How (Not) to Play Golf in St. Andrews, Scotland

The Old Course

How not to play golf in St. Andrews, Scotland, aka Home of Golf? Even if you absolutely adore playing golf and have always dreamed of playing golf in Scotland, like my husband? It’s really quite easy:

Old Course, St. Andrews1. Go to Scotland on your babymoon with your pregnant wife (me), who does not play golf.
2. Promise that you will only ditch said pregnant wife (me again) for the day if you can play on the legendary Old Course.
3. Attempt to get a tee time for the Old Course only two weeks before you’ll be in St. Andrews.

Well, my golf-loving husband found plenty of other things to do during our 24 hours in St. Andrews during this past August. We went to the St. Andrews Castle and the ruins of the St. Andrew Cathedral, and also just strolled around the charming town. He also went to the British Golf Museum, which turned out to be a pale substitute for actually playing golf.

So now you might be wondering how to play golf in St. Andrews. This is also quite easy:

Old Course golfers1. Be willing to play on a course other than the Old Course. There are six other golf courses managed by the St. Andrews Link Trust, and they’re all supposed to be terrific.
2. Book your Old Course tee time well in advance. The most desirable slots fill up each September for the following year! However, the official website says there are still some reservations left in November or December, for the brave.
3. Enter the daily ballot, which is drawn each day for play the following day.
4. Go early the day you want to play and try to get a tee time — you might get lucky. Single golfers can approach the Starter on the day they wish to play and he will try to slot them in with groups going out that day. This is what my husband should have done, but it seemed like a hassle with our limited time in St. Andrews (we were off to Scone Palace the next day).
5. Buy your way in with the St. Andrews Experience. Yes, it’s very expensive, but then convenience often is: this golf-travel company lets you choose which days you want to play The Old Course.
6. Become friends with a member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, whose clubhouse is situated behind the first tee of the Old Course. The R & A does not own the Old Course, but they can probably help you out with a tee time.

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