how long is golf round

How Long Does 18 Holes of Golf Take?

How Long Does It Take to Play 18 Holes of Golf?

You can usually expect to play 18 holes of golf in 3-5 hours, with the average round of golf taking about 4 hours to complete. However, delays from slow play and groups taking forever in front of you can slow down a golf round and it could take 5 hours or more.

A golf round that takes longer than 4 hours is typically frowned upon. Golf course Marshalls will often drive around the course and give warnings to groups that are playing slow and holding up all of the groups behind them.

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Examples of Fast Golf Play

During high school, I would play by myself quite often on weeknights when the course was pretty empty. The fastest I ever played a round of golf was just over an hour and half using a golf cart. I made the turn after the first 9 holes at 45 minutes and kept a similar pace on the back 9 holes, coming in under 2 hours for 18 holes.

Playing with 1 other person, a golf round could take 2.5 hours on the fast end.

Playing with 2 other players, a golf round of 3 hours would be considered fast.

Playing as a foursome in 3 hours or better is considered a fast golf round.

Examples of Slow Golf Play

Slow golf is considered when a round takes longer than average. For example, a 5+ hour round of golf is hard to handle for most players and leaves golfers quite unhappy. It’s considered a slow round of golf.

For a group of 4 players, it should take 4 hours to 4.5 hours at most. The longest golf round I’ve seen is over 6 hours and it was frustrating.

Slow golf rounds involve lots of waiting. Every tee shot we had to sit and wait on the tee box for 15 minutes while the group ahead of us cleared out of the way.

It wasn’t uncommon to get to a tee box and see one or more groups at the tee box waiting still. This creates a jam and backlog of golfers sitting and waiting on the same hole.

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Factors That Affect How Long a Golf Round Takes

Course Congestion

Some days are just busier than others. Everyone has the same idea to go play a round of golf and this leads to a golf course getting pretty congested!

The pro shop will do there best to book tee times 15 minutes apart usually to create some separation and set some capacity limits to how many players can fit on a golf course during the day.

But we know that players show up late and things happen that cause delays for start times which can have a domino effect for all the tee times behind them.

Number of Players in a Group

When there are more players in a group, the golf round tends to take longer. This makes sense because there are more golfers who have to take their turn and this causes the other golfers to have to wait longer before its their turn again.

Proper golf etiquette is the player farthest from the hole goes first. Once they hit, then the next farthest player will play their shot and so on.

Walking vs Riding

Riding in a golf cart generally speeds up a golf round if there aren’t groups in front of you to wait on, slowing you down. In this case, it can take just as long to walk the golf course as it does to ride the golf cart since you’ll get stopped on each hole anyway, waiting for the group ahead to finish.

Check out our article about walking the golf course and how many calories you can burn.

Skill Level of Players

A group of skilled golfers will play faster than a group of beginners. Skilled golfers can keep the ball in play, hit longer shots, and find their ball faster.

The main reason golf courses get jammed up is when a group is having a difficult time playing well. They’re constantly searching for their golf ball and taking extra swings to get the ball on the green. This all adds up to longer golf rounds.

Course Layout

Longer golf courses can take longer than shorter golf courses since they require more swings to get the ball from tee to green.

Courses with long distances between holes can take longer as well if players are walking. There is more time spent between holes getting from one putting green to the next tee box.

Course Difficulty

Difficulty of a golf course also impacts the time it takes to play the round of golf. Courses with lots of hazards can slow play down as golfers spend more time searching for their ball in the water, tall fescue grass, or someone’s back yard.

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Tips to Speed Up Play on a Golf Course

Play Ready Golf

This means getting to your golf shot quickly and being ready to go when it’s your turn. While your playing partners are taking their turns, you should be choosing your golf club, assessing your lie, picking out your shot, and taking practice swings.

As soon as it’s your turn you should be ready to make your swing and move on. Having to wait on a player who isn’t ready to hit yet can get frustrating when golfers are trying to play a faster golf round.

Play Out of Turn

If your group is on board with trying to play a faster round of golf, you can decide as group to play out of turn. This means ditching the normal golf etiquette of taking turns, playing farthest from the hole first.

If one member of the group is searching for their ball in the woods, everyone else in the group should consider hitting their shots first to get them out of the way and then go help that player find his/her ball.

This way the group only has one player left to take its turn and can proceed forward down the fairway quicker.

Be On Time to Your Tee Time

If you’re late to your tee time, you may cause a delay for groups behind you and this can bottleneck things for the golf course. Aim to arrive to the golf course a half hour early so you can check in, use the restroom, and get some practice reps in before your tee time.

Pick Up the Ball Once a Certain Bad Score Is Reached

Decide with your playing group that once a golfer has reached a certain score above par on a hole that it’s okay to pick up the golf ball and not finish the hole. Let the other players finish out who are playing well and move to the next hole.

For example, maybe 5 over par is the threshold for a maximum score to take on a hole. If you are playing a par 5 and you’ve already taken 10 strokes, maybe it’s time to consider picking up your ball and writing down the 10 to save time.

Let Faster Groups Go Ahead of You

You’ll often find that if a group is playing slow, they’ll get self-conscious about it. They notice the groups behind them waiting on them every hole. This usually leads to the slow group allowing the faster group behind them to pass through and go ahead of them.

If you are the slow group, consider pulling your group aside at the next tee box and wait for the group behind you to finish the hole and catch up to your tee box. Tell them to play through and let them skip ahead of you on the golf course.

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