How Can I Play St Andrews?

For many lovers of the game, no place is more special than the Home of Golf, but can you play there?

A view of the 11th hole at The Old Course, St Andrews
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For many golf fans, there are a handful of courses high on bucket lists to play. For some, that could be the breathtaking, flower-laden beauty of Augusta National, while for others, it may be the spectacular links play of Pebble Beach with its famously tiny greens.

For many more, though, the Home of Golf itself, St Andrews, is clear number one thanks to the long and storied history of The Old Course and the many features that set it apart from anywhere else. If you want to marvel at architectural brilliance, it’s in the classical stylings of the R&A Clubhouse. If you want one of the most iconic landmarks in golf, you can admire it with the Swilcan Bridge. If you want to be enveloped by centuries of history, you can walk it on every step of the world-famous rolling fairways.

Swilcan Bridge with the R&A clubhouse in the background at The Old Course, St Andrews

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Of course, the holes are among the most challenging in the world, too, in particular the 17th, which features not just a blind tee shot that needs to be hit over the corner of the Old Course Hotel, but also a truly intimidating bunker. In fact, that bunker is just one of many throughout The Old Course - 112, to be precise, and they all have names, as do the holes they're positioned among. Then there's the final hole, which seems relatively straightforward - until you encounter the eight-foot deep depression, the Valley of Sin, standing between your ball and the green. 

The Road bunker on the 17th at The Old Course, St Andrews

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St Andrews doesn’t start and end with The Old Course, though. There are six other courses, from the beginner-friendly Balgove Course to the strikingly manicured outlier, the cliff-top located Castle Course. There’s also The New Course, The Jubilee Course, The Eden Course and The Strathtyrum Course, each offering something a little different, and catering to any skill level.

With so much history, you’d think playing the Old Course, at least, would be next to impossible, but it's surprisingly straightforward. Brilliantly, each course at St Andrews is open to any member of the public, with one caveat – a handicap certificate is required to play The Old Course.

The green on the 386 yards par 4, 14th hole on The New Course, St Andrews

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Green fees for the Old Course range between £98 ($119) and £270 ($329), depending on the time of year you play. The New Course and The Jubilee Course charges between £23 ($28) and £120 ($146) based on age (under 16s have reduced fees) and the time of year. The Eden Course charges between £14 ($17) and £60 ($73). The Strathtyrum Course fees are between £8 ($10) and £40 ($48) and the Balcove Course charges between £3 ($4) and £15 ($18).

Additionally, there is a range of packages incorporating offers including multiple rounds and food and drinks credits for the Clubhouse, with prices between £100 ($122) and £280 ($340).

How To Get A Guaranteed Tee Time

There are several ways to book a round on any of the courses. However, The Old Course is a little more difficult as you’ll need to go through a traditional ballot. The ballot is drawn 48 hours in advance of play. Single golfers with suitable handicaps without an existing tee time are advised to visit the Old Pavilion on the day of play, where staff will try to pair them with a two or three-ball group.

You can guarantee a tee time at any other course via the online booking system, where a limited number of tee times are available. However, a minimum of two players per tee time are required.

If you only want to play the Balgove Course, you usually don’t need to make a booking, although that has been temporarily suspended due to Covid restrictions.

Can Anyone Play?

All seven courses at St Andrews are open to the public. Tee times can be booked online, although if you want to play The Old Course, tee times are allocated through a traditional ballot. One requirement for playing The Old Course is a handicap certificate. The other six courses are open to everyone.

Why Is St Andrews So Famous?

Regarded as the Home of Golf, St Andrews hosted the first Open at The Old Course in 1873, with Tom Kidd the winner. Golf has been played at the site since the 15th century and The Old Course is the oldest in the world.

Why Is St Andrews The Home Of Golf?

St Andrews, and in particular The Old Course, is generally regarded as the Home of Golf because the sport has been played on the site since the early 15th Century. The Old Course opened in 1552 with The New Course following over 300 years later, in 1895.

Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.