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Old Course and Scotland trip

A group of 8 of us are looking to book a trip to Scotland in June of 2020. It needs to revolve around the Old Course. For those of you that have done this what do you recommend? We were getting prices from several companies who can get guaranteed tee times to play the OC. When is the best time to book and how long out? I believe the lottery will be this August to see if we can get tee times slotted. Currently these companies have us playing Old Course, Carnustiee, Kingsbarnes, Jubilee, and the Castle Course. We are getting prices from $4500-$5500 + flights. Thanks for the advice.

Comments

  • CallWhiteyCallWhitey Members Posts: 24 ✭✭
    You need to book your times through the lottery and then add the other courses around whatever date the Old Course gives you. The golf companies typically charge ridiculous fees for guaranteeing you a time. Just do a little leg work yourself and save a good bit of cash. Enjoy your trip!
  • ClambakeClambake Advanced Members Posts: 602 ✭✭
    edited March 10
    Agree with the above. Before my first trip to Scotland I figured I’d use one of the booking companies, but when I deconstructed their quotes using hotel rack rates and directly-booked tee times, I found they basically were charging between $1500 to $2000 for The Old Course. I’m not against paying a premium for someone providing a service, but it seemed excessive to me (I also know they’re securing trade rates for hotels so they’re actually pocketing even more) so I read Ferguson’s book and did it all myself. I found that although it was a bit of work I actually enjoyed the process. Most of the courses are easily booked online as are hotels, but I enjoyed dealing directly with the booking secretaries at the clubs - they’re all delightfully friendly and helpful. Adding up the time it took for me to do all the research and work I figured I probably “earned” about $800 per hour for my time, and that’s not even counting the savings for my friends. Not a bad job!
  • dcmidnightdcmidnight Marshals, BST Volunteer Mods Posts: 11,489 mod
    edited March 11
    Cmoney710 wrote:


    A group of 8 of us are looking to book a trip to Scotland in June of 2020. It needs to revolve around the Old Course. For those of you that have done this what do you recommend? We were getting prices from several companies who can get guaranteed tee times to play the OC. When is the best time to book and how long out? I believe the lottery will be this August to see if we can get tee times slotted. Currently these companies have us playing Old Course, Carnustiee, Kingsbarnes, Jubilee, and the Castle Course. We are getting prices from $4500-$5500 + flights. Thanks for the advice.




    For 8 of you? If you have to play the Old Course I would pay up for it - and dont listen to anyone else here including me lol. Make sure though that they are one of the official providers and not just pretending to have access to the times.



    In high season you will have almost no chance of winning the daily lottery for four of you - let alone 8. In high season you will also have to sleep overnight in line to guarantee yourself a spot and even then - you aren't getting out together. Most likely a few of you will get out before noon but the rest will be sprinkled throughout the day. First week in August last year, also high season, our foursome got in line two nights, getting there at 2am. The first time we were 13-16 in line and missed. The second time we were 5th or so and got on.



    If it was me personally and I was doing it all over again and had to have the OC - I would pay up. Waiting until October is not ideal either because at that point, who knows if those guaranteed spots would still be available.



    My advice would probably be different if you were just a single. But for 8 if you have to play the OC, I would definitely pay up.
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  • MignuzMignuz Advanced Members Posts: 102
    You have to split your group in 2 4some anyway.

    Your chances to play are quite high if you book in the 2 weeks window in august 2019.

    You basically choose a main period (for example: from 1st to 5th june) and then you can choose two other periods in the case that the days you chose are unavailable.

    Then wait until october to have a response and then book your flights.

    Maybe a group of four could play the 1st june and the other may play the 2nd june, but if you delcalre a large window of days you can almost certainly play.

    Then you book the other courses as carnoustie; kingsbarns is quite easy to fit in.

    Doing it ourselves we played TOC, carnoustie, Gleneagles, new course, castle course, lundin links and Torrance in 5 days and spent more or less 1.500€ including stay in a B&B, lunch and flights (but flights were only 150€ ).

    You can really spend a reasonable price for playing...just count that the fee for the courses you mentioned are more or less £ 750,00 and for a good B&B you spend about 50£/night.

    I think you can spend half of what is asking the company, but you have to organise everything...which, for me, is part of the fun.
  • Roadking2003Roadking2003 Advanced Members Posts: 4,923 ✭✭
    CallWhitey wrote:


    You need to book your times through the lottery and then add the other courses around whatever date the Old Course gives you. The golf companies typically charge ridiculous fees for guaranteeing you a time. Just do a little leg work yourself and save a good bit of cash. Enjoy your trip!




    The odds of getting eight golfers on for specific dates via the lottery are probably just above zero.
  • dcmidnightdcmidnight Marshals, BST Volunteer Mods Posts: 11,489 mod


    The odds of getting eight golfers on for specific dates via the lottery are probably just above zero.




    I think thats being optimisitc lol.



