For many, getting a St Andrews Old Course tee time is the ‘holy grail of golf’. With that billing, it’s no surprise therefore that getting a guaranteed tee time well in advance of your visit is considered the hottest ticket in golf. But with a variety of different ways of securing a visitor tee time available, it isn’t always straightforward and it can be a frustratingly complicated and time consuming process.
St Andrews tee times – Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)
Old Course tee times and playing in St Andrews in general raises a wide variety of queries with my clients. I try to answer the most frequently asked questions here:
How can Ginger Beer Golf Travel help?
As a Golf Travel Specialist with expertise in St Andrews & Scotland I can quickly establish what options are available to you.
I can help match, where possible, your preferred travel dates with remaining tee times, together with accommodations, transportation, non-golfer options etc. – and offer them to you in one customised package.
I also offer a bespoke research service to assist with your trip planning.
As a Golf Travel Specialist with over 20 years of St Andrews expertise I can help quickly to establish what options are available to you.
What impact has Covid-19 had on golfers and St Andrews Old Course tee times?
I have a dedicated report on Covid-19.
I assess its impact on golfers and Old Course Tee times in general in 2020 and 2021 (updated Aug 2020)
How does the St Andrews Old Course tee time system work?
There are several ways to secure a St Andrews Old Course tee time:
- #1 Private Advance Tee Times
You can make a direct application to St Andrews Links Trust in the year prior to when you wish to play.
- #2 Daily Ballot
The ballot is a lottery based allocation of Old Course tee times by St Andrews Links Trust that takes place two days before you wish to play.
- #3 Walk Up
Arrive early in the morning and queue down at the Old Pavilion by the Old Course on the day you wish to play.
Read St Andrews Old Course as a Single Golfer: your chances of play for more information.
- #4 Commercial Tee times
Some operators, known as Authorised Providers, have agreements in place giving them access to a limited number of guaranteed Old Course tee times from St Andrews Links Trust.
Prices are more expensive than going the DIY route, 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.
Read my extensive report on these 4 options, plus updates for the impact of Covid on tee time availability:
Can I apply for a private advance tee time as a single golfer?
Yes. However, single golfers may only apply for a time for play between 19th April – 31st July 2021.
I have been unsuccessful in my private advance tee time application. What should I do now?
You should consider:
- Do you wish to continue with your golf trip as planned? (rather than wait and take the chance of a successful advance tee time application in 12 months time)
- If yes, how essential is a guaranteed old course tee time? (and, just as importantly, what proportion of your budget are you willing to spend on that certainty)
- Are you willing to consider a ‘ballot friendly’ itinerary?
Disappointed as I am sure you are, I will be happy to help you navigate your way through your remaining options. Get in touch for help & planning advice.
If you like to do your research then I have a detailed report on how to plan your trip to St Andrews – best days, weeks, how to optimise your ballot chances.
I want to purchase a commercial Old Course tee time. Can I buy just the tee time and book everything else myself?
No. Commercial Old Course tee times are only available in ‘Stay and Play’ packages where golf tee times are sold in conjunction with a stay in local hotel and guest house accommodation.
Are ‘last minute’ guaranteed tee times available?
Despite the enormous demand, even the most coveted times are sometimes available at very short notice owing to client cancellations.
Do inquire about availability, even if your lead time is short (less than a month or two), but be realistic both in terms of what is likely to be available and what it may cost you. It is a simple fact that costs rise and itinerary flexibility falls as your lead time reduces. If your lead time is very short you can also consider the daily ballot which gives you a chance of a guaranteed tee time 48 hours in advance of the day you wish to play.
Is it possible to secure a guaranteed Old Course tee time myself?
Absolutely it is and I have written a detailed guide on how to secure an Old Course tee time to help you. You will see, however, that timing is everything and it pays to plan early. I recommend at least 12 months in advance.
What is the St Andrews Old Course ballot?
The Old Course ballot (also called the daily lottery) offers golfers the chance of applying for an Old Course tee time 48 hours prior to the day they wish to play.
What are the chances of getting a tee time in the Old Course Ballot?
Good question! I have analysed thousands of past tee times to try and help answer this question for you.
Read my detailed analysis and tips for improving your odds of success in the daily ballot.
Can single golfers make an Old Course Ballot application?
No. There must be a minimum of 2 players to enter the ballot.
I am delighted to offer a free and unique ballot date match service – BallotBuddy.
If you and another golfer have a date match you will then be eligible to enter the ballot together.
Is it possible to play the Old Course as a single golfer as a ‘walk-up’?
Yes. You are unable to enter the Daily Ballot as a single golfer but you can try your luck as ‘walk-up’ on the day. Arrive early in the morning and queue down at the Old Pavilion by the Old Course on the day you wish to play and staff will endeavour to fill any gaps in the daily tee time schedule from the list of ‘walk ups’.
If you want to know what your chances of play are and how to optimise your chances of securing a tee time slot then read my detailed report:
Do I need a handicap certificate to play the Old Course?
Yes. Handicap restrictions apply – 36 maximum for both men and ladies.
Please note: You may be asked to provide proof of your handicap as a condition of play.
Can I use a buggy at St Andrews? In particular can I use a buggy on the Old Course?
Buggies can only be used under very strict conditions. See “Can I use a buggy at St Andrews?” for full details.
What is the most cost effective way to secure a tee time?
An advance reservation direct from St Andrews Links Trust in September/October of the year prior to play.
When is the best time to travel to St Andrews?
Weather-wise between May and Sept, but take account of times throughout the golfing season (mid-April to mid-October) when the course is particularly busy, impacting on and your chances of getting a tee time. Check busy dates on St Andrews Links Trust website
If you are happy to take a chance on the weather, then the shoulder periods of April and October can offer good opportunities.
I cover everything here you need to know about how to plan your trip to St Andrews:
What St Andrews based golf itineraries would you recommend?
St Andrews and the surrounding area have an amazing selection of courses to choose from, catering for every budget and handicap. While the variety is endless, I have put together a few suggested itineraries to help you on your way.
To discuss all your ideas and discover how I can help, get in touch with me now to start planning.