St Andrews Ballot Buddy Service

Last Updated: June 10, 2024

Are you a single golfer and want to play St Andrews Old Course?

  • The opportunity:
    The Ballot gives golfers the chance of knowing if they have an Old Course Tee time 48hrs ahead of your play date.
  • The problem:
    Singles can’t enter the ballot on their own – 2 or more are required and the Singles Daily Draw is available just a day ahead.
  • The Solution:
    Register on my Ballot Buddy service for just £10 and enter the dates you are coming to St Andrews.
    As and when there is a date match with another single player I will hook you up so you can make a ballot application together.
  • The result:
    You will know if you have been lucky in the Ballot 48hrs ahead of your preferred date. Whether or not you have hit the jackpot, you can now make plans. If you have been unlucky you can still enter the Singles Daily Draw.

get ahead – get a ballot buddy!

REGISTER HERE

See current date match requests:

  • 4 matched golfers. A new slot will be created for subsequent registrations.
  • 3 matched golfers, 1 place remaining.
  • 2 matched golfers, 2 places remaining.
  • 1 golfer. At least 1 more match required to be eligible to enter the ballot.
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Ballot Buddy sample table

How Ballot Buddy Works

“My unique simple-to-use Ballot Buddy service helps you find an Old Course ballot partner so you and your fellow golfer are eligible to submit an Old Course ballot application together

chris Toll, ginger beer golf travel
1

Decide when you would like to play the Old Course via a ballot time.
Register up to 5 dates for just £10 on my Ballot Buddy Service.

2

Submit up to 5 dates.
I will add them to a database of other Ballot Buddy golfers looking to team up.

3

If there is a date match I will hook you up.
You are now eligible to apply jointly as a 2, 3 or 4 ball for an Old Course ballot time.

Registration is open and active

2024
26 golfers have played the Old Course this year thanks to Ballot Buddy!
– We have recently processed our 1000th registration since starting Ballot Buddy in 2019

  • Over 190 single golfers have so far registered more than 460 dates with Ballot Buddy for 2024-5
  • Over 175 (90%+) have already found at least one Ballot Buddy and can therefore enter the ballot
  • In 2023 over 93% of those registered found at least one Ballot Buddy

230 Old Course ballot applications were made possible by Ballot Buddy in 2023
75 golfers were successful and played the Old Course

230 single golfers have played the Old Course since 2019, thanks to Ballot Buddy

Don’t miss out!

Questions?

Do I need Ballot Buddy?

YES – if you are a single golfer without an advance guaranteed tee time.
WHY? Because there must be at least 2 golfers on an Old Course ballot application.

What if I score a date match?

As and when you get a date match with a second golfer (or more, up to 4 in total) I will connect you to your Ballot Buddy via email introduction.

What happens next?

It’s down to you and your Ballot Buddy from this point forward.
Submit a joint ballot application by 14:00 hrs, 2 days before you wish to play.

More than 4 golfers with a date match?

The first 4 golfers by registration date will be grouped together. Then the next 4, and so on.

No match or failed in the ballot?

  • You can still use the Singles Daily Draw available the day before your chosen day of play, with a random draw made at 5pm the same day. 
  • Chances of play that day are reliant entirely on gaps on the draw sheet and the number of singles in the draw..
  • At a glance review tee time availability today, tomorrow and in 2 days for over 20 of the best local courses using Last Minute Tee times

I answer more of your queries for Ballot Buddy and the Old Course Ballot below –  Frequently Asked Questions

Jay, a single golfer, played the Old Course, thanks to Ballot Buddy, and then used Last Minute Tee Times to play Crail – a local ‘gem’ where tee times are scarce.

Ballot Buddy Success Jay N Aug 2023

Jay N August 2023, USA

Just wanted to write a note and say THANK YOU for your awesome service.
I successfully matched 1/3 entries for the Old Course and had an incredible time with people from Australia, Canada, and Germany, wow.
On the third and final day, after being turned away at Jubilee and New because of member play due to perfect weather, I sat on a bench outside the Links Clubhouse, and used your last minute tee times service and found a surprise availability at Crail Balcomie, where I’ve always wanted to play, and which has been booked solid for weeks. Sunset golf … what could be better!

Ballot Buddy HISTORY & success

2023

384 golfers registered 852 dates
95% of golfers found at least 1 date match
75 golfers played the Old Course!

