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Your Advanced Old Course Reservation Returns Unsuccessful – What Next?

On the week golfers jumped around their offices or kitchens at the same time many more learned the fiat of their advanced Old Course tee time application via the St Andrews Links ballot system, dreams left crushed for another year. I’m here to tell you not all is lost with some next steps when your after an unsuccessful advanced Old Course application.

Still Come To St Andrews

So you’ve failed in getting a guaranteed tee time at the Old Course, St Andrews so you might as well not bother coming. It’s not as if we don’t have any other world renowned courses to play, all of which are far accessible to the public. A visit to St Andrews is a visit to a special place in the world of golf regardless of a round on the Old Course. Whether that be a late evening stroll of the Old Course, a visit to Old Tom Morris’ grave or just the intangible energy in the town you’ll be glad you came whether you tee it up or not. True? I guess you’ll have to visit to find out.

Free Up Your Itinerary 

Matt Ginella proudly wearing his Linksoul apparel on the Old Course, St Andrews

Matt Ginella proudly wearing his Linksoul apparel on the Old Course, St Andrews

The beauty of a 48 hour ballot is the ability to modify your itinerary accordingly. The Old Course is inevitably going to become the focus of this portion of your trip. By booking rounds on any of the other St Andrews Links Courses (New Course, Jubilee Course, Eden Course or Castle Course) you can be rest assured the Links Trust will uphold your booking subject to tee time availability. It’s likely neighbouring courses such as Crail, Kingsbarns & Ellie will accommodate a change of tee time however nothing is guaranteed. By leaving your days blank you can set about booking golf that day depending on your success in the ballot. With Carnoustie the exception all other courses will likely have availability of some kind leaving you to book last minute with the peace of mind that your tee times aren’t locked in stone.

Ahead of a visit read up on the other great courses in the region to build in a solid contingency. Check out Graylyn Loomis’ course reviews for courses to play near St Andrews; Crail, New Course, Jubilee Course, Elie & Kingsbarns.

Morning Glory In The Singles Queue

Old Course Pavilion

Old Course Pavilion Singles Queue

It’s your last hand and you’re all in. If your final day still has you still waiting for an Old Course tee time if you want it, you’ll get it. It may mean a 1am alarm clock and a cold night under the stars but you’ll have bagged yourself a round on the Old Course. It’s the ugly way to get a tee time and certainly not a sexy method given the early morning start but the ‘lucky queue’ as it’s referred to locally continues to prove very effective. As stated in Episode 31 – Playing The Old Course As A Single Golfer where I spent a morning in the Singles Queue and reported the success of four high school kids who went from the front of the singles queue at midnight to walking off the 18th green before noon, certain tricks can improve your chances of walking the hallowed turf of the Old Course St Andrews. It can sometimes be as much about being in the right place, at the right time. They do call it the lucky queue after all.

Double Up – Stay Two Nights

To optimise your chance of a round at the Old Course, St Andrews prep yourself for a run at the daily ballot. This is the process where golfers apply online, phone or book in person through the St Andrews Links 48 hours in advance of their proposed day of play. It’s perfectly outlined on their website;

Despite its overwhelming popularity, the Old Course still upholds the tradition of a ballot (lottery) drawn two days ahead of play (except for Sundays and tournament days). This enables golfers who are in the area to still have the opportunity to play the Old Course during their visit. This reflects the public spirit of St Andrews Links and its commitment to staying as open and accessible to all golf lovers.

By staying in St Andrews two days you’ll have two cracks at the daily ballot. Like the advanced ballot the daily ballot is always oversubscribed and truthfully not always that reliable. The St Andrews Links staff whom you’ll interact with throughout your time at the golf courses in town are always friendly and helpful. You’ll almost feel like they want you out on the Old Course as much as you do yourself! A second night in St Andrews means another night walking the cobbled streets and soaking up the magic of the Auld Grey Town. And right there you’ll have experienced the essence of St Andrews, The Home of Golf tee time or not.

So come 2016 I’ll see you in St Andrews and with any luck watch you putt out on 18.


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