St Andrews Old Course tee times 2020
4 ways to guarantee success

A GUIDE TO SECURING THE MOST COVETED TEE TIME IN GOLF

By Chris Toll, Ginger Beer Golf Travel

SECURING A ST ANDREWS OLD COURSE TEE TIME IN 2020 CAN BE A COMPLICATED AND CONFUSING PROCESS. SADLY, 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.

St Andrews Old Course Tee times Guaranteed - Trevor & Tony

But don’t let that put you 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, and in conjunction with my free golf travel planning assistance, 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.

Table of Contents

If you are looking to plan your next golf vacation to Scotland right now, and prefer the certainty of your St Andrews Old Course tee time guaranteed, then get in touch to discuss itineraries and to request my assistance.

#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 to the Reservations Team at St Andrews Links Trust.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

  • You should make your online application on play.standrews.com within a 15-day window between 21st August and 4th September 2019.
  • You will receive an email mid to end October either confirming your tee time or advising you that you were unsuccessful.
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 4th September 2019 for play in May 2020.

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.

High Season (20th April – 18th October 2020): Minimum of 2 and maximum of 8 golfers. 2 Course Package – Old Course + a choice of 2nd course. Cost £340 per person.

Shoulder Season (1st-19th April & 19th-31st October 2020): Minimum of 2 and maximum of 16 golfers. 2 Course Package – Old Course + a choice of 2nd course. Cost £240 per person.

Single golfers may apply for a tee time 20th April – 31st July 2020. Old Course + Castle Course. Cost £340 per person.

Note:
  • 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 – 24 maximum for men, 36 for 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 info?

Tee times will be allocated randomly by a lottery rather than a first come, first served basis, so you do not need to apply as soon as the window opens.

What next?

You will receive an email mid to end October either confirming your tee time or advising you that you were unsuccessful.

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

me for 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.

Unsuccessful?
Don’t worry. You may get a second opportunity in early January when any unused start times are resold. But there is no certainty of suitable inventory becoming available in January.

So if you are keen to secure that guaranteed start time right away then follow the golf tour operator route below.

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#2 GOLF TOUR OPERATOR

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.

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.
  • Tee time packages are available on a first come, first served basis. Authorised Providers will know their actual tee time allocation in June 2019, but you can secure a package beforehand. 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.
Note:
  • Prices are 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.
  • 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.

To discuss your St Andrews Old Course tee time options (timings, numbers, golf preferences etc.) and I will source your guaranteed St Andrews Old Course tee time package for you.

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#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.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

  • Qualifying premises, also known as Authorised Providers, receive an allocation of times based typically on their number of bedrooms.
  • 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 will know their actual tee time allocation in June 2019, but you can secure a package beforehand. 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.
Note:
  • 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.
  • To get a flavour of the different accommodation options have a look at the official site for the Hotel and Guesthouse Association of St Andrews.
  • 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.
  • 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.

If you’d like me to secure your tee time through a qualifying accommodation venue (or are merely contemplating going in that direction) please contact me at Ginger Beer Golf Travel.

I offer planning advice and assistance in obtaining your Old Course booking and arranging the rest of your golfing itinerary, with recommended options for golf courses in St Andrews and the surrounding area.

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#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 that takes place two days before your desired date of play.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

  • 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 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 online, 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

Note:
  • 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 BallotBuddy 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.
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
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.
WILL YOU BE SUCCESSFUL?

I am often asked what the chances of ballot success are. I always reply that it is known as a lottery for good reason.

But, as a very general rule of thumb based on my analysis of historic data, the chances of success in the shoulder and high season months (April through October) are likely to be around 22% or around 1 ballot card application in 4 or 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 in 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 available ballot times are restricted or not available.

Check for busy dates in 2020 when there is no ballot (marked as NB) here: Busy dates on St Andrews Links

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.

Read my detailed analysis and tips for improving your chances of success in the daily ballot.

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#5 WALK UP

Finally, there is one further way to get on the Old Course if you have no success in the ballot.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

  • 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 from the list of ‘walk ups’.
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 would 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.

Note:
  • 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 see my ballot date match BallotBuddy 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

Single golfers

I can help you find an Old Course Ballot Partner

New for 2019 !!

Use my BallotBuddy service to find a date match with a second golfer

Improve your chance to play

It’s free and easy to use

Playing the Old Course as a Single Golfer : Your Chances of Play as a ‘walk-up’
Availability of Tee Times – a unique and in depth analysis of the data

Further reading:
Playing the Old Course: Frequently Asked Questions

Need help securing your Old Course tee time?

If you want to plan your next golf vacation to Scotland and prefer the certainty of a guaranteed Old Course tee time just fill in the enquiry form and let me put your itinerary together, along with your accommodation and transportation; leaving you to relax and look forward to the golf break of a lifetime.

Tee times for 2020 are selling fast; so please get in touch NOW!


‘St Andrews tee time’ enquiry form

Book with Ginger Beer Golf Travel and
secure your tee time now.

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

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