Golf takes a long time. There is no way around it; golf is more of a marathon than a sprint. As a pro, I love fast golf. If I can keep myself moving around the golf course and enjoy fast play, I simply play better.
Unfortunately, most of us end up getting stuck behind a slow player at some point in our golf career. It’s incredibly stressful and makes it difficult to plan out your day. So if you are wondering how long a round of golf takes, we have you covered.
In addition, we will provide some tips to make your next round of golf considerably faster!
How long does it take to play a round of golf?
A round of golf takes between 4 and 5 hours to play when you have a foursome of golfers. For a single person playing a round of golf, it can go as fast as two hours, but the course will need to be open or clean in front. Nine holes of golf typically take anywhere from 2 to 2.5 hours.
The most challenging thing about trying to determine how long a round of golf takes is factoring in all of the other things that will come into play. There are so many reasons that golf can be slow or fast, and it’s hard to get them all to line up.
One thing I have learned is that if I play fast, I need to be careful about where and when I play. In addition, it’s great to teach other players about the benefit of fast play and why it matters for the rest of the golf course.
Factors Affecting The Time Taken to Complete a Round of Golf
Several factors will impact the length of time it takes you to complete a round of golf. If you are wondering how long a round of golf takes for one person, we can tell you it is considerably faster.
The key to remember here is that some of these factors will be in your control, and others will be completely out of your control. The key is to be smart about where, when, and how you play; you may get in quicker rounds!
Number of People In Your Group
The standard golf group has four people.
This has been part of the game for hundreds of years, and it’s likely not going to change anytime soon. Most of the estimates you see for golf round times will be based on four people.
When you drop down to 3, 2, and 1 person, the rounds technically get considerably shorter. However, this is not always the case because of the golfers in front of you.
Sometimes there are so many groups of slow players in front of you that it won’t matter whether or not you have 4 or even 1 person in your group. Of course, players should let fast groups play through, but on a busy golf course, you won’t notice that to be the case.
This by no means suggests that you should not play golf in a foursome; it’s just a factor to consider when determining the total length of golf rounds.
Golf Course Conditions
Golf course conditions can make a round of golf slower. Some golf courses are extremely wet from a lot of rain, and this causes you to have to walk to your ball. In addition, your shoes will get wet, and your ball won’t travel as far; the end result is a slower round.
In addition to golf course conditions impacting your round, expect to be affected by the terrain. For instance, a mountain course is a physically demanding challenge, which can cause you a bit more distress on the golf course.
By the time you are climbing a mountain up to the 18th tee, you will certainly not be moving as fast, and it will slow down the pace of play. These types of golf courses often have a front nine-time that is considerably faster than a back nine-time.
Golf Course Difficulty
The more difficult the golf course, the longer it will take to play.
You can look at how challenging a golf course is by looking at the slope and rating. This will give you information on whether or not the course is even something you should be playing.
There are courses like Bethpage Black that require extreme attention to detail, and the length and difficulty make it tough for you to even get around the course. In fact, this golf course is known for having a sign on the first tee that warns golfers of its difficulty.
The problem with difficult golf courses is that people not equipped to play them will get out there and start trying. This means they will make double and triple bogeys, which takes time.
If you want to play faster golf, make sure you match your playing ability with the difficulty of the golf course. This will benefit everyone involved.
Chances are, when you think about playing a round of golf, you imagine warm sunny weather. We all do!
Playing golf in great weather makes the game more enjoyable, and everything moves along much more smoothly. However, things start to slow down when you encounter poor weather on the golf course.
Both rain and wind can slow down the pace of play. When it’s rainy, players will spend time drying their grips and cleaning the dirt off of their clubs. The key to playing great golf in the rain is staying dry, and it can be tough to do so.
Check out our article on the best golf shirt for hot weather.
When it’s windy, the golf ball will be taken over by the wind. This leaves many players feeling as though they have lost control and the golf ball can truly fly anywhere. With unpredictable weather, it’s important to remember that the rounds of golf you play in poor weather will be much slower.
