Weeks after staging the phenomenally successful 150th Open Championship, St Andrews Links Trust has announced that its advanced tee-time ballot for The Old Course will return this year.
The Private Advanced Tee Time ballot, considered the last chance for travelling golfers to secure a guaranteed Old Course tee-time for 2023, opens this month following a two-year break during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Around 1,000 guaranteed Old Course tee-times are available through the Links Trust’s PATT scheme and demand is expected to be unprecedented, following the 150th Open and two years of global travel restrictions.
The ballot runs from August 24 to September 7 with golfers able to select up to three date windows for a 2023 tee time alongside one of the other six St Andrews Links courses.
A spokesperson for St Andrews Links Trust said: “We are delighted to once again operate the Private Advanced Tee Time ballot, giving golfers around the world a chance to play the Old Course in addition to one of our other world-class courses here at the Home of Golf.
“Demand for tee times since the pandemic has been unprecedented and we know from our Authorised Tour Operator partners that they have virtually sold out of packages for 2023 so this represents the last opportunity to try to secure a guaranteed tee time for next year.”
Pre-pandemic, 60 per cent of all advanced ballot applicants came from North America, Scotland’s largest inbound golf tourism market.
Packages include food & drink credit in St Andrews Links clubhouses, driving range balls and use of the practice facilities at the Links Trust golf academy.
Traditional ways of getting a tee-time on The Old Course are also affected by the pent-up demand created by the coronavirus pandemic and popularity of the 150th Open.
The traditional ballot has received record entries in 2021 and 2022, according to the St Andrews Links Trust.
“Since restrictions were eased earlier this year, demand for Old Course tee times through the daily ballot (conducted 48 hours in advance) has increased significantly, with applications more than double pre-pandemic levels. Similar levels of increase are expected in the Private Advanced Tee Time ballot.”
Beyond booking with a St Andrews golf package with an authorised provider, or applying through PATT or the traditional ballot, the only other ways to secure an Old Course tee-time are to join the singles queue, or be invited to play as a guest of a member at one of the local St Andrews golf clubs.
Old Course advanced tee time ballot applicants will receive the results in October, allowing time to plan for trips to the ‘Home of Golf’ in 2023.
Full details of the Old Course packages and ballot process is available at https://play.standrews.com/
What’s it like to play The Old Course?
- Golf Guide to St Andrews & The Kingdom of Fife
- How to play Links Golf
- Glamping at The 150th Open
- Heartbreak at The Home of Golf
- Recommended Reading: Spirit of St Andrews by Dr Alister Mackenzie
What is the Old Course Ballot?
For domestic visitors, or those not using a tour operator, golfers can enter a ballot, a type of lottery, to gain a tee-time on the Old Course. You can enter the ballot over the telephone, online or in person at the St Andrews Links Clubhouse next to the New Course.
You can ballot 48 hours in advance giving you a greater chance of landing arguably the most famous tee-time in golf.
The draw for the next day’s play is displayed by the Old Course starter’s hut and Caddie’s pavilion and is also available online.
What is the Old Course singles queue?
If you don’t make it into the ballot, there is another option for any golfer willing to sacrifice sleep and brave cold and wind. You can join the singles queue and wait for one of a handful of rare singles slots allocated every morning by the St Andrews Links Trust.
Head down to the Old Course starter’s hut in pre-dawn darkness and you will see huddled shapes sitting on benches and a line of golfers waiting and chatting. All are hoping to be offered a chance of a singles slot, to play with strangers and experience a golf course which has inspired so many course designers, writers, artists and great players.
The singles queue is a rite of passage and brings no guarantees. You won’t get to join friends and the staff are unflinchingly democratic. It’s first come first served, regardless of status or influence, and they fiercely protect the privilege.
If you aren’t lucky enough to land a tee-time on The Old, the other courses in St Andrews are quite the consolation, especially The New and Jubilee; arguably more difficult and challenging layouts than the Old Lady herself.