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New Solution for Old Course Queues

The infamous singles queueing system at St Andrews’ prestigious Old Course will soon be a thing of the past. Since the 1990s, players seeking a singles time on the Old Course (i.e. if their group ballot was unsuccessful) were required to apply to join a smaller group on the morning of play on a first come first serve basis. Over the past decade, numbers increased to such an extent that many golfers had to queue overnight, often in terrible weather, in the hope of being offered a tee time the next morning. 


As of 12 March, the physical queueing system has been replaced by a random draw. Under the new, digital system, golfers can now enter their details in person at the golf pavilion or clubhouse between 9:00 and 17:00 the day before they wish to play. At 17:00, the random draw takes place and successful candidates are notified by text of their allocated tee time.


“For many golfers, playing the Old Course is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Chief Executive of St Andrews Links Trust Neil Coulson said. “The new singles daily draw will ensure golfers successful in securing a tee time can enjoy the experience having had a good night’s sleep while maintaining the practice of allowing single golfers to join pre-existing groups of two or three.” Coulson said he hoped it would make securing a tee time “safer, more equitable and ultimately a more enjoyable experience.”


The new process still requires prospective golfers to be present in St Andrews when they apply to protect the original intention of the singles queue. Golfers will be photographed as they enter the draw to ensure that they neither give away tee times nor submit multiple entries in one day.  Unsuccessful applicants will be added to a waiting list and may still be able to snap up last-minute tee times.


This change has invited some speculation as to why it has taken so long to implement the new system and why golfers had been, until a week ago, forced to brave the often harsh Fife weather overnight. 


Asked by The Saint about the timescale for the change, Old Course spokesperson David Conner said that the old process “was unique and had become well established,” and that “it was important to take the time to replace it with something that would not only maintain the tradition of single golfers being able to access a time but that would also stand up to the increasing demand in the future.”


Some golfers, however, are inclined to question the change. Local caddy, Dan McNamara, for example, expressed some concern. “I understand that the previous system seems archaic to some people,” he told The Saint in an interview. “But the old system of getting up, queuing and earning your spot on the Old Course, I think, shows the dedication and grit of golfers worldwide and allows those who desperately want to play the course to get on the course.”

Image by Wikimedia Commons

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