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St. Andrews to Change Ballot System in 2012


The trade body representing hotels and restaurants in St. Andrews, Scotland, is welcoming a decision to change the Old Course ballot to a 48-hour system.

The St. Andrews Hotel and Guest House Association, also known as Stay in St. Andrews, was instrumental in changing the old 24-hour ballot that many felt left golfers unable to effectively plan their visits.

The Old Course ballot, devised to give golfers a chance to play the famous links even if they hadn't booked a tee time, has become a key part of playing golf in "The Home of Golf." It's hoped the change to a 48-hour system will benefit players by letting them know further in advance when and if they can play the Old Course.

"The 24-hour ballot was one of many idiosyncrasies of playing the Old Course," said Stephen Owen, president of Stay in St. Andrews. "It was down to fate if you got a tee time, which meant anyone could get a game, but it didn't provide you with much leeway in terms of arranging your stay. The new system will give visitors the information they need to enjoy their visit rather than being forced into making last-minute arrangements. As a result, it's a move that our members fully endorse."

The change is being implemented by St. Andrews Links Trust, the charitable organization that manages the seven public local links, including the Old Course. The decision followed an extensive program that engaged numerous golfers, golf clubs, organizations, hoteliers, travel operators and tourism bodies.

The ballot will take place every day of the week, with the exception of Friday as there is no play on the Old Course on Sundays.

"We approached the Links Trust regarding the ballot a number of years ago," added Owen. "We were obviously delighted when they decided to make the change following the consultation, after all it's a historic decision that will change the way people visit the 'Home of Golf.' I can see only benefits coming from it."

Although the new ballot won't be drawn for the first time until next year on January 7th, the announcement has already sparked positive reactions from key industry players. "I feel that whatever happens in St. Andrews, there will always be debate," said Owen. "Ultimately, this is a change for the better and we at Stay in St. Andrews are pleased to have played a part in its development."

Euan Loudon, chief executive of St. Andrews Links Trust, added, "The consensus among the many different people and organizations we consulted, including Stay in St. Andrews, was in favor of changing the ballot to 48 hours ahead. We believe this is an important change which will make it easier for people to plan their golf in St Andrews."

About Stay in St. Andrews

This group is an association made up of 42 individual hotels and guest houses in St. Andrews. Members include country house hotels, guest houses and restaurants. For more information, visit www.stayinstandrews.com.

For more information about the Old Course ballot, visit www.standrews.org.uk.