St Andrews Old Course Tee Times : Your questions answered

Last Updated: March 10, 2024

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:

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.

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.

Let me know how I can help.

An Overview:
There are several ways to secure a St Andrews Old Course tee time:
DIY:

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. Daily Singles Draw
Register in person at the Old Pavilion or Links Clubhouse by 5:pm day before play, with a random draw the same day.
Read St Andrews Old Course as a Single Golfer: your chances of play for more information.

OR

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.

Yes. However, single golfers may only apply for a time for play between mid April – end July.

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.

Get in touch with me for planning advice.

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.

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.

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 18 months in advance.

I wrote a dedicated report on Covid-19 at the time where I assessed its impact on golfers and Old Course Tee times in general in 2020 and 2021 (updated Aug 2020)

With the pandemic behind us, you can view my latest report, on ballot success rates in 2023, as well as my in depth overview of how to secure an Old Course Tee Time, with my thoughts on what effect pent up demand caused by COVID restrictions has had on Old Course tee times .

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.

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.

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 also 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

No. There must be a minimum of 2 players to enter the ballot.

However, I am delighted to offer a free and unique ballot date match service – Ballot Buddy.

If you and another golfer have a date match you will then be eligible to enter the ballot together.

Yes. You are unable to enter the Daily Ballot as a single golfer but you can try your luck in the Singles Daily Draw system. Register in person at the Old Pavilion or St Andrews Links Clubhouse between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM on the day before you 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.

You can read my thoughts on the system and 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 Playing the Old Course as Single Golfer.

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.

Buggies can only be used under very strict conditions. See “Can I use a buggy at St Andrews?” for full details.

An advance reservation direct from St Andrews Links Trust in September/October of the year prior to play.

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.

Read everything you need to know about how to plan your trip to St Andrews

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.

If you would like some advice on planning your trip then just get in touch.

To discuss all your ideas and discover how I can help, get in touch with me now to start planning.

Further reading