In 2022, the Old Course at St. Andrews hosted the 150th Open Championship, when Cameron Smith stormed past Rory McIlroy to win his first major championship. It was the 30th time that the oldest men’s major championship was played at the Home of Golf. The Old Course would be a must-play for its major championship history alone, but Open history aside, the course offers a glimpse into the origin of this game that dates back to the 15th century. The layout’s architectural merits have influenced the designs of tens of thousands of other courses and help it consistently rank near the top of our World’s 100 Greatest Courses.

It’s this history that makes the Old Course sit high on any golfer’s bucket list. With play being open to the public every day except Sundays—when the course becomes a town park—and select tournament days, the Old Course is among the more accessible courses in major championship golf. There are a variety of ways to secure a tee time, ranging from convenient (yet often costly) pre-booked trips to a new singles daily draw, making it essential to know your options and have a plan.

More From the Open Championship Old Course vs. Tour pros How the R&A aims to give the Old Course a fighting chance against modern tour pros OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW The best of the Open Championship rota: The most notable (and infamous) traits among the R&A’s go-to courses Playing The Old Course in Reverse


Here’s how you can play the Old Course:

One quick note: While the Old Course is open for public play, you must display a current official handicap card or certificate that verifies your world handicap doesn’t exceed 36 (the current max for men and women).

RELATED: A deep-dive look at the subtle but ongoing evolution of the Old Course

Enter the private advance tee-time lottery through St. Andrews Links Trust

Each fall, the St. Andrews Links Trust (the body that manages and maintains the seven courses at St. Andrews) accepts applications for tee times on the Old Course for the following year. Applications are typically open for several weeks in August and September, and you can expect to hear back on whether you’ve secured a time by late October.

Book through an authorized provider, which have access to a number of advanced slots

Perhaps the most convenient way to land a tee time at the Old Course is through an authorized provider. Each year, St. Andrews will release a certain number of tee times to third-party companies—deemed “authorized providers”—who then sell those times to the general public. Typically, these tee times are part of a larger curated trip that also includes rounds at other nearby courses. While using an authorized provider guarantees you a round on the Old Course, these trips often sell out quickly and can be expensive. These tee times are typically released in April the year prior to play, so make sure to plan your trip well ahead of time.

Secure a more readily available time through a winter package

Though many of the nearly 50,000 rounds of golf played each year at the Old Course are played during the summer months (known as “high season”), St. Andrews offers a winter package for those willing to play between November and March. Starting in June, groups of two to 16 can apply to play that winter. If accepted, the package includes three rounds of golf, including one guaranteed round at the Old Course and a round at two of the other seven St. Andrews courses of your choosing. One caveat is that from November through March on the Old Course, golfers must use mats when hitting off the fairways to protect against divot damage. But, a willingness to use mats and brave colder temperatures (winter high temps average in the mid 40s) can land you a deal: While the Old Course costs £270 (about $323) to play from April to October, the winter package—including three rounds of golf—is just over $200. As for current availability for this coming winter, the winter packages appear to be available for December and January.

Enter the Old Course ballot

For those who aren’t able to secure a guaranteed tee time on the Old Course before heading across the pond, you have a couple of options. Each day (except Sundays), the Old Course leaves a substantial number of tee times available for a lottery, which is drawn two days prior to the date of play. To enter the lottery, there must be a minimum of two people and no more than four in your group. You can enter by providing the names, home club and handicaps of your group either online, by phone or in person at one of the clubhouses two days prior to when you want to play. The lottery closes at 2 p.m. and ballot results are available just a couple of hours later at 4:30 p.m.

More From Golf Digest Business and Golf My favorite courses for sneaking in an emergency 18 on a work trip Everyman golf 10 hidden gems near bucket-list golf courses Low Net The best courses for bad golfers Try the new singles daily draw

In March 2024, the Old Course retired the longstanding tradition of hopeful single golfers lining up at the Old Pavilion in the middle of the night to try and secure a same-day tee time. Instead, starting March 12, individual golfers can enter their details at the Old Pavilion, adjacent to the first tee, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on the day before they are looking to play.

At 5 p.m., there will be a digital randomized draw and golfers will be notified whether or not they secured a tee time for the following day via text and email. St. Andrews chose to switch to the new digital singles draw because the overwhelming demand for same-day tee times was causing golfers to wait outside for upwards of 12 hours through the night with the old system.

“The significant growth in the number of golfers utilising the singles queue in the past decade has been such that we felt it was impacting the customer experience and becoming increasingly challenging for our dedicated team to manage expectations,” said Neil Coulson, Chief Executive of the St. Andrews Links Trust.

More From the Open Championship ‘A Constant Effort’ The Protector of the Old Course: Why the tenure of St. Andrews’ ninth superintendent could be the most critical Open Championship Preview Caddie tales from the Old Course: The good, the bad and the bizarre First Person The Next 150 Years and Other Deep Thoughts Ahead of The Open

This article was originally published on