Can I use a golf buggy at St Andrews?
The subject of golf buggies (or golf carts) comes up regularly in my discussions with clients when organising their golf trips to Scotland, in particular the use of a golf buggy at St Andrews, and of course, how to reserve a buggy on the Old Course, the hottest topic of all.
Golf buggies in Scotland – an overview
Traditionally Scottish golf courses are maintained as a ‘walking experience’ and as such the use of a buggy is generally restricted to those with specific needs. While the hiring of a caddie (or a pull trolley) to carry your bag is widely available, in some cases, such as at North Berwick a buggy is not permitted under any circumstances – “The terrain of the links is such that buggies are not permitted.” (see more here)
There are a few welcome exceptions such as Gleneagles (see below), but even there the use of a buggy on their premium courses is strictly under a medical exemption.
So, returning to the question ‘Can I use a golf buggy at St Andrews?’, the first thing to note, is of course, that there are 7 courses run by the St Andrews Links Trust, one of which is the Old Course, and the rules vary.
#1 Using a golf buggy on the Old Course St Andrews
This is the official statement from the Links Trust on the use of buggies on the Old Course:
Golfers who are registered disabled with a permanent condition of disability and relevant supporting documentation may request a buggy for use on the Old Course between April and October. It will be driven by a qualified caddie driver. The buggy is provided free of charge but the appropriate caddie fee is payable. Golfer’s disability documentation should be provided at the time of booking or when entering the Old Course ballot.
That’s a clear statement of their position. My experience of dealing with the Links Trust for requests for an Old Course buggy however have shown there is a little flex.
– Buggies are only permissable between April & October
– There are an extremely limited number of buggies available and so all requests are always subject to availability and suitable ground conditions.
Tip: ‘Suitable ground conditions’ are usually weather related. I have had a client holding the relevant documentation who was unable to take a buggy as the ground conditions were deemed too wet (and therefore dangerous) to be suitable for a buggy.
Can I request a buggy if I am registered disabled (with a permanent condition)?
This is the only instance in which you can make your request IN ADVANCE and at the time of booking.
- You must provide suitable disability documentation at the time of booking (or when entering the Old Course Ballot)
Can I request an Old Course buggy if I am a senior (over 65 years old)?
- You can only make your request the DAY BEFORE you play
- You must provide suitable proof of your age
Can I request a buggy if I have a medical certificate?
- You can only make your request the DAY BEFORE
- You must provide suitable proof of your (temporary) disability such as a medical certificate from your doctor.
Tip: Make this as specific as you can – a ‘sore knee’ is unlikely to ‘cut it’.
Medical Certificate – example (click to enlarge)
What does a buggy cost?
The buggy is free but must be driven by a caddie provided by the Caddie Master. The cost of the caddie is £55 + gratuity.
Can one of my group drive the buggy for me?
The buggy must be driven by your caddie. This is for health & safety reasons: there are various hazards on the Old Course such as fairway pot bunkers, shared greens, parallel fairways & holes that cross each other.
St Andrews Old Course – it can get a little crowded – 8 golfers, 4+ caddies … and 2 cyclists!
Can I share my buggy with anyone else in my group?
The buggy is for use ONLY by the person covered by the relevant exemption documentation and their caddie.
Can the buggy be used to carry the clubs of anyone else in my group?
Tip: This applies even if there is space. This is to ensure speed of play remains unaffected by various club ‘drop-offs’. The use of a caddie (or pull trolley where permitted) is recommended if you don’t want to carry your clubs.
#2 Using a buggy on the other golf courses at St Andrews
While still tightly controlled, the use of buggies on these other St Andrews courses are slightly more relaxed.
- You can request a buggy if you are a senior (over 65) or have a valid medical certificate
- You can request a buggy IN ADVANCE at the time of booking
- You can request a buggy on these courses throughout the year
Other differences between the use of a buggy on these courses and the use of a buggy on the Old Course are:
- Buggies are chargeable and cost £30
- You are not required to hire a caddie to drive your buggy
- Buggies can be shared with other members in your group
Tip: One further thing worth noting, while it is common elsewhere to see a caddie stood on the back of of a buggy to provide directions, this is not permitted at St Andrews.
Read: ‘Tips & Frequently Asked Questions’ or for help and advice.
#3 Using a golf buggy at other golf courses near St Andrews
Despite being a relatively new course with design and marketing aimed to be particularly appealing to golfers from the USA, the use of a golf buggy at Kingsbarns is also strictly limited. This is what they have to say:
Kingsbarns is a walking experience golf course, however we have two buggies available for mobility restricted golfers by advance reservation.
- You will need a valid medical certificate
- The buggy must be driven by a caddie. The buggy is free, the caddie costs £55 plus gratuity.
As with the Old Course at St Andrews, the official policy regarding the use of a buggy at Carnoustie states:
Personal buggy use is not permitted. Registered disabled golfers may apply for the use of a buggy which is subject to availability. Due to the set up of the course the buggy must be driven by a Caddie. There is no charge for the buggy but the caddie fee applies.
Unlike requesting a buggy on the Old Course it is possible to request the use of a buggy if you have a medical certificate MORE THAN ONE DAY IN ADVANCE. The buggy, which is free, must be driven by a caddie (£55 plus gratuity).
Tip: There is just 1 buggy available and if another golfer requiring a cart for medical reasons arrives to play and they are registered disabled they will have priority over a pre-booked cart if there is limited availability.
Gleneagles is a notable exception to the stringent buggy rules applied at the other nearby premium courses.
Buggies (carts) are available for hire on the PGA Centenary Course for £60 and you can self-drive.
St Andrews Duke’s Course
The Duke’s Course has self-drive 2-seater buggies, bookable in advance. Available at £40 per round and available for general use.
Fairmont St Andrews, Torrance & Kittocks courses
The Fairmont St Andrews has a large fleet of 40 buggies available for golfers playing both the Torrance and Kittocks courses.
They can be booked in advance at a cost of £40 each. A new fleet is planned for summer 2019 so expect a small price increase.
Crail Golfing Society
Scotscraig Golf Club
Scotscraig offer self-drive buggies for hire at £25 per round, bookable in advance
Leven Golfing Society have 2 buggies available for hire for visitors for £25. They are for general use and are self drive. Pre booking is advised.
Lundin Golf Club offer 2 self-drive single-seater buggies for hire for visitors for £15. Pre booking is advised.
Of course you can always play golf as it was meant to be played – purge your bag of extraneous items and carry!
Read what makes playing golf on Scottish links courses so special: Insights into Playing Scottish Links Golf – a different game
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