Regular readers of Golf Vacation Insider know I often send reminders of critical dates and deadlines.
Well, one of these critical deadlines is not a deadline anymore. Even still, if you’re thinking about playing the Old Course at St. Andrews next year, you’d better act before September 14, 2015 (less than a week away!).
Miss this opportunity, and you’ll likely have to pay about $1,000 for an advanced, Old Course tee time you could have obtained for about $250.
What’s so important about September 14, 2015?
That’s the end date for entry into the lottery system that will dole out advanced tee times for the Old Course next year. It used to be the case that anyone wishing to play had to have their fingers poised over their mouses at a precise moment (usually early in September) and hope their Internet connection was just a little faster than everyone else’s in order to get a coveted foursome at the Home of Golf.
Now, the Links Trust has instead opened a window–August 26 through September 14, 2014–during which golfers can put their names in the proverbial hat for Old Course tee times. Now, your chance at securing a spot is as good as everyone else’s, and you don’t have to try and game the system in the middle of the night to get the upper hand.
Without an Advanced (i.e. “Guaranteed”) Reservation for the Old Course through SALT, you have to:
1. Take your chances on the Daily Ballot, which is drawn 48 hours in advance of the intended date of play…
2. Try to play “standby – “walk on” as a single the day you want to play (this usually works for 10 to 20 players per day)…
3. Play on a Winter package, offered between mid-October and mid-April. Just keep in mind that the weather can be pretty dicey, and that you’ll have to play off fairway mats on The Old Course, as well as other St. Andrews layouts.
4. Use a travel outfit that has contract tee times with the Old Course.
Using this last method, you’ll likely have to pay what works out to be about $1,000 for a guaranteed tee time you could have purchased for about $245 (at the current exchange rate).
So, if you already know you’re taking a Scotland golf vacation next year, and the Old Course is on your list of courses to play, do yourself a favor and put in for an Advanced Reservation.
The application forms are posted on the St. Andrews Links Trust website (standrews.org.uk).
Read them very carefully, fill them out and submit them by September 14, 2015 at or before 2 pm Eastern Time.
Also, when selecting the date you want to play, keep in mind that…
– since the Old Course hosted the 2015 Open Championship this July and fewer visitors than normal were able to play the course, demand for 2016 tee times will be higher than usual
– the Old Course is closed on Sundays
– August an is an extremely busy month (your chances aren’t great)
– Advanced reservations won’t be accepted for September (play is available via a limited daily ballot only)
– The course is unavailable for public play on several other “busy dates,” which you should review before submitting your application because you will not be contacted if you choose bad dates.
However, it is perfectly acceptable to submit a range of dates that you can play. In fact, this may increase your chances of success.
There are dozens more Old Course application rules (player minimums, two-round minimums, group requirements, handicap requirements, changes, refunds) and insider tips for scoring a coveted, guaranteed tee time.
And, equally important, there’s a lot more to know about taking a St. Andrews golf vacation than getting an Old Course tee time.
To these ends, if you’d like the best advice on, “how to do St. Andrews right,” simply send me an email (editor [at] golfvacationinsider [dot] com) with your specific dates and questions.
I’ll then share your inquiry with my colleages at Golf Odyssey, who can offer expert advice and even recommend a travel provider — if you’re looking for one — that will likely fit best with your plans, travel style, and budget.
Nope, there’s no cost involved. This is just free advice from those in the know.
Any other insights on getting Old Course tee times you’d like to share? As always, let us know in the comments!