A major change to the way Old Course, St Andrews tee times are sold may result in greater flexibility, more choice and cheaper golf for the visiting golfer.
In a statementSt Andrews Links Trust will as of April 2018 manage the sale of all commercial Old Course tee times currently fulfilled by the Old Course Experience and in doing so take control of all tee time reservations on the St Andrews Links.
By taking on the management of commercial times themselves the St Andrews Links Trust may allow the visiting golfer greater flexibility in determining how much time they devote to staying and playing in St Andrews and in turn greater choice as to where they play golf while in Scotland. So expect to see more day trips to St Andrews and potentially more rounds played in other regions of Scotland such as East Lothian or the Highlands.
Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said:
“As the oldest and most famous golf course in the world, The Old Course at St Andrews is very much a jewel in Scotland’s tourism crown and part of what makes Scotland the most alluring golf destination on the planet. Anything that helps to make The Old Course even more accessible to the general golfing public is to be welcomed and we are also optimistic at the positive impact this is likely to have on golf tourism across Scotland, with visitors potentially staying longer, playing more golf courses and visiting more regions.
“We look forward to hearing more about the plans St Andrews Links Trust has regarding Tour Operator bookings for The Old Course and continuing to work with them to promote and market a truly unique destination in the world of golf.”
The distribution of guaranteed Old Course tee times will change as of 2018. (Image Credit Graylyn Loomis)
The decision came as a welcomed surprise to all those in the industry. As it stands now approximately 30% of Old Course tee times during the peak season months are passed to the Old Course Experience to redistribute to a relatively small number of Golf Tour Operators and a limited number of St Andrews accommodation providers. These trade tee times are then sold in packages ensuring the Golf Tour Operator has to commit to additional hotel room nights and rounds of golf. Jamie Gardner of Adventures In Golf, a St Andrews based Golf Tour Operator and founding member of Golf Tourism Scotland gave his take on the announcement,
“Like many other Golf Tour Operators in the town we were uncomfortable in having to rely on a third party competitor for Old Course tee times. That said we have always found the Old Course Experience to be fair throughout our 25 year dealings with their St Andrews office. Moving forward we await further detail from the St Andrews Links Trust but are cautiously optimistic about the future.”
With the omission of the Old Course Experience from the resale of premium commercial tee times the visiting golfer can also expect to pay less for a guaranteed round at The Home of Golf. Currently an Old Course tee time embedded in a trade packages equates to around £800 ($1200) per golfer. In comparative terms a round via the daily or advanced ballot is £175 ($265). Based on the cheapest Old Course Experience package on offer to the public in 2016 a golfer on top of the premium Old Course greens fee will be obliged to stay in St Andrews a minimum of 3 nights, play 2 additional rounds of golf at a total cost of £2230 ($3380).
It must be stressed that access to Old Course tee times via the alternative methods currently managed by the St Andrews Links Trust remain very attainable and will not be impacted. Premium tee times account for roughly 20 four-balls a day in peak season with the rest of the tee times made up of local play, advanced reservations, daily ballot or casual times (the singles list). That said the demand via the daily or advanced ballot has increased over the last 10 years therefore it will be interesting to see if any of the commercial tee times will be set aside to support the growing number of unsuccessful ballot entries.
Expect a further announcement from the St Andrews Links Trust in January of 2016.
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St Andrews Old Course Times Glossary
St Andrews Links Trust
St Andrews Links Trust is the body, formed by an Act of Parliament in 1974 to be responsible for the management and maintenance of the historic Links at St Andrews. The Trust is a registered charity.
Old Course Experience
To help manage the growing administration of Old Course tee times Old Course Experience, part of the Kieth Prowse consortium were granted the contract to take on the distribution and resale of trade times for the last 25+ years.
St Andrews Golf Course
The town has 6 other courses; New, Jubilee, Castle, Strathtyrum & Eden all managed and maintained also by the St Andrews Links Trust. The 7th course, The Dukes sits on the edge of town and is part of Kohler Company, owners of the Old Course Hotel.
Trade (Commercial) Times
More commonly known as ‘Premium’’ or Guaranteed’ Old Course tee times are four-ball tee times sold to selected golf tour operators and St Andrews accommodation providers.