The ultimate guide

st andrews old course tee times 2022 & 2023:
4 ways to guarantee success

Securing a St Andrews Old Course tee time can be a complicated and confusing process.
It requires more than a call to the reservations department, a click of a mouse or a tap on a tablet to book your tee time.

Your guide to securing the most coveted tee time in golf

By Chris Toll, Ginger Beer Golf Travel

First published: September 5, 2014
Last Updated: March 1, 2022

Don´t be put off

Your reward will be the chance to stand in the shadow of the R&A clubhouse and tee it up at golf’s most iconic location, following in more famous footsteps as you navigate your way around 18 holes of pure golfing history.

With this simple guide you can decide the best route to take to get you onto that first tee, with the starter inviting you to “play away now please”.

A WORD OF WARNING
Many tour operators, travel agents and intermediaries may claim to have access to a guaranteed Old Course tee time. In reality they may deliver no more than assistance to give you the chance of a guaranteed tee time in a lottery, without the certainty that you require to plan your itinerary.

Read on and I will show you 4 ways to get a tee time, which will include both lottery and firm guarantee plus a bonus ‘belts-n-braces’ 5th way.

But first an update …

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • #1 ST ANDREWS LINKS TRUST PRIVATE ADVANCE TEE TIMES
    To catch the sweet spot of a guaranteed tee time at close to the regular green fee rate, you can make a direct application for a Private Advance Tee Time (PATT) to the Reservations Team at St Andrews Links Trust (SALT).
  • #2 GOLF TOUR OPERATORS
    I work with a select group of golf tour operators who combine the different components – tee times, accommodations, transportation, non-golfer options etc. – and offer them to you in one customised package, including your guaranteed Old Course tee time.
  • #3 LOCAL HOTELS
    St Andrews Links Trust helps to promote local tourism business by granting a small number of tee times each year to hotels and guest houses in St Andrews.
  • #4 DAILY BALLOT
    If you have been unlucky in obtaining an advance guaranteed tee time then the daily ballot is for you. The ballot is a lottery based allocation of Old Course tee times by St Andrews Links Trust.
  • #5 WALK UP
    Finally, this is one further way to get on the Old Course if you have no success in the ballot.
  • FURTHER RESOURCES
    More in-depth analysis to help you plan your perfect golf trip.

Looking to plan your golf trip and want to play the Old Course?

Get in touch – I can help

#1 ST ANDREWS LINKS TRUST PRIVATE ADVANCE TEE TIMES (PATT)


How does it work?

  • You should make your online application to St Andrews Links Trust (SALT) on play.standrews.com external link icon within a 15-day window between Wed 18th August and 1st September 2021 (dates TBC).
  • You have to be organised and ready to submit your application before early-September in the year prior to when you wish to play; so, for example, by 1st September 2021 for play in May 2022.
  • However, if your application is successful you will then have the luxury of planning your golfing itinerary, accommodations and transportation around your Old Course start time at your leisure.
  • SALT will send you an email mid to end October either confirming your tee time or advising you that you were unsuccessful.
  • High Season (18th April – 16th October 2022): Minimum of 2 and maximum of 8 golfers. 2 Course Package – Old Course + a choice of 2nd course. Cost TBC (£340 per person in 2020).
  • Shoulder Season (1st – 17th April & 17th – 31st October 2022): Minimum of 2 and maximum of 16 golfers. 2 Course Package – Old Course + a choice of 2nd course. Cost TBC (£240 per person in 2020).
  • Single golfers may apply for a tee time 18th April – 31st July 2022. Old Course + Castle Course. Cost TBC (£340 per person in 2020).

Notes

  • You’ll need to have a lead golfer apply on behalf of your group and in the high season the maximum number of golfers accepted in one group request is eight; minimum two.
  • Handicap restrictions – 36 maximum for both men and ladies.
  • There is a minimum two course policy when booking the Old Course between April and October which requires golfers to book and play at least one other St Andrews Links Course in addition to the Old Course – Castle, New, Jubilee, Eden or Strathtyrum.
  • You can’t play the Old Course at the weekend. Private Advance Tee times are only available Monday to Friday. Saturday play is by daily ballot only. The course is closed Sunday.
  • You can’t apply for a Private Advance Tee Time for September.

Need more information?

What are your chances of success?

  • Owing to the high demand for the Old Course it is unfortunately not possible to offer all applicants a tee time.
  • SALT does not publish official data on success rates.
  • The normal average success rate is around 15%.
  • As high as a 30% success rate in low demand months at the start and end of the high season (eg April and October), when the days are shorter and the weather less settled.
  • High season peak (eg August), down to as low as a 5% success rate.

Successful?

Congratulations! Now you can start to create a perfect golfing itinerary around your Old Course tee time.

