The daily ballot for the world renowned Old Course is to change from January next year, moving to a 48 hour ahead system of entering for the first time in its history.
For many years golfers have entered the ballot one day ahead of when they wish to play the famous Links but from Saturday, January 7, 2012 golfers will enter two days before.
The change is being made by St Andrews Links Trust, which manages the seven public courses at the Home of Golf, following an extensive consultation exercise with local golfers, local golf clubs, businesses, golf organisations, hoteliers, travel operators and tourism bodies.
The Old Course hosted the Open Championship for the 28th time last July, when Louis Oosthuizen lifted the Claret Jug, and takes more than 40,000 rounds of golf a year in the six days a week it is open for play. The ballot is designed to give golfers who have been unable to book in advance the chance to play when they are in St Andrews.
It is hoped the change to 48 hours ahead will benefit both local and visiting golfers by enabling them to plan their golf more effectively if they know further in advance when they will be playing the Old Course. It will dovetail with the one-day ahead booking system on the Jubilee, Eden and Strathtyrum courses and will enable golfers who have been unsuccessful in the ballot to book an alternative course for the day they want to play. The earlier draw will make it easier for visiting golfers to plan accommodation and travel arrangements and will encourage them to stay longer in St Andrews and play more golf in and around the town.
Euan Loudon, chief executive of St Andrews Links Trust, said, “This is an historic moment of change and one which has been carefully considered by Trustees and the Links Management Committee. The one-day ahead ballot has been in place for a long time but we believe it is now time to change.
“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.”
The 48 hour ahead ballot will be drawn for the first time on Saturday, January, 7, 2012 for play on Monday, January 9, 2012. To enter the ballot requires at least two golfers and they will have to enter their names, home clubs and handicaps by 2pm.
The ballot will take place every day of the week with the exception of Friday as there is no play on the Old Course on Sundays. The entries can be made by phone on 01334 466666 or in person at any of the three clubhouses at the Links. The Trust will continue to communicate the change to golfers throughout the rest of this year, ahead of the changeover in January 2012.
St Andrews Links www.standrews.org.uk