The Old Course Ballot

Old Course Ballot – How it works and what are your chances of success

Every year, we are inundated with questions from clients wanting to know their best chances of accessing the Old Course via the Ballot. As the name ‘ballot’ suggests, this really is a lottery and there is no way of defining one’s chance of success, as this will vary from day to day.

However, there are some ways of maximising your chances in the Ballot. We hope that the information below will help you make the most of your opportunity:

  1. Certain days of the week provide greater chances of being successful than others, namely Thursdays and Saturdays. This is because there are no advanced tee times in the afternoon on Thursdays and throughout the whole day on Saturdays, leaving more space for Ballot entries.
  2. If you are spending several days in St Andrews, there may be scope to enter the Ballot on more than one occasion, thus maximising your chances of success. In this instance it would be wise to book your other rounds of golf on courses which are flexible should you be successful and have to change your plans at short notice. Some courses allowing such flexibility are Kingsbarns, the Dukes, Crail, and the Devlin.
  3. You enter the Ballot 48 hours prior to the day of play by 2pm. With regards to your entry, it is best to be as flexible as possible as to when you can play eg A ballot application stands a higher chance of success if you stipulate that you are available to tee off at any time rather than during a specified period of the day.
  4. Please note that there are certain weeks of the year when the Ballot is not operational: 6 May – 9th May is the R&A 2013 Spring Meeting, 29 July – 5 August Woman’s Open Championship, Mon 9-20 Sept is the R&A 2012 Autumn Meeting. The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship also runs from 23 – 30 Sept 2012 so the Ballot will not be operational during these periods.
  5. Our final piece of advice is to avoid travelling in the months of August and September. Demand heavily outweighs supply in these months and your chances of success are between 1 in 5 & 1 in 10. In comparison, it is surprising how fortunate many of our clients are with their first attempt when travelling in the earlier part of the summer.

More fingers are consistently crossed at 4pm in St Andrews than at any other time of day as that is when the Ballot results are announced. Best of luck!