Contact me if you require help and advice on your golfing options and local accommodations and I can suggest some great golf in the area, and a rundown of my favoured accommodations.

Not successful?

Contact me if you require help and advice on your golfing options and local accommodations and I can suggest some great golf in the area, and a rundown of my favoured accommodations.

Or, if you wish to have the chance of securing a tee time at the regular green fee rate, but without a cast-iron guarantee of success then follow the daily ballot route below.

#2 GOLF TOUR OPERATOR


How does it work?

  • Some operators, known as Authorised Providers, have agreements in place giving them access to a limited number of guaranteed Old Course packages from St Andrews Links Trust (SALT).
  • I work with a select group of operators who combine the different components – tee times, accommodations, transportation, non-golfer options etc. – and offer them to you in one customised package, including your guaranteed Old Course tee time.
  • Tee time packages are available on a first come, first served basis. Authorised Providers knew their actual tee time allocation in July 2021, and are almost all sold out for 2022, but you may be able to secure a package by way of a cancellation or travelling at the start or end of the season when the weather is less predictable.
  • So the earlier you get in touch to discuss your requirements with me the better chance of being offered an Old Course time that suits.

Notes

  • Prices are significantly more expensive than going the DIY route above, but by using a tour operator package, you are paying a premium to enjoy the certainty of a tee time so that you can book your time off work, flights etc. many months in advance.
  • You can also enjoy local, on-the-ground support provided by the tour operator company to ensure your vacation runs smoothly.
  • You can’t play the Old Course at the weekend. Authorised Provider times are only available Monday to Friday. Saturday play is by daily ballot only. The course is closed Sunday.
  • The R&A hold their Autumn Meeting during September which means the Old Course is closed to visitors on many days. Accordingly, with it still being a favourable month for golf travel, September tends to be the most difficult month to source an Authorised Provider Old Course tee time.
  • Authorised Providers enjoy an allocation of tee times from St Andrews Links Trust on the condition that they are sold in a package that includes local accommodations. They are NOT permitted to sell Old Course tee times alone.

#3 HOTELS


How does it work?

  • St Andrews Links Trust helps to promote local tourism business by granting a small number of tee times each year to hotels and guest houses in St Andrews.
  • Qualifying premises, also known as Authorised Providers, receive an allocation of times based typically on their number of bedrooms.
  • St Andrews Links Trust helps to promote local tourism business by granting a small number of tee times each year to hotels and guest houses in St Andrews.
  • Venues combine the tee time with their own accommodations and sell the package direct to the public.
  • Tee time packages are available on a first come, first served basis. Authorised Providers knew their actual tee time allocation in July 2021, and are almost all sold out for 2022, but you may be able to secure a package by way of a cancellation or travelling at the start or end of the season when the weather is less predictable. So the earlier you get in touch to discuss your requirements with me the better chance of being offered an Old Course time that suits.

Notes

  • The quality of accommodations can vary between properties, as do the terms and conditions that each establishment apply. For example, some properties make their tee times available only through tour operators or intermediaries like Ginger Beer Golf Travel, or have a minimum stay requirement.
  • You can’t play the Old Course at the weekend. Private Advance Tee times are only available Monday to Friday. Saturday play is by daily ballot only. The course is closed Sunday.
  • The R&A hold their Autumn Meeting during September which means the Old Course is closed to visitors on many days. Accordingly, with it still being a favourable month for golf travel, September tends to be the most difficult month to source an Authorised Provider Old Course tee time.
  • Authorised Providers enjoy an allocation of tee times from St Andrews Links Trust on the condition that they are sold in a package that includes local accommodations. They are NOT permitted to sell Old Course tee times alone.

Need more information?

#4 DAILY BALLOT


How does it work?

  • If you have been unlucky in obtaining an advance guaranteed tee time then the daily ballot is for you. The ballot is a lottery based allocation of Old Course tee times by St Andrews Links Trust that takes place two days before your desired date of play.
  • Organise yourselves into groups of two to four players, so that if you are picked you fit into a tee time.
  • You can either call St Andrews Links Trust or apply online external link icon before 2pm two days before you want to play; for example before 2pm Wednesday to play on Friday. (Please note there is no play on the Old Course on Sunday).
  • Ballot results are available onlineexternal link icon, by phone and displayed in the St Andrews Links Trust Clubhouses from 4.30pm the same day.
  • For successful applications, payment is made just before play at the starter’s hut by the Old Course first tee, where your handicap card will be checked.
  • Here is how you enter the ballot and check results: Ballot guidelines external link icon

Notes

  • There must be a minimum of 2 players to make a ballot application. If you are a single golfer then please see my date match Ballot Buddy service below.
  • You cannot make name changes after you have submitted your application, and will be disqualified if multiple applications are made.
  • You must include your handicap and home club information in your application and, if successful, will be asked to show proof to the starter prior to your round.

