line up at the starter’s hut, he should have a good shot! Obviously, earlier provides better chances and I’ve seen people get there as early as midnight. I’d suggest around 3AM, but even then, earlier is better.
From the sound of it, I’d plan on playing all of those other courses you named while leaving a day or two open for the Old Course. If your husband isn’t successful in getting on either of those days, he can play the New or Jubilee courses, which offer tee times on a first come, first served basis.
Thanks for the information! I am visiting Scotland with a friend the week of the Open and hoping to get on the Old Course Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. Do you know the stats/percentages around getting a tee time through the ballot? Is the drawing at random or do they look to see if someone has tried several days in a row vs someone that just won it the day before and is trying again?
Thank you again!
Hi Joseph, very good question. Firstly, the St Andrews Links doesn’t publish any of the numbers on ballot entries and isn’t willing to share any data with outside sources. With that in mind, it’s nearly impossible to guess with any accuracy the chances of getting a tee time through the ballot. That said, entering multiple days is certainly the best strategy. The drawing is also at random and doesn’t take into account whether someone has entered previously or won a tee time previously. You’ll have roughly the same chances each day.
Also, if the dates shift for your trip, do keep in mind that the Senior Open Championship is closing the Old Course from the 22nd to the 29th. The course is open the days you want to play, but just keep the Senior Open in mind if you think about moving things around.
Hope that helps!
My father-in-law and I are coming in from the States arriving at 825 at EDI on October 22, 2018 and will be in St. Andrews all week. Should we enter the ballot on that Monday knowing we can’t play until 11 or so on that day? We plan to go see the starter as soon as we get in town to try and get on the New or Old Course. We have secured a tee time to play Muirfield Thursday and Carnoustie (ballot closed) Friday of that week. We have Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday open to try and win the ballot as well. What do you think our chances of getting on are? What time would you recommend getting in line Tuesday and Wednesday am maybe 4 or 5 in the morning? Also, what do you think of Kingsbarn or the Castle Course as alternatives on days we don’t win the ballot? We have a car so travel is not a problem. Thanks again and great site.
Hi Brad, that going to be a great week! Very good questions – here are my thoughts:
-Definitely enter the ballot for that arrival Monday. When you enter you can specify that you can’t play before a certain time, so you won’t run the risk of getting an early morning time that you couldn’t take. Just let them know by phone or in the online form depending on how you plan to enter the ballot.
-If you enter the ballot for all of your available days, you’ll have a pretty darn good chance of getting onto the course. It’s impossible to put a number on it based on the lack of transparency, but the plan you’ve laid out will give you the best possible chances. If the ballot fails, plan to arrive at the Old Course starter around 3:30-4 in the morning to line up as singles. Earlier is obviously better, but that timing should provide you a really good chance o getting on!
-As for alternative courses, the New and Jubilee courses are great and should be high on your list. Kingsbarns is also an excellent choice and if it fits in your budget (£260ish green fee), it should be your first alternative to the Old, in my opinion. The Castle splits opinions, but I really like it. The views are second to none and the course, while tricky, is a blast. I’d recommend taking a caddie or forecaddie if you do play it. My order for alternatives would be Kingsbarns, New, Castle, Jubilee. All are great though.
I hope that helps!
Great information! I know that advanced tee times are only available Monday-Friday for the Old Course, but can you play on a Saturday for your 2nd course in the “High Season 2-course package”? We are hoping to play the Old Course on a Friday and the New Course on the following day, Saturday. Thank you!
Hi Nikki, Very good question! You are definitely able to play your second round on a Saturday at any of the other St Andrews Links courses in town. You should be good to go with your initial plan!
Just to give a little background, you’re unable to choose the Old Course on a Saturday because Saturdays are dedicated 100% to the “daily ballot” option of play. If you happen to be unsuccessful in the advanced ballot, remember that you can always enter the daily ballot, which is open to entries every day but Sunday.
Great information here. I will be travelling to Scotland in the end of April. Didn’t think the old course would be possible but reading your thread it seems it is. I will be a single. My question would be do you know estimated cost of round and clubs. Is there any way to request in advance or is my only choice to wait in singles line. Also, is the tee time for two days later?
Hi Dan, good questions! As a single your only choice is the singles line, unfortunately. If you do go with that option, you line up to play later that same day, not two days in advance. The cost of a round is £180, but it’s subject to change, so I recommend checking on the St Andrews Links website to get the exact cost at any point. As for renting clubs, you can rent at the St Andrews Links Clubhouse near the Old Course starter. It’s £45 per day and you can read more details at the link below. I hope that helps!
I’ll be in St Andrews during one of the ‘busy days’ periods this year (15th-17th September 2019). Is it still possible to get on the Old Course from the singles line during these periods? Or in the dark times?
Any feedback appreciated.
Hi Andrew, generally speaking there are no tee times available during those busy dates. The course is completely closed for whatever event is occurring on the course. Wish I had better news!
Is it possible to play the Old Course in November?
Hi Tom, yes, it is! The weather can be rough and the days are much shorter than in the summer (sunset around 4PM), but the course is open for play!
Im heading to St Andrews on the 14th and 15th of October, I land in Edinburgh at 8.20am so wont get to St Andrews until around 10. Im a single golfer so know I wont be able to enter the ballot (unless I can find someone to enter with me) that being said is it worth going to the starters box when I arrive as my air bnb is legitimately right across from the old course. Should I attempt to play on the 14th with the possibility of having to get up very early the following day to increase probability of playing the old course. That being said what time would you recommend getting to the starters box to get the possible chance? And can you also get a caddy if you go through the singles way? (have read a lot of how having a caddy can seriously help you on the round and make it a far more pleasant experience!)
thanks for your help
Graylyn: I am a single golfer wanting to play the Old Course in 2022. Knowing the Open is being hosted that year and the course is closed a month before, when would be the best time to try and secure a tee time as a single.
Chaska, MN USA