2022

221 golfers registered 537 dates
93% found at least 1 date match
38 golfers played the Old Course!
** DESPITE course closure for the Open and pent up demand caused by COVID

2021

200+ requests from 80 golfers
25% date match rate
26 ROUNDS PLAYED ON THE OLD COURSE
** DESPITE Covid restrictions

2020

57% date match rate
11 ROUNDS PLAYED ON THE OLD COURSE
** DESPITE Covid travel restrictions & course closures

2019

Ballot Buddy launched
350 requests
80% date match rate
50 ROUNDS PLAYED ON THE OLD COURSE

Read more about your chances of play using the walk up option in my in-depth report on the Single Golfer at St Andrews

reviews

Read what some of our clients have to say about their Ballot Buddy experience on Facebook:

Ballot Buddy success - A Litke April 2023

Adam L April 2023

I had the fortune of traveling Scotland with friends and family recently, however, none were golfers! I figured I would be out of luck on playing the Old Course due to the ballot restriction of 2+ applicants – that is until I found Chris’s website and the ballot buddy. Chris was extremely helpful and prompt in email help even prior to me applying for the ballot buddy. I was only available for 1 day of my trip, and I got matched immediately. Our group grew to a full 4-ball after a short period of time and, after application (which Chris helpfully reminds you of via automated emails), we were selected to play the Old Course! It was a dream come true and something that would never have happened without the Ballot Buddy service. The level of help and interaction you get for such a low cost is amazing – I recommend to anyone that doesn’t have playing partners for their trip. Thank you again, Chris and Gingerbeer Golf, for the great experience and helping me check a bucket list item off! 

See Ballot Buddy in action:

A four ball first for Ballot Buddy!

Bill, George, Todd, Matt
May 2022

All 4 joined my Ballot Buddy service I hooked them up, and this was my first all-Ballot Buddy 4-ball to get a tee time in the ballot.

Frequently Asked Questions

Ballot Buddy

Single golfers are not able to apply for a tee time in the Old Course ballot. Ballot Buddy puts single golfers in touch with each other so that together they can make a joint ballot application for an Old Course tee time.

Ballot Buddy costs £10 to register. This allows you to register up to five Old Course play dates that you’d like to enter the ballot for. Six to ten dates cost an additional £10. If you are planning a long stay in St Andrews and wish to register more than ten dates, please contact me for prices.

You register your details and submit up to five potential play dates. If a date you submit matches a date another single golfer has registered, then I will send a date match email alert to both of you, sharing each other’s contact details. You then get in direct contact with your match – your Ballot Buddy – and decide who will make your joint Old Course ballot application when the time arrives.

No, not necessarily. You can have a different Ballot Buddy for each day you have a date match. Furthermore, for any date that you have a match you can have up to three other Ballot Buddies. Up to four golfers can apply together for a time in the ballot so potentially I will add more golfers to your group until there are four of you; at which point your group will be closed and you will make your ballot application as a foursome.

No, I just hook single golfers up who share the same preferred play dates. It’s down to you and your Ballot Buddy to make the ballot application directly with St Andrews Links Trust.

Register on Ballot Buddy all the days you are available to play to get as many date matches as you can (a date match is when at least one other single golfer has registered the same date as you). 

The way the ballot is drawn, if you limit your availability on your ballot application you will limit your chances of success. So to maximise everyone’s chances Ballot Buddy assumes you are available to play at any time on any day that you register. 

However, I still suggest you register the day on which your time is limited, but submit your group ballot application without any time limitations attached. If you are successful in the ballot and are offered a time which happens to be within your play window, then everyone wins. If you are successful but the time offered is outside your play window then your Ballot Buddies still get to play, even if you are not available. This is the fairest way to give most people the best chance of success.

You are receiving a warning because you are registering at the last minute (less than 3 days before your preferred play date).

Ballot applications must be submitted by 2:00pm 2 days before your play date. So please be aware that there is only a limited amount of time available to process your registration and hook you up with your Ballot Buddies before the ballot application window closes.

Your Ballot Buddies may have already submitted an application, or the ballot may have already closed. 

Please see: “I’ve registered at the last minute; I have a date match, but my Ballot Buddies have already submitted a ballot application” below for more information.

The ballot closes strictly at 14:00 two days ahead of play date. If they have entered the ballot and the window to apply is now closed there is unfortunately nothing that can be done. 

If they have entered the ballot but the application window is still open then you should give them the required details (your name, home club and handicap) as soon as you receive the date match email from me sharing their contact details. 

You should then ask whoever submitted the original ballot application to call St Andrews Links Trust (SALT) on +44 1334 466666 and ask them to add your details to the application. This frequently happens and is standard procedure for SALT. 

However, please understand that at such short notice it may not always be possible to complete this process in time.

