How to Play Golf at St Andrews, Scotland
As the birthplace of golf, a trip to St Andrews is something of a pilgrimage. The Old Course at St. Andrews is a must-play and one of the most sought after golf courses in the country.
However, that isn’t to say that the Old Course is a private affair. In fact, the Old Course is open to the public on most days but planning a particular tee time here takes a little more than your regular game. Demand far outstrips supply and guaranteeing a game is difficult. Our Golf Travel experts are here to give you everything you need to let you know how to play golf at St Andrews, Scotland.
Cost to play golf at St Andrews, Scotland
The first thing you’ll need to know is how much is it to play golf at St Andrews. The 2019 green fees for the Old Course range between £90 in the low season, and £190 in high season.
Direct Application to the St. Andrews Links Trust
For forward planners.
During a short 2 – 3 week window in Autumn, the trust runs a lottery-style allocation of tee times. Later on in January, more advanced booking dates open up when any unassigned or cancelled tee times are resold. This is a good option, particularly for a smaller group, as lottery wins are less likely for large groups. However, some months have availability restrictions, and reservations are for Monday through Friday only (not ideal for that quick weekend break you were planning!) Furthermore, the Old Course is not guaranteed. While the other courses at St Andrews are nothing to turn your nose up at, if you have your heart set on the Old Course you might want to try a different option.
Golf Package Holiday
For large groups.
The only way to truly guarantee a tee time on the Old Course at St Andrews is to book a golf package which includes one. These used to be the sole proviso of the Old Course Experience, sold by the Links Trust, but they have recently distributed times out to a few other providers. Unsurprisingly, the OCE and other package options can be quite pricey, but they are a great option of your looking for a little luxury. Furthermore, this is probably the only way to guarantee a larger group plays without splitting up too much.
Daily Visitors Ballot
For gamblers in small groups.
One of the riskiest options, but a great last ditch effort if you haven’t won your spot back in October. The Daily Visitors Ballots is another lottery system, but ballots open for each day only 48 hours in advance. So, if you are hoping to play on Saturday, you will need to apply the Thursday before and cross your fingers. Golfers enter by phone or in person at a Links Trust clubhouse before 2pm. This is a good option for visitors who are in St Andrews for a few days. We recommend entering the lottery each day that you stay, but book safety spots at nearby courses in case of disappointment. Local clubs are used to this, so as long as you let them know in advance most of them are happy to rain check you if you do win a ballot spot on the day of your booking. Again, this is not a good option for larger groups, as the maximum number of applicants for each ballot is four, so larger groups with many separate ballots may be split up.
Daily Local Ballot
For the charismatic and well-connected.
A very similar but less fiercely competitive ballot. We recommend making friends with a local with playing privileges, and have them enter your name and play with you. Alternatively, move to St Andrews and become one!
Single Golfer Walk-up
For the flexible single.
As they are not permitted to enter the daily ballot, single golfers check in at the Old Pavilion (often from as early at 5:30am during the summer, so set your alarm!) After this, you’ll be paired with any incomplete groups, so cross your fingers and hope for no-shows. This process can take anything from an hour to a week. For a better chance, we recommend bad weather days, where locals and visitors alike might cancel last minute.
The Unlimited Golf Ticket at St Andrews
For the less fussy.
Recently, the Links Trust began selling these ‘unlimited golf’ tickets, good for 3 or 7 days of golf on all courses except the Old. Although it may sound sacrilegious, it is still possible to play golf in St Andrews without a round at the Old Course and still enjoy one of the best golf trips in Scotland. The town is filled with excellent courses and the Old Course is just one of them. Of course, we do still recommend entering the daily ballot alongside your unlimited ticket (what have you got to lose?) but rest assured that, even without a win, your golf break to Scotland will more than satisfy.
So, you might still be asking, ‘how can I play golf at St Andrews?’. Well, this really does depend on you. For the forward planners out there, we recommend Direct Application. For larger groups, the best (and perhaps only) way is to book a golf package holiday which includes a guaranteed tee time. For the gamblers in small groups, enter the daily ballot and try your luck. For the flexible single, try a walk in and hope for the best. Finally, for the less fussy, go for the Unlimited and still enjoy one of the best golfing experiences of your lifetime.
Check out our top golf holiday deals in Scotland.