Old Course St Andrews, 18th green approach, 2 golfers
The ultimate guide …

St Andrews Old Course tee times 2021:
4 ways to guarantee success

SECURING A ST ANDREWS OLD COURSE TEE TIME IN 2021 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.

A GUIDE TO SECURING THE MOST COVETED TEE TIME IN GOLF

PLUS: 2020 update for COVID-19

By Chris Toll, Ginger Beer Golf Travel

Old Course St Andrews, 1st tee golfer
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, and in conjunction with my free golf travel planning tools, 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 …

The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Old Course tee times in 2020 and 2021

Each year the routes to an Old Course tee time follow a similar pattern. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many disruptions so far in 2020 which are having a knock-on impact on planning for 2021.

The decision of the R&A to postpone the Open Championship for a year means the tournament originally scheduled for July 2021 has now been rescheduled to July 2022. On the positive side, this means the Old Course will no longer be closed to visitors between 19th June and 19th July 2021.

However, with all courses closed just now (as at April 2020), St Andrews Links Trust (SALT) made the decision to offer any reservations on any course up to 30th June 2020 the opportunity to reschedule to 2021 or 2022.

Many clients are taking the opportunity to postpone their trip for a year. So assuming the proportion of tee times allocated between advance, reserved and ballot categories does not alter, this will almost certainly have a negative impact on remaining 2021 Old Course tee time inventory.

SALT’s temporary rescheduling policy may be extended to include reservations beyond 30th June.

They say:
“we will continue to follow government advice and will act accordingly should circumstances change. In the meantime, for course updates and further details please visit either standrews.com or any of the Trust’s social media channels”.

Old Course St Andrews, long view over 18th green

TABLE OF CONTENTS

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.

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.

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.

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.

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


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

Old Course St Andrews, 1st tee golfer

How does it work?

If the COVID-19 outbreak doesn’t alter the normal process, you should make your online application on play.standrews.com within a 15-day window between Wed 19th August and 2nd September 2020 (dates TBC).

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 2nd September 2020 for play in May 2021.

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.

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

High Season (19th April – 17th October 2021): Minimum of 2 and maximum of 8 golfers. 2 Course Package – Old Course + a choice of 2nd course. Cost TBC (£340 per person in 2020).

Shoulder Season (1st-18th April & 18th-31st October 2021): Minimum of 2 and maximum of 16 golfers. 2 Course Package – Old Course + a choice of 2nd course. Cost TBC (£240 per person in 2020).

Single golfers may apply for a tee time 19th April – 31st July 2021. Old Course + Castle Course. Cost TBC (£340 per person in 2020).

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 – 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 information?

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, but to give you some idea, the normal average success rate is around 15%, rising up to as much as 30% for the less demanded months at the start and end of the high season (eg April and October) when the days are shorter and the weather less settled, but down to as little as 5% at the height of the season (eg August).

In addition, the impact of COVID-19 means that with many 2020 reservations rescheduling to 2021, there should be a reduction in the supply of Private Advance tee times for everyone else.

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 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

Old Course St Andrews, 1st tee golfer

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. 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 will know their actual tee time allocation in July 2020, but you may be able to secure a package by going on a priority wait list 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.

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.

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.

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.

In addition, the impact of COVID-19 means that with many 2020 reservations rescheduling to 2021, there should be a reduction in the supply of Private Advance tee times for everyone else.

#3 HOTELS

Old Course St Andrews, 1st tee golfer

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.

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 July 2020, but you may be able to 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.

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.

In addition, the impact of COVID-19 means that with many 2020 reservations rescheduling to 2021, there should be a reduction in the supply of Hotel and Guest House Authorised Provider tee times for everyone else.

Need more information?

#4 DAILY BALLOT

Old Course St Andrews, 1st tee golfer

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 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

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 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.

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 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.

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.

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.

But, as a very general rule of thumb based on my analysis of historic data in 2019 & 2018, the chances of success in the shoulder and high season months (April through October) are likely to be just over 20% or around 1 ballot card application in 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 ballot times are available but restricted or not available at all.

Check for busy dates in 2021 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.

The impact of COVID-19 with some golfers postponing their trip until 2021, coupled with those golfers intending to visit in 2021 anyway, means that there may be an increase in the total demand for ballot tee times. The total supply of available ballot times should be similar to previous years, so we may expect an overall reduction in the success rate.

Highly recommended:

Where I guide you through when to travel – the best months, weeks, days and how long to stay

#5 WALK UP
Old Course St Andrews, 1st tee golfer

How does it work?

Finally, the ‘walk up’ option 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 and walk ups. Also, sometimes there are cancellations that happen on the day that will 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.

To take your best chance, 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 (ex Dark Times) from the list of ‘walk ups’.

Then, local ticket holders have until 9am to claim any available ‘Dark Time’ tee times. So at 9am staff will offer any remaining slots on ‘Dark time’ tee times to golfers on the ‘walk up’ list.

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

Notes:

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.

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 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.

What are your chances of success?

I am often asked what the chances are of getting on the Old Course as a ‘walk up’. It’s a difficult question to answer because SALT do not publish results statistics.

However, I have conducted some analysis on the number of single slots available on the daily draw sheet over the last 2 years – 2019 and 2018. So although we cannot quantify the demand for single slots, we can at least see the potential supply.

So, as a very general rule of thumb based on my analysis of historic data for the shoulder and high season months (April through October) in 2019 & 2018, there were on average 31 single slots available each day in 2019 (18 in regular tee times and 13 in ‘Dark Time’ tee times) and 25 single slots available each day in 2018 (16 in regular tee times and 9 in ‘Dark Time’ tee times)

If you want to dig deeper into the results stats to see historically the best months, days of the week and group size for single slot availability, then read my detailed analysis and tips for improving your chances of play as a walk up / single golfer.

The impact of COVID-19 sees golfers postponing their trip until 2021 which is likely to increase the overall demand for a ballot time in 2021. With a similar supply of times to previous years, this is likely to mean more golfers being unsuccessful in the ballot, and therefore having to resort to the walk-up queue.

Similarly, it’s likely that more single golfers will join the walk-up line in 2021 than in previous years, purely because COVID-19 has forced them to reschedule their trip from 2020.

Single golfers

I can help you find an Old Course Ballot Partner

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

Improve your chance to play

It’s free and easy to use

Further reading:

St Andrews Old Course Ballot: Boost your chances of success
My detailed analysis and tips for improving your chances of success in the daily ballot

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

FAQs – Old Course tee times
Your questions answered

Need help with 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.

Owing to COVID-19, Tee times for 2021 will be limited in supply; 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.

St Andrews Old Course tee times in 2021 – 4 ways to guarantee success September 5, 2014