HOW IT WORKS
Let’s be honest, anyone considering this tour is occupied by one big question. What chance have I got of playing the Old Course? The Old Course experiences predictable busy periods during a season. Avoiding these improves your prospects. The biggest obstacle however comes from the way Old Course tee times are allocated, albeit this also offers you an opportunity too. Guaranteed tee times simply aren’t designed for this type of ‘cherry picking’. Guaranteed tee times require that you play a minimum number of courses, stay in specified hotels for a minimum number of nights, and will often be sold at a price well in excess of the standard green fee. You simply can’t use them for a 36 hour ‘raid’!. The only way we can do this then inside the timeframe available to us, is to use ‘the ballot’.
The ballot (as the name suggests) is just that. It’s a lottery of equal chance. We are notified of ballot results 48 hours before teeing off.
So are we telling you that there is a chance you might not be able to play the Old Course? Well we’re afraid ‘yes’, is the simple answer. However much we might try and sugar coat it, there is little doubt that using the ballot does carry an element of risk. Faraway Fairways seek to manage this, and load things in your favour as much as we can, but even this stops short of being guaranteed tee time.
All tee times for Saturday are normally set aside for ballot applications. It’s why we encourage you to arrive in Edinburgh on Friday evening, or as early as possible Saturday morning. The busiest months are the end of May through to the end of September. Your prospects of success during these bottlenecks usually drops, but don’t let that deter you. Sometimes slack periods present themselves even in busy windows.
Uncertainties regarding the ballot is the reason we have a ‘Plan B’ in place. Kingsbarns is frequently ranked in the world’s top-50. Indeed many people seem to hold it in higher regard than St Andrews – contrarian golfers hey! We understand that playing Kingsbarns is bound to generate a bit of an anti-climatic feeling, but this is only because there can only ever be one Old Course. There is little (if anything) inferior about Kingsbarns. It’s a damn good consolation prize!
Kingsbarns are used to having reservations disrupted by cancellations brought about by successful ballot applications. They will endeavour to reschedule your tee time if they can, but if they can’t, you will forfeit the green fee. This ‘loss’ is negligible compared to what a guaranteed package would cost (about 15%). Faraway Fairways will handle any cancellations and arrangements on your behalf. If you get really lucky, you might even find that the times fall in such a way that you’re able to play both!
It is only when you succeed with a ballot application that St Andrews will ask for payment of the green fee (£175 peak season). This is the reason we don’t include it in the price. For all this caution however, your prospects are actually better than you might imagine, but you can enhance them by being flexible in terms of preferred times of the day or months of the year.
Finally, although this tour could theoretically be taken on a whim (a few days notice) we wouldn’t suggest its ideal to do so, and you might find you end up paying more than our guide price. Kingsbarns is a popular course and will need booking in advance, and the Old Course hotel sells out, albeit we would have some fall back options there