The St Andrews Old Course ballot is quixotic. It is however completely random. You stand as good a chance as anyone
“How good are my chances?”, is familiar question we get asked. We explore the strategies and take you into the daily strike-rates that we believe operate by month of the year, and day of the week
Faraway Fairways believe that there is a bit of pseudo science involved, which although it can never guarantee a result, it can begin to load the dice in your favour
The time of year is always an important consideration and its worth assessing the prospects.
The Old Course closes from mid September until early October, and there is another block out in early May normally.
July and August are the busiest months, whereas April is somewhat surprisingly the driest by rainfall inches
The St Andrews 'New Course' dates to 1895. It benefited for a better understanding of design and technologies, whilst still enjoying a pick of the land. It tends to be the 'towns people's' favourite and is often regarded as the most complete test of links golfer
The St Andrews Jubilee Course (1897) was the third links to be built. Originally conceived as the 'ladies' course it was the subject of significant enhancements in the 1970's to the point where many good judges now regard it as the toughest the town has
The St Andrews Castle Course is the newest and most photogenic in the clan with elevated panoramas of the sea and long vistas back into the town . It's a played along a dramatic cliff-top and has been sculptured for an unmistakable 'linksy' character.
St Andrews 5th & 14th
This is an annual question. Are guaranteed tee-times worth it? There’s no right or wrong answer to this. “It depends” is probably the best anyone can honestly give
They certainly cost more (a lot more at about £1,750 a round each), and they nearly always come with ‘strings attached’. Having said that, they are locked-in once you’ve paid.
Faraway Fairways explores the pro’s and con’s, for whereas they might be a good solution under certain circumstances, our sense perhaps is that more people buy them than perhaps they really need to
Very often the bottom-line is that provided you’re ‘determined’ to play the Old Course, you will. The ‘walk-up’ rule is really designed for single golfers prevented from making ballot applications, but any golfer who is prepared to queue and can use it. Sure, it’s not exactly convenient, but it does enjoy some surprisingly high strike-rates. There are typically between 15-25 gaps in a tee-sheet each day.
Tip – always worth checking with the Links Trust or Starter the previous day as to what time they recommend queuing from the following morning. They tend to have a pretty good idea how things are going day-to-day
No hole on the Open Championship rotation generates as many bogeys and higher average score to par than the St Andrews ‘Road Hole’, the seventeenth, (Troon’s eleventh generates more triples or worse incidentally)
From a blind drive over the corner of the hotel to an invisible fairway beyond, the approach involves playing to a narrow fairway guarded by a heinous pot bunker at the front that devours anything rolling to close to its tapered contours, and a road and dry stonewall to the rear. The scene of much drama of the decades we explore the anatomy of this most brutal of assignments
It needs to be remembered perhaps that with its ruined old castle and cathedral St Andrews is a legitimate visitor destination regardless of its golf. The town itself has charisma and personality bought about by its university. Consequently it also has more than its fair share of 19th holes too, punching well above its weight. If the sun shines, the town also has an extensive beach made famous by Hollywood