Things like this are completely out of your control but will absolutely impact the length of time you are on the course.
Walking vs. Riding
Walking the golf course is a great way to get exercise. By the time you have completed an entire walk around the course, you will end up walking five miles or more. This is a great way to get in shape while playing a game you love.
However, some people are concerned that walking the golf course slows things down.
The good news is that after doing numerous studies on the length of time that it takes to play golf, walking the course does not slow you down all that much.
In fact, walking can actually be faster at times.
The only time you will notice that walking may slow you down is when you play golf by yourself on an empty golf course. If you had a cart, you might be able to zip around within about two to two and a half hours.
While walking, that becomes a bit more difficult.
Outside of that, when playing in a foursome on a day when the golf course is filled with people, expect that both walking and riding will take about the same amount of time.
Walking allows you to get right to your golf ball. Many golf courses have cart paths that are far away from the golf ball. The distance you end up having to walk to the golf ball makes you spend more time.
In addition, when getting closer to the green, you can bring your push cart up close, and you won’t be struggling with running back and forth to the cart to get your putter and gear.
Tees You Play From
The golf course has several sets of tees. At the very least, you may find that the course has a championship tee, a men’s tee, and a ladies’ tee. However, some courses have five or six sets of tees to accommodate different types of golfers.
The key here is to know what kind of a player you are, how far you hit the golf ball, and what tees you should be playing from.
Playing from the championship tees when you can’t break 100 will slow down the round of golf you are playing.
Choose a tee based both on the distance that you can hit the ball and the ability you have to get the ball close to the hole. If you are a player who struggles with accuracy and distance, don’t play from so far back; it will slow everything down.
Your golf handicap will adjust based on the tees you play from, so this is fair to do.
Tee Time Intervals
Some golfers send groups out to play every ten minutes, others every eight, and sometimes even 6 or 12.
The golf course comes up with the tee time intervals based on the amount of time they think it takes to play the hole and how many groups they want on the golf course at one time. With large tee time intervals, expect a better pace of play.
Short tee time intervals are a sign of a busy golf course, which could impact your time spent.
Groups In Front of You
Another fact you won’t have control over is the groups in front of you on the golf course. When a golf course has lots of players out there, it can hold you up and slow down the pace of your round.
Luckily, there are sometimes rangers out there that will help to speed things up and keep the groups moving along.
Most of the time, the fair thing to do is let a faster group play through, but on a full golf course, this is pretty pointless. If the course is empty and you run into a slow group, feel free to play ahead. However, there won’t be much you can do when it’s one group after another.
Time of Day
Rounds of golf tend to be faster early in the morning and later in the afternoon. In the middle of the day, when most golfers are going out to play, expect a slightly slower pace of play. The worst times from a speed of play standpoint are typically around 9 am and will go towards 12 pm.
If you have the ability to avoid these peak times, go ahead and do so. You will enjoy your time out on the golf course much more.
Month of Year
Summertime is when everyone wants to play golf. The weather and the golf course conditions are perfect, so it’s a great experience to get out and play.
However, this means that it will be busy and likely take you a bit longer to complete your round. Instead, think about playing golf all throughout the year. A late fall afternoon may make your round of golf considerably faster and more enjoyable.
Methods to reduce the time taken to complete a round of golf
Now that you understand all of the things that will impact your round of golf, there are some things you can do to speed up the pace of play. These things may not apply to all golfers, but it’s good to have a general idea of how you can do your part to improve the pace of play.
Play Ready Golf
Ready golf is what we call it when you are ready for each of your shots. When your friend is lining up to hit their shot, figure out your yardage, pick your club and start thinking about the shot you would like to hit.
Once your friend has hit their shot, you will be ready to play.
This also comes into play when you talk about the honors method on the tee box. The honors method means that whoever is the person that had the lowest score on the previous hole is the one who goes first.
In theory, this is an excellent way to play. However, when you break down the time that this takes, it can slow down golf. Instead of worrying so much about honors, let the ready person take their shot.
