The Swiliken Bridge on the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, home of the 2010 Open Championship
For an individual or a group, tee times on the Old are hard to come by and must be booked months, even up to two years, in advance. About half of the starting times are put into a daily lottery drawn for the next day's play. Also, sometimes individual golfers just hang out to see if they can get into a foursome that is missing a player for some reason.
To obtain a guaranteed tee time in advance on the Old Course on your own, you can place a reservation with the St. Andrews Links Trust; it's a rather complicated procedure. Tee times are often gettable on the other courses that the Trust represents (New Course, Jubilee Course, Eden Course, Strathtyrum Course, Balgove Course, The Castle Course--all gorgeous, highly rated courses).
To bypass the reservation process, look into packages that include accommodations and tee times, such as those offered by these reliable companies:
- Old Course Experience
- Links Golf St Andrews
- Scotland Golf Tours
- Classic Golf Tours
- GolfPac International
The 2010 Open Championship will be at St. Andrews, July 15-18. The last two Opens at St. Andrews were won by Tiger Woods, in 2000 and 2005. For the first time in a century, the famous 17th "Road Hole" is being lengthened, and this will also be the first year of high definition TV broadcast.
Every golfer dreams of a pilgrimage to St. Andrews, the birthplace of the game, the site of the oldest and most revered golf course in the world––the Old Course. From Old Tom Morris to Tom Watson and Tiger Woods, for over six centuries and in more than two dozen British Opens, players have battled the elements on this formidable, true linksland, against bracing winds off the North Sea, in rain and swirling mists, through prickly, knee-high gorse, across rolling dunes and into grassy hollows. You will find no waterfalls or railroad ties, no palm trees; no trees at all, just low mounds and long stretches of scruffy, natural heathers, and brooms, shockingly deep pot bunkers and mammoth double greens, each with two flags, swept dry and hard by the nearly unceasing breath of the sea. Practice your knock-down shots, pitch-and-runs and long, long putts; stay low at all costs.
If you are fortunate enough to snag a tee time on the Old, come early to experience the look and the palpable spirit of the place. Shoulder to shoulder, the picturesque buildings of the ancient town create a backdrop unlike any other in golfdom. Expect an audience on the first tee––a crowd of sightseers, townspeople, caddies and golfers is omnipresent, rapt as the starter calls, “Gentlemen, hit away.” A decent drive earns applause, an errant one gets sympathetic sighs. As you step across the hallowed stones of Swilican Bridge on the finishing hole, look up to see the venerable members of the Royal and Ancient, single malt whiskeys in hand, peering out the bay windows of their clubhouse.
Founder/editor of BestGolfResortsofTheWorld.com, Karen Misuraca is a travel and golf writer from the California Wine Country. She follows the little white ball around the world and blogs about International Golf Travel at www.examiner.com. And, she also maintains a blog on Sustainable Travel.