Golfers will soon have more ways to get a round on the Old Course.
In April 2018, the St. Andrews Links will control all distribution of commercial tee times, ending a long-standing partnership with Old Course Experience, a vendor that distributed guaranteed Old Course tee times for the past 20 years.
The contract was signed in 1995 (the year John Daly won the British Open), and the St. Andrews Links Trust went into partnership with Old Course Experience, handing over a fixed number of tee times on the highly desired Old Course. In turn, Old Course Experience became the only operator to offer a guaranteed tee time on the Old Course, which it sold in premium packages to golfers wanting a secured slot. For example, Old Course Experience's base package for 2016 offers three rounds of golf (one on the Old Course), three nights accommodation, daily lunches and airport shuttles. Pricing for those packages ranged from $3,350 to $3,630 depending on the hotel and timing of the trip.
Alternatively, the cost of one round on the Old ranges from $129 to $258 when booking directly via the St. Andrews Links, winning the daily ballot or being first in line to see the starter. Starting in 2018, the St. Andrews Links will control all tee times, which will be spread out to multiple tour operators allowing golfers more avenues to get on the Old Course without having to splurge for a luxury package or camp out in line at the starter's hut.
The initial partnership back in 1995 resulted from a need to continue the development of the facilities throughout the Home of Golf. From 1985-95, the Links Trust made a variety of upgrades including the development of the Strathtyrum and Balgove courses, an upgrade of the Jubilee Course, the creation of Golf Academy, and the installation of an irrigation system that totaled more than $10 million. To continue that level of investment, the partnership with Old Course Experiences was created and resulted in the ability for the Links Trust to maintain all seven courses and the creation of the Links Clubhouse and Jubilee Greenkeeping Center.
"Our partnership has been beneficial to the Links and played a significant role in transforming our landscape over the years," Euan Loudon, chief executive of St. Andrews Links, said in a press release. "Using some of our highly sought after Old Course tee times for commercial use has helped improve the condition of our courses, assisted with the development of a number of new facilities and enhanced the reputation and renown of St. Andrews to a global audience."
More access to Old Course tee times? Good news for golfers everywhere.