Choosing a proper golf tee to play from means that you are playing a course that is the correct difficulty level for you. When players try to play on a tee that is not the right match, expect the pace of play to slow considerably.
The proper tees include the ones that allow you to make bogeys, pars, and even birdies.
If you are playing from a tee that makes each hole a double bogey because the course is just too long, move up and see if that is a better match. Your handicap will adjust for the shorter distance, but you can enjoy playing golf again.
Park The Cart Properly
So many amateur golfers have no idea how to properly park a golf cart. When you pull up to the green, always pull your cart to just past where the flag is so that it is on the way to the next hole.
After you finish putting out on that hole, you can head over to the cart and then move forward toward the next hole.
Most amateur players pull their cart up until they get just short of the green and then leave it there. The problem with this is that when you are ready to move to the next hole, you have to walk backward to get to the cart.
This is frustrating for the group behind because their waiting times will increase. Always think about parking in a place that helps you keep moving forward.
Play At Proper Times Of Day
If you want to play golf faster, think about the time of the day you are playing. If you are closer to the middle of the day, it’s going to be a much longer round of golf. To keep the pace of play moving forward, play early or late.
Although you want to give each hole the best effort you have, sometimes you have to pick up and move on. Check the USGA handicap system to determine what the maximum score is for your handicap range. If you are a mid-handicapper, chances are the maximum is a 7.
This means that if you are making an 11 on a hole, it’s time to pick up and move on. In fact, anytime after you go higher than that 7 or 8 range, it’s probably time to move on. The scores will count as outliers in your handicap, so it doesn’t matter if you finish the hole.
Chances are you have already spent too much time playing this hole, and it’s best to just move on.
Although it’s not often talked about enough, one of the best ways to improve the pace of play on the golf course is to start to practice. You have to be smart about how you practice if you want it to translate to the golf course, but it is well worth your time and effort to get better.
When you are a better player, the pace of play is naturally faster.
There are fewer swings and less time spent looking for golf balls.
Choose The Right Course
The right course is the one that you can play and not have it feel like it is beating you up. In the example we gave of Bethpage Black, many people go to this course to play a few times per year. However, when they choose a course to play day to day, they get something a little less challenging to play.
The difficulty level of the course you play will fiercely impact the time it takes to get around. Keep that in mind if you want to play fast golf.
Watch Your Ball
Last but certainly not least is a key step that I explain to all beginner golfers. Always watch your golf ball. If you have no idea where your golf ball went, you are going to struggle to play a fast round of golf.
Take a look at where the ball lands and how it reacts, and try to mark it with some kind of landmark so that you are able to find it when you get closer.
Essentially look for a bush, shrub, yardage marker, or something that is very close to the ball so that you can get up to that area and spot it right away.
Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about how long it takes to play 18 holes of golf. As you know, depending on where you play and what the conditions are like, there will be some variations in these numbers.
How long do 18 holes of golf take with a cart?
Playing 18 holes of golf with a cart should take no longer than 4.5 hours. At a public golf course that is busy, it can take up to 6 hours. At a private course where there is less play, it could be anywhere from 3:45 to 4.
How many holes is a round of golf?
A round of golf is 18 holes. However, it is also common to play 9 holes of golf.
What is the 90 rule in golf?
The 90-degree rule in golf simply means that you can take your golf cart across the fairway at a 90-degree angle from where you are currently located. This helps to eliminate some issues on the course with cart traffic and makes it easier for the golf course superintendent to keep the course in great shape.
We hope you now have a full understanding of how long it takes to play golf and why it takes so long to play golf. The experts in the game are very well aware of the issues that we face when it comes to slow play. If you want to help make this less of a problem for golfers everywhere, you must also work on improving your pace of play. As great as the game of golf is, it’s not nearly as much fun when golfers are moving slowly. Simply learn to push forward, be in the right position and watch your ball, and you can help speed up the round for every golfer on the course.