Updated: May 21, 2015
Getting a Tee Time at the Old Course in St. Andrews:There are 4 ways to get a tee time at the Old Course in St. Andrews. I just returned from a golf trip (April 2010) to St. Andrews and I would say the process to get a time to play golf at the Old Course is the most drawn out of all the courses. If you are ambitious and organized, the best thing to do is get online in September and download the booking form well in advance and submit it ASAP to get times that work best for you and your group. I submitted my complete application via email on September 8, 2009 and received an instant email saying they had received it. It took another 4 weeks to get the paperwork in the mail. On the application I had told them the days we could play the courses - they don't guarantee any particular dates and times - you give them a range and they fill in whatever they have (if any). The "provisional tee reservation" was sent via mail to me and it had both our tee times at the Old Course and the Castle Course (pretty much what we wanted). We had about 5 weeks to submit payment and secure the tee times they had given us.
There is 1 lead golfer who does all the bookings - if you are single golfer you CAN NOT get an advanced tee time. I filled out the form with all my fellow golfers names on it (there were 6 of us total). I had to give St. Andrews there names and golf handicaps. That is another issue that may come up when trying to book at St. Andrews. The Old Course requires that men have an official handicap of 24 or less and women have to be 36 or less. Make sure everyone has their handicap cards on the trip since the starter did ask for this information on the day we checked in to play. All correspondence was given to me (as the lead golfer) and I was responsible for paying all the green fees (see details on that below). When they receive your payment, the St. Andrews Links then sends you confirmed tee time paperwork along with vouchers that you present to the starter when you check in. Although the process was a bit tedious, the end result was just fine. The second way to get tee times at the Old Course (almost 50% are done this way) is to use the Old Course Ballot system. This is a daily lottery style draw - you submit your name, handicap details, etc. on the day before you wish to play and they pull out a limited # of tee times via this system. It can work, but don't rely on it. There must be 2 golfers minimum per lottery signup sheet. Single golfers (3rd way to get tee times) are relegated to approaching the starter on the day they want to play and he will try to fit them into groups that are not full. Arrive early if you are a single golfer and hope for the best. We have known several golfers who tried this and it worked out pretty good.
Guaranteed Tee Times at the Old Course:There is one way to guarantee yourself a tee time at the Old Course and that is through their Old Course Experience package. There are a variety of packages you can buy and of course you are paying a premium to get guaranteed times on the course. All the details of this package system can be found on the website at Oldcourse-experience.com. The rates start at about $1350 (British Pounds) and that is for a 2 night deal with 2 rounds, 2 nights accommodations, breakfast, lunch, 3 course dinner, and some other extras like entrance to the British Golf Museum. If you fail to get your application in by September, perhaps this is the your best way to assure yourself of tee times.
How Much are Green Fees at the Old Course:You may be surprised to know that the Old Course is not even close to being the most expensive course to play in Scotland. There are times of the year where you are only going to pay about 64 GBP ($100 US). I played during the spring shoulder season and paid about $140. The high season is roughly from late April until mid October and green fees on the Old Course are 130 GBP (roughly $200). Carnoustie and Muirfield are both more expensive to play, so consider the Old Course a bargain. You can get all the details for tee times, green fees, caddies, club hire, etc. at http://www.standrews.org.uk..