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St Andrews hotels welcome Old Course ballot change
February 25, 2011

The trade body representing hotels and restaurants in St Andrews has welcomed the decision to change the famous Old Course ballot to a 48-hour system which it says will only benefit the Auld Grey Toon. The St Andrews Hotel and Guest House Association, otherwise known as Stayinstandrews, had been instrumental in the drive to change the old 24-hour ballot which many felt left golfers unable to plan their golfing trips effectively.

The Old Course ballot, which was 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 St Andrews . It is hoped the change to a 48-hour system will benefit golfers by letting them know further in advance when and if they will be able to play the Old Course.

"The 24-hour ballot was one of many idiosyncrasies of playing the Old Course," said Stephen Owen, president of Stayinstandrews. "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 organisation which manages the seven public courses at the Home of Golf including the Old Course. It followed an extensive consultation programme that engaged with numerous local golfers, golf clubs, golf organisations, hoteliers, travel operators and tourism bodies, of which Stayinstandrews was one.

"We approached the Links Trust regarding the ballot a number of years ago," noted 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 Saturday 7th January 2012, the announcement has already sparked 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 Stayinstandrews are pleased to have played a part in its development."

Euan Loudon, chief executive of St Andrews Links Trust, said, "The consensus among the many different people and organisations we consulted, including Stayinstandrews, was in favour 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 ."

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