Need help?

  • The ballot is a fair and democratic way to allocate Old Course tee times to local and visiting golfers who do not otherwise have an advance guaranteed tee time.
  • Many golfers choose to visit St Andrews anyway, without an Old Course guarantee.
  • If you are keen to visit the home of golf but do not have a guaranteed time then get in touch and I can:

– Help you with you a ballot-friendly strategy
– Organise an appropriate itinerary which allows you multiple attempts at the Old Course ballot
– Book quality courses which offer flexibility and/or low cancellation penalties if you have to rearrange or cancel owing to ballot success.

What are your chances of success?

  • I am often asked what the chances of ballot success are. I always reply that it is known as a lottery for good reason.
  • As a very general rule of thumb based on my analysis of historic data in 2019 & 2018, the chances of success in the shoulder and high season months (April through October) are likely to be just over 20% or around 1 ballot card application in 5.
  • If you want to dig deeper into the results stats to see historically the best months, days of the week and group size for ballot success, then read my detailed analysis and tips for improving your chances of success in the daily ballot.
  • There are two variables which determine the probability of success – demand and supply.
  • There is nothing particularly scientific you can do to predict probable demand on any given day (though obviously an August day at the peak of the high season is likely to be more in demand than one in April), but at least with supply you can get an idea of when the course is likely to be busy and ballot times are available but restricted, or not available at all.
  • Check for busy dates in 2022 when there is no ballot (marked as NB) here: Busy dates on St Andrews Links

Top Tip: There are no advance guarantee tee times on a Saturday, so there tends to be more ballot times available that day compared with other days of the week.

Planning your golf trip and want to know how to maximise your chances of ballot success?

Recommended reading:

I guide you through when to travel – the best months, weeks, days and how long to stay. Based on my unique analysis of over 18,000 historical tee times.

#5 WALK UP


How does it work?

  • Finally, the walk up option is one further way to get on the Old Course if you have no success in the ballot.
  • St Andrews Links Trust will keep a few slots available to single golfers and walk ups. Also, sometimes there are cancellations that happen on the day that will yield more walk up opportunities. 
  • Plus, there are often gaps in the early morning tee times which are reserved for locals, so sometimes it pays to get up super-early to get towards the front of the line. But, please note it is at the locals’ discretion to accept walk up players on their tee time if they have empty slots; they are not obliged.
  • To have your best chance, arrive early in the morning and queue down at the Old Pavilion by the Old Course on the day you wish to play.
  • When the staff arrive (at 6am in the Summer) give them your name. They will endeavour to fill any gaps in the daily tee time schedule (ex ‘Dark times’) from the list of walk ups.
  • Then, local ticket holders have until 9am to claim any available Dark time tee times. So at 9am staff will offer any remaining slots on Dark time tee times to golfers on the walk up list.
  • For successful applications, payment is made just before play at the starter’s hut by the Old Course first tee, where your handicap card will be checked.
  • Here is how you check the ballot results which show the unfilled slots on the draw sheet each day: Ballot results

Notes

  • Remember to turn up ready to play, with your shoes on and your clubs slung over your back!
  • This strategy of walking up, prepared to play, is particularly recommended if you are a single golfer who is not eligible to enter the ballot. Please also see my ballot date match Ballot Buddy service below.
  • The Old Pavilion is open from 6am each morning in the Summer for the benefit of Old Course golfers. There are snacks, hot and cold drinks, toilets and free wi-fi. There is a bag drop too and an information point for visiting golfers.
  • Relax inside and await your tee time. It is next to the putting green by the first tee of the Old Course, just steps from the starter’s box. Read more and take a tour of the Old Pavilion here 

What are your chances of success?

  • I am often asked what the chances are of getting on the Old Course as a ‘walk up’. It’s a difficult question to answer because SALT do not publish results statistics.
  • However, I have conducted some analysis on the number of single slots available on the daily draw sheet over two recent, normal (i.e. non-Covid) years – 2019 and 2018. So, although we cannot quantify the demand for single slots, we can at least see the potential supply.
  • As a very general rule of thumb based on my analysis of historic data for the shoulder and high season months (April through October) in 2019 & 2018, there were on average 31 single slots available each day in 2019 (18 in regular tee times and 13 in ‘Dark Time’ tee times) and 25 single slots available each day in 2018 (16 in regular tee times and 9 in ‘Dark Time’ tee times)
  • If you want to dig deeper into the results stats to see historically the best months, days of the week and group size for single slot availability, then read my detailed analysis and tips for improving your chances of play as a walk up / single golfer.

Need help with your Old Course tee time?

Get in touch – I can help

Please note:
Availability is limited and Terms and Conditions apply.

St Andrews Old Course tee times in 2022 &2023 – 4 ways to guarantee success September 5, 2014