Many golfers, myself included, have found themselves at the mercy of the tee time ballot at the Old Course at St. Andrews.
Beginning in 2012, the ballot, which accounts for nearly half of Old Course tee times, will get a little less suspenseful.
The St. Andrews Links Trust announced it will change its ballot policy next year by announcing results a day earlier than the current policy of revealing tee times the day before. The new 48-hour rule will apply to everyone entering the ballot: locals, tour operators and visitors in the area booking their own times.
Chief Executive of the Links Trust, Euan Loudon said in a statement:
“We hope the 48 hour ahead system will help local golfers plan their golf and will encourage visiting golfers to stay longer in St Andrews and play more golf while they are here. The feedback we have received from many travel operators and hotel and guest house owners suggests it will make it easier for them to plan their clients’ golf itineraries.”
For golf travelers, the move makes plenty of sense. You'll have more time to find last-minute golf options around Fife – or reschedule courses that you had booked on the day you're awarded an Old Course spot. St. Andrews offers last-minute tee times on their Eden, Jubilee and Strathtyrum courses, and the New course is also walk-on friendly.
Other courses around Fife are familiar with the Old Course ballot and the challenges it can impose on travel planning. Many courses, like nearby Crail Golfing Society, allows golfers to rebook their tee time in the event they make the ballot on the day they are scheduled on one of their links.
It will be interesting to see if it impacts the number of tee times requested on the ballot. Does an extra 24-hour grace period mean more golf travelers will give the ballot a chance?
For more details or daily ballot results, visit www.standrews.org.uk.
And just remember, keep a handicap certificate in your wallet when you're in St. Andrews, because you just never know when a slot will open up.