Sure. Just let me know and I will update the database. Also, as a courtesy to them, be sure to let your Ballot Buddies know that you are not available to join them on your ballot application. 

However, if your withdrawal leaves a single golfer unable to make a ballot application, then as a courtesy to that single golfer, you should consider not withdrawing but instead proceed to make a ballot application. If your joint ballot application is successful, you do not have to turn up and play, and you won’t get charged. You just need to tell your Ballot Buddy that you don’t intend to play. And with the ballot result coming out 2 days ahead of play, you may still find a way of altering your plans again so as to make that tee time.

You could continue to apply in subsequent ballots and if successful have the luxury of deciding which date you prefer to play. You may have a preference based on the time of your tee time, or the weather forecast maybe. If you’re happy with your original tee time and prefer to withdraw from future applications just let me and your Ballot Buddies know.

However, if there are only two of you matched on a given day, such that your withdrawal would leave a single golfer unable to make a ballot application, then as a courtesy to that single golfer, you should consider not withdrawing. If you are successful a second time you do not have to turn up and play, and you won’t get charged. You just need to tell your Ballot Buddy that you don’t intend to play. Then again, you might decide having played the course once that you’d like to play it once more!

When you check in with the starter (20 minutes or so before your tee time) simply tell him that your playing partner is unable to join you.

There are many genuine reasons why someone doesn’t turn up – they could be ill or injured, they could be called away in an emergency, they might not like the weather forecast, the tee time might be too early/late, they may have got another time in the ballot, they may have played it before and decide they don’t feel the need/want the expense of playing it again. Their absence shouldn’t prejudice your ability to play.

Keep trying, it costs nothing to enter! The more days you enter the more chance you have of getting lucky at least once.

You’ll know two days ahead if you have been unsuccessful. You could use the Singles Daily Draw, available the day before your chosen day of play, with a random draw made at 5pm the same day.

Otherwise, since there may be many other disappointed golfers, hurry to book a last-minute tee time at another course. Ginger Beer offers a free to use service which identifies up to date tee time availability at the best local courses when the ballot results come out, allowing you to click-through to make a booking. Check out Last Minute Tee Times

St Andrews Old Course Ballot

It’s a lottery that is drawn two days ahead of play to allow golfers without an advance tee time the chance of playing the Old Course. There are two types of ballot: open and local. The open ballot is for golfers visiting St Andrews whilst the local ballot is restricted to local ‘Links ticketholders’ and therefore unavailable to the public. Ballot Buddy offers you the chance to apply in the open ballot.

It’s available most days of the week but never on Sundays when the course is closed to the public. Check other dates when the ballot is unavailable or partially restricted by checking out the busy dates calendar hereso you avoid registering dates that are unavailable.

It costs nothing to enter the ballot. You only pay if you are successful in the ballot and you turn up on the day of play, when you pay the green fee to the starter.

You can enter as many days as you wish, regardless of whether you have already been successful or not. But take note, you can only apply once each day; if your name appears on more than one ballot application on the same day then all your applications will be voided (along with the names of anyone else on your applications).

There are no official figures provided by St Andrews Links Trust. I have done my own analysis and in pre-Covid normal years (2018 & 2109) it was on average around a 1 in 5 chance of success. In 2022, with more golfers returning post-Covid and the course closed for a month owing to The Open, there was greater demand and less supply. So, by my estimation, it was on average more like a 1 in 10 chance of success.

Yes, absolutely. It costs nothing to enter and the more days you enter the more likely you are to be successful at least once. There is no prioritisation, so you have the same chance as anyone else of having your application card picked out. Get lucky in the ballot and you get to play the Old Course two days later for the standard green fee rate of just £295 in 2023 high season.

Theoretically there may be a slight advantage in applying as a 2 ball, as every alternate tee time that a two ball gets picked on may get filled with another two ball. But, in my opinion, it doesn’t make a significant difference what size your group is. All successful cards are drawn at random from the same pile so if your card gets picked and you are a three or four ball you will be allotted the next available tee time and if you are a two ball, you may be allotted two remaining slots on an earlier tee time or the next available tee time. 

You can apply direct to St Andrews Links Trust. Details here.

You need to apply two days ahead of play, before 14:00. For example to play on a Thursday you should apply in the window from when the ballot opens around 14:15 on Monday and before it closes at 14:00 on Tuesday. You do not have to apply immediately the ballot opens as it is not first come, first served.

Ballot results are published around 16:30 the same afternoon, a few hours after the application window closes. You can view results here.

further resources