    Another thing to keep in mind in high season is that the course will be closed several days per month for events - in addition to being closed every Sunday. You can Google "Old Course Busy Dates" to get an idea when those are this season. Some days the course will be straight closed or there will be no ballot - some days it will be booked until say 2 or 3pm, I consider that "mostly closed". Last year I think in August it was closed for 4 days and "mostly closed" for 6. So that packs in all of the applicants to an even smaller number of days. And considering that most mornings the R&A/locals have a large chunk of the tee times before noon - the pickings get even slimmer.
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  • davep043davep043 Advanced Members Posts: 2,958 ✭✭
    Lots of good advice. I don't know how much things have changed, but I was able to get tee times on the Old Course, for 8 players, in both May 2011 and June 2012 through the Advance Reservation system. If that works for you, that's the best and cheapest way to do the trip, because you can play whatever courses you want, and stay wherever you want. In your shoes, and assuming the Old Course is essential, I might make a reservation through an Authorized Provider who can guarantee your tee times on the Old Course, as long as you can cancel with minimal penalty. If you're successful in October with Advance Reservations, cancel those arrangements and make your own, and save lots of money. Arranging tee times at other courses and lodging should be no problem.
  • Roadking2003Roadking2003 Advanced Members Posts: 4,923 ✭✭
    davep043 wrote:


    Lots of good advice. I don't know how much things have changed, but I was able to get tee times on the Old Course, for 8 players, in both May 2011 and June 2012 through the Advance Reservation system. If that works for you, that's the best and cheapest way to do the trip, because you can play whatever courses you want, and stay wherever you want. In your shoes, and assuming the Old Course is essential, I might make a reservation through an Authorized Provider who can guarantee your tee times on the Old Course, as long as you can cancel with minimal penalty. If you're successful in October with Advance Reservations, cancel those arrangements and make your own, and save lots of money. Arranging tee times at other courses and lodging should be no problem.




    I think that was before they changed the system. Now it's a lottery and if you are going during peak times, good luck.



    We were there two years ago and tried to get on via the lottery. None of us got on.



    TOC has the worst tee time system in the world.
  • hodographhodograph Members Posts: 18 ✭✭
    My foursome went over in June 2018...planned it all ourselves using Ferguson's book. We were unsuccessful in the October 2017 advance ballot, but we were able to get on TOC via the 48 hour ballot. My understanding is only about 25% of the available start times are allocated via the Advance Ballot.



    My feeling is that if you want to play TOC as two groups of four, you're probably going to need to work with/pay the tour operators. If you're able to be more flexible, and you're in St Andrews for an entire week, everyone will likely get on TOC at some point via the 48 hr ballot or the "2 AM wakeup call" method.



    All of the other courses you listed are much easier to book online or via email, and they are willing to move reservations around to accommodate last minute TOC related changes.
  • gerdygerdy Members Posts: 14 ✭✭
    If you want to go with 8, I would really suggest using a service. Yes it will cost you more. Yes you are correct with your assessment of $1,500-$2,000 more. My response, who cares.



    I went with four, and we invited other people to see if we could get to 8, we got stuck on 6, just the 4 of us went. We used Experience St. Andrews on a referral from friends. We didn't have to do a thing, literally. We went to other sections of the country as well besides St. Andrews. All we had to do was get our luggage out of our rooms, when we were done playing the driver had the van packed, beer iced, and we were off.



    If I were going back with 4, I would plan myself and take a chance with the lottery as I have already played the Old Course. If I didn't win the lottery in September, I would do the Daily Ballot, if I didn't play it, I wouldn't lose sleep over it.



    If I was going back with 8, I would use The Experience again. It's not worth the hassle. Everything needs to be paid for up front. Guys are going to want to use their own Credit Cards, you are going to be chasing people for money. Pay the extra freight and you don't have to think about a thing.



    If you are doing something that is a bucket list does it really matter the cost. Your spending $3,500 hundred to play golf, if they told you it was $5,000 would you say no? The trip costs more than you think, get that through your mind. We did everything first class, from Hotels to dinners to flights, everyone had their own room ect. I think the package from The Experience was $6,700. I am sure I spent double that between air, caddies, pro shops, food, drinking ect. When you look back for your first trip make it fun.



    If you are going back in the future try to do it more economically.



    Just my thoughts,



    G
  • tideridertiderider Advanced Members Posts: 1,313 ✭✭
    edited March 12
    what gerdy said ... do you plan on going back? ... if this is probably the only trip you'll make, then pay the service ... that is the only way to get 8 on ... pay and be done with it, knowing you'll have a tee time at TOC ... as roadking said, getting 8 on is virtually no chance ... and their prices go up after the lottery, if they have any slots remaining ...
  • Cmoney710Cmoney710 Members Posts: 28
    This is great advice. I think as the past few mentioned to go with the service and just pay and get it over with so we can play and not sweat all the details. Has anyone ever used Sullivan golf? They have come back with the best prices and had an extra round of golf included.
  • Cmoney710Cmoney710 Members Posts: 28
    For those of you who used booking companies, are you able to negotiate at all?
  • spezza11spezza11 Advanced Members Posts: 535
    Lots of info and video on the walk up by chance method

    Go to bed early or stay and and pub it up late

    Get up early around 3am or head down from the pub

    Go line up

    Almost assured to get a tee time

    You may have to break up the group so unless this is the most important thing for your I think it can be great part of the experience and fun of going. It’s lifetime trip! Again to each their own

    For me I would do the early lineup
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  • duffer987duffer987 Don't feed the Choo. Canadian in CaliforniaAdvanced Members Posts: 8,891 ✭✭
    edited March 14
    In the obvious order:
    • Do the advanced ballot later this year
    • Do the 48hr ballot in person for a few nights, selecting the caddy option
    • Join the queue


    Some combination of those 3 things will see the eight of you play TOC at least once.

    First hand experience and anecdotally that's it. You'll all get out and play.

    You can easily stay in town for 3 or 4 nights, book Kingsbarns and Carnoustie and leave days open for the 48hr ballot. You get TOC you got play there, you don't you go to one of the other courses in town.



    I can understand wanting a guaranteed time, so if you have some who will only travel with one, then there's your decision made. We went with 6 a few years back in June without any times prearranged, we did the ballot and all 6 of us played TOC twice. We went 3/4 on the ballot and two of us got out when they asked us if we wanted to go out while we were on our way down to the New course.
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