Getting On the Old Course in 2021

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The Open Championship is celebrating its 150th playing in 2021 and what better venue to stage this historic event than in the Home of Golf, St Andrews on The Old Course, July 15-18, 2021.

While it makes for fantastic spectator viewing and an incredible attendance experience – it also creates challenges in actually playing the course.

Please note that there will be a number of special restrictions and additional course closures over multiple St Andrews Links courses in 2021.

Course protection measures requiring play to be off mats on the Old Course will be in place most of the peak season in the lead up to The Open and course closures from June 19th until after the championship. Please click here to go directly to the course closure information supplied by St Andrews Links Trust.

Even in years when it is not hosting a major championship, The Old Course is definitely the hardest public course to get a tee time at but there are a number of methods you can use to try and secure a round.  If the Old Course is a definite priority for 2021 it can still be done but will require prior planning and some flexibility.  Here are several ways to secure your spot on the first tee.

Guaranteed Tee Times

Use a tour operator such as DP&LGOLF, based in St Andrews, that are an Authorised Provider of Old Course Tee Times and can offer guaranteed tee times for the Old Course as part of package to the St. Andrews area. These are very limited and any golfers who would like to secure one of these slots will need to note interest at least a year before they wish to play, for example, if you are wanting to play during the high season, around April-June 19, 2021, they would need to hear from you at least 12 months in advance. To be placed on their waiting list please click here. These time slots come as part of a package that will include accommodation in St Andrews as well as an additional golf, local tourism and other extras.

Annual Private Ballot

The annual private ballot opens for a two-week window in late August of each year and ends in early September. Check the St Andrews Links Trust website frequently for notice of the 2021 Annual Ballot details. The ballot is now open to single golfers as well golfing groups from 2 to 8 golfers. The tee times are allocated in a lottery style with those who are successful being notified by mid-October. Your entry into this ballot must include a second round on one of the other St Andrews Links courses such as the New, Jubilee or Castle and if successful you will pay the total cost of the two rounds in advance – depending on what other course you chose from around £320 (2021 exact prices will be announced later this spring) per person by the end of November. Tee times are also available in Low (01 Nov to 31 Mar) and Shoulder (1-14 April and 14-31 October) seasons. While a tour operator may not enter the ballot for you they may assist and also plan your additional itinerary around your secured time.  Even if you are unsuccessful in gaining a guaranteed time there are other ways to play and a visit to Scotland for golf is still a fantastic experience without playing the Old Course.

Daily Ballot

This ballot offers around half the available tee times daily for the Old Course to those who haven’t been able to book it in advance. The times are balloted two days (48 hours) in advance and a tour operator can assist in entering your request with the St Andrews Links Trust. Your ballot form needs to be submitted before 2PM two days before you wish to play the Old Course and you will be made aware if you have been successful or not after 5PM that day. Remember there is no play on the Old Course on Sundays, but it’s a great day to walk the hallowed fairways and plan your strategy for when you do tee it up. On this DailyBallot please note that there is a two-golfer minimum and an eight-golfer maximum for the request. There is no premium or discount for green fees on ballot times they are charged at rack rate for the season.  Although you are not required to pay to play another Links Trust Course when successful on the ballot.  Staying several days in the area increases your success level.  Many area courses too will work with you to adjust confirmed tee times should you be successful on the ballot. Please note that ballot requests have increased in recent years and with limited availability in June and July the ballot will probably be oversubscribed most days.

Single Golfer Walk Up

This method is the best for single golfers wanting to play the Old Course who have not been successful in the Annual Private Ballot as they are not eligible for the Daily Ballot process. For the best chance of getting a tee time it is advised that you arrive as early as possibly, even as early as 3AM during the summer high season! You are waiting for space in other peoples 2 balls and 3 balls, so be prepared to play golf with other people. This is the best method when you have a spare day during your trip and want to chance your luck. The price is the Old Course standard green fee. You may find you get onto the course reasonably quick or on the other hand you could wait all day to no success. Again, expect this method to be more crowded than usual in 2021.

Winter Package (1st November to 31st March)

A winter package guarantees you an Old Course tee time at a reduced rate. The dates for these packages run from the 1st November to the 31st March and the price depends on the dates and courses you wish to play. This method requires that you book tee times on two other Links Trust courses as well as staying in a local hotel. You should be aware that play will be from mats on all fairways, however, it is a fantastic value way to experience the Old Course. And yes Scotland does get some lovely sunny days throughout the winter however there are limited tee times due to limited daylight.

Sundays

On a Sunday you can do just about anything on the Old Course but golf! Keep this in mind when you are planning your trip.

Again, while playing the Old Course is for many a bucket list experience trust me when I say just being on any links in Scotland will satisfy the soul of the most avid golfer.

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