Author: Callum Taylor, Managing Director, Golf Concierge Scotland Ltd, Edinburgh.
The first question asked by many golf tourists planning their trip to Scotland, The Home of Golf is, “How do we get a tee time on the Old Course?”
The good news is anyone with a suitable handicap of 36 or below for both men and women can technically play The Old Course as it is open to the public.
The Old Course is one of seven public courses in St Andrews which is managed by the charitable St Andrews Links Trust, one of the largest employers in St Andrews. The Trust do a superb job in promoting the game of golf and have over the last 20 years greatly modernised and improved the towns golf facilities.
To many The Old is simply the most iconic golf course in the world and will host The Open Championship from 10-17 July 2022 for a special 150th Anniversary staging.
However to many others when viewing on television and even when walking the fairways themselves The Old Course can appear uninspiring with its wide open and flat terrain. In fact, the locals often rate their favourite course as The New for its tighter and more defined fairways.
During his first visit when competing in the 1921 Open Championship, Bobby Jones even picked up his ball and walked off The Old at the 11th hole, disillusioned after taking four shots to escape a bunker. However, he returned to St Andrews in 1926 for the Open Championship and won and over time grew to love the subtleties of The Old course. The 10th Hole is named after Jones, with the only other icon named hole being the 18th, in honour of the founding father of golf, Tom Morris.
For its place in the history of golf, the 1st tee shot nerves, course features including Hell Bunker, The Road Hole, Swilcan Bridge and The Valley of Sin, no trip to Scotland is complete without a round of golf on The Old.
In the last few years we’ve had clients take the most popular routes with the ballot, guaranteed packages and roll ups proving popular.
Here are a few methods to help get that illustrious tee time on the Old Course:
The Old Course Ballot
The Old Course ballot commonly referred to as the lottery will keep you on edge.
Golfers can submit their entries up to 2pm two days before the date they wish to play either by telephone or on the St Andrews Links Trust website. (minimum 2 player entry)
- Player Name
- Home Club
If successful, golfers will find out later that afternoon and simply pay the £195 green fee directly to the starter.
If unsuccessful, ballot golfers are offered tee times on The New, Jubilee, Eden or Castle Courses.
Buy property in St Andrews
Golf Place in St Andrews is regularly attributed as being the most expensive street in Scotland with an average house price of £1.975 million. Here is the good news! Residents in St Andrews can apply for a Links Ticket which provides access to the seven St Andrews courses for a yearly fee of only £240.
If you don’t mind playing from a fairway mat it is much easier to secure an Old Course time in the low season from November – March.
Play in The Dunhill Links
The Dunhill Links Pro-Am Championship is a magnet for professionals and some of the biggest names in the sports, entertainment and business world.
The Dunhill Links is played every Autumn over The Old Course, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie. Amateurs can only play in The Dunhill by invitation. Occasionally places are auctioned off to raise money for charity. Handicaps are rigorously checked. More information can be found online: www.alfreddunhilllinks.com
Attend St Andrews University
Students who study at Scotland’s oldest university can apply for the The Links ticket which allows them to play The Old Course.
Guaranteed Old Course Package
These can be purchased as part of a minimum 4 night hotel and golf package from authorised providers. The only catch is golfers can expect to pay upwards of £3,500pp based on sharing a room to secure a guaranteed old course package. When you consider the cost of an Old Course green fee is £195 in peak season with suitable 4 night lodgings and additional golf at around £1,000-1,500, golfers taking this route have had their tee time hiked up by approximately 300% to guarantee their slot. Worth it? Well yes if money is no object.
We know some trusted authorised providers who will offer the best possible value and a high level of service.
Old Course Single Roll Ups
There is no advanced option for single golfers to book a tee time on The Old Course. Be prepared for an early wake alarm call and turn up at The Old Course pavilion on the day of play. In the past we’ve had groups of 4 who have been lucky and secured late afternoon tee times. Golfers will be tired after all the hanging around but the adrenaline rush of securing your place will more than compensate and adds to this unique experience.
Episode 4 from The No Laying Up Scotland Golf Travel Podcast will take you through The Old Course roll up experience.
Old Course Private Advanced Tee Times (PATT)
Usually this PATT process opens in late August until early September to request Old Course dates for next year’s season. Results are communicated by October. It’s a great way to do it and secure an Old Course 2 round package time with 1 additional course choice from The New, Jubilee, Castle or Eden.
Join a golf club in St Andrews
Becoming a member of The Royal & Ancient Golf Club, The New Golf Club, The St Andrews Golf Club, St Andrews Thistle Golf Club or The St Rule Club will allow you as a member to play your medals on The Old Course. Members of these clubs usually need to be Proposed, Seconded and go through an application and interview process. So time to get your name in now. However, as these are all non-course owning clubs, members are still required to become a Links Ticket Holder to gain playing rights to the seven links courses.
For more information on golf packages to St Andrews and the rest of Scotland visit our website: www.golfconciergescotland.com