The ultimate guide

st andrews old course tee times 2024 & 2025:
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.

First published: September 5, 2014
Last Updated: March 9, 2024

By Chris Toll, Ginger Beer Golf Travel

Reading Time: 19 minutes

Your guide to securing the most coveted tee time in golf

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 …

Post-COVID outlook for Old Course tee times

Each year the routes to an Old Course tee time follow a similar pattern. However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused many disruptions in 2020 and 2021 which had consequences for future year’s planning.
Whilst we have seen a return to normal levels of visitor Old Course tee time inventory in 2023, unsatisfied demand, built up during Covid, is spilling over into 2024 and beyond, with inventory being sold earlier than usual.
In fact, if you desire a guaranteed tee time, then consider 2024 to be almost fully sold out now and start to plan for 2025. You are advised to consider your Old Course tee time preferences NOW and act upon them asap.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • #1 ST ANDREWS LINKS TRUST PRIVATE ADVANCE TEE TIMES
    To catch the sweet spot of an advance 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 SINGLES DAILY DRAW
    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?

  • The application window for PATT in 2024 is now closed. You need to wait until 2024 to apply for a 2025 tee time.
  • 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, in August 2024 for play in May 2025.
  • You should make your online application to St Andrews Links Trust (SALT) on the PATT site external link icon within a 15-day window between Wed 21st August and 4th September 2024 (dates TBC).
  • 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 (mid April – mid October 2025): Minimum of 2 and maximum of 8 golfers. 2 Course Package – Old Course + a choice of 2nd course. Cost TBC (£600 per person in 2024).
  • Shoulder Season (1st – mid April & mid – 31st October 2025): Minimum of 2 and maximum of 16 golfers. 2 Course Package – Old Course + a choice of 2nd course. Cost TBC (£450 per person in 2024).
  • Single golfers may apply for a tee time mid April – 31st July 2025. Old Course + Castle Course. Cost TBC (£600 per person in 2024).
  • Each package includes a three course set dinner in the Tom Morris Bar & Grill and two buckets of 60 complimentary balls to use at SALT Golf Academy for each golfer.

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.
  • Single golfers can’t apply for a Private Advance Tee Time for August or September.

Need more information?

  • Check out FAQs and Terms and Conditions play.standrews.com
  • Check Busy dates on St Andrews Links 2024 before considering the dates you wish to play. Whilst not the exact same dates (and one-off tournaments aside), 2025 should follow a similar pattern, and you can expect the 2025 Busy Dates calendar to be published by SALT in the Summer of 2024.

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 (i.e. pre-Covid) average success rate estimate 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.
  • But, with St Andrews still experiencing a boom in post-Covid demand these rates are now likely to be overstated.

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 2024 tee time allocation in July 2023, and are almost all sold out now, 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.
  • Authorised Providers should have their 2025 monthly allocations confirmed in first quarter 2024 and actual tee time dates & times in second quarter 2024. But APs may advance sell a tee time package on the basis of a (refundable) deposit payment which secures you the right to buy the package once the actual dates, times and costs are confirmed.
  • 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. This is an especially attractive option for those who have Old Course on their once-in-a-lifetime bucket list, or maybe wish to celebrate a ‘big’ birthday with their closest buddies.
  • You can get all your trip components arranged by one expert tour operator company and also enjoy their local, on-the-ground support 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 or via tour operators.
  • Tee time packages are available on a first come, first served basis. Authorised Providers knew their actual tee time allocation in July 2023, and are almost all sold out for 2024, 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.
  • Authorised Providers will have their 2025 monthly allocations confirmed in first quarter 2024 and actual tee time dates & times in second quarter 2024. But APs may advance sell a tee time package on the basis of a (refundable) deposit payment which secures you the right to buy the package once the actual dates, times and costs are confirmed.
  • 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 14:00 two days before you want to play; for example between 14:15 Tuesday and 14:00 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 around 16.30 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.
  • You can request a caddie as part of your ballot application, or afterwards here.

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 please get in touch as I offer a personalised trip planning service to:

– Help create a strategy to optimise your chances of ballot success, using historic ballot results data (going back to 2018)
– Recommend and 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 between 2018 and 2023, the daily average chance of success in the shoulder and high season months (April through October) may be between 10% and 20%. Unfortunately, owing to the post-Covid spike in demand, it’s estimated to be at the low end of the spread right now (around 12% for 2023). You could now view a stay of 7 nights with at least 6 ballot attempts a bare minimum in order to have a greater than 50:50 chance of at least one success in the ballot.
  • To learn more about recent ballot success rates, here is my ballot results analysis for 2023.
  • 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, say, 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 2024 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 SINGLES DAILY DRAW


How does it work?

  • Finally, the Singles Daily Draw 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. Also, sometimes there are cancellations that happen on the day that will yield more opportunities.
  • Plus, there are often gaps in the early morning tee times which are reserved for locals. But, please note it is at the locals’ discretion to accept players on their tee time if they have empty slots; they are not obliged.
  • Single golfers can register in person at the Old Pavilion or St Andrews Links Clubhouse between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm on the day before they wish to play.
  • At 5:00 pm, a random draw takes place, generating a priority list of entries.
    If there are open slots on the draw sheet for the following day, the first names drawn will be notified and given a guaranteed tee time, which they must accept or decline within a specified time frame.
  • Those who are unsuccessful in securing a tee time initially will receive a waitlist number and may be contacted on the morning of play if additional slots become available due to no-shows or cancellations.
  • Locals also have the chance to turn up in person to claim any ‘Dark Times’ that are available later in the day. Any Dark Time slots unclaimed by locals by 09:00 may also get allocated.
  • 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

  • The Singles Daily Draw 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 , where you can register, is next to the putting green by the first tee of the Old Course, 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.

What are your chances of success?

  • I am often asked what the chances are of getting on the Old Course as a single golfer (without an advanced guaranteed tee time). It’s a difficult question to answer because SALT do not publish results statistics. The Singles Daily Draw replaced the overnight queue in March 2024 and the effect of this more accessible and equitable system has yet to be seen.
  • However, I have conducted some analysis on the number of single slots available on the daily draw sheet in 2023. So, although we cannot quantify the demand for single slots, we can at least see the potential supply.
  • Based on my analysis of historic data for the shoulder and high season months (April through October) in 2023, there were on average 24 single slots available each day in 2023 (16 in regular tee times and 8 in ‘Dark Time’ tee times).

Many golfers are using Ballot Buddy to find a date match with another golfer

Single golfers

I can help you find an Old Course ballot partner


I used the Ballot Buddy service and it made all the difference. I was able to play the Old Course and check it off my bucket list 

M Zarick


further resources

Need help with your Old Course tee time?

Get in touch – I can help

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