How Long Does It Take to Golf 18 Holes? Updated For 2022

Golf is one of those sports that is often played during our spare time as a pastime for relaxation. However, not every golfer has the same amount of leisure available, especially when compared to athletes who devote their lives to their professions.

Less time to golf usually comes from obligations like work or family, and nobody wants to miss something important because they miscalculated how long their game would take.

While we cannot give you an exact answer, we can give you an average. The answer to how long a round of golf take is, on average, 4 hours and 30 minutes for an average player.

However, the length of time it takes to play 18 holes of golf varies depending on several factors, including:

  • How many golfers are in your group
  • What you use to get around the golf course
  • The length and type of holes
  • The skill level of the golfers
  • How fast is your group’s tempo

How Long Should Each Hole Take?

The USGA recommends that you take around 13 minutes for a par 3, 15 minutes for a par 4, and 17 minutes for a par 5.

The average golf course has four par 3’s, four par 5’s, and twelve par 4’s, which usually averages out to 15 minutes per hole. If you add up all those times, it equals 270 minutes—or four and a half hours.

Time Factors Outside The Golfer’s Control

Why are some rounds shorter or longer?

People will debate things like ability level, how long it takes to take a single shot, and course difficulty. These are all factors to consider, but they aren’t nearly as important as the number of people on a course.

The leader is always the group ahead and behind you, regardless of who your playing partner is or where you’re playing. Playing for four and a half hours on an empty golf course is excruciatingly slow.

If you golf alone or with a group in front of you, there’s no reason why you can’t finish a round in below four hours. However, if groups are behind and in front of you, five-hour rounds become the norm.

Is the time of day a factor?

A golfer playing at night.

When you tee off, it’s crucial because it affects the pace of play. If you’re the first player on the course, you set the tone. If you can get things moving at a three-and-a-half-hour pace, they’ll keep things going throughout the day.

If you tee off between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., particularly on weekends when the courses are busiest, your pace will have slowed considerably since morning. A mid-afternoon tee time is accompanied by the expectation of a substantially longer round.

How much time do golf courses leave between tee times?

Many golf courses have tee time intervals between eight and twelve minutes. The pace of play is often quicker when you tee off at twelve-minute intervals rather than at eight-minute intervals, even though it may not seem like it would be.

When you tee off behind a foursome, you’re stuck waiting for shots. Quick tee times also cause bottlenecks, often on a short stretch of just a few difficult holes.

When tee times are more spread out, you have more leeway for mistakes, such as bad shots or lost balls. In addition, those in front of and behind you won’t rush or pressure you as much because fewer golfers are playing.

When tee time intervals are bunched up closer together, more golfers book times on the course, which then leads to increased revenue for the management–even though play will be slower.

If you’re playing alone, how long will 18 holes take?

A golfer playing alone.

When you’re unaccompanied, four hours is too slow. If you have company, such as in a golf cart, three and a half hours is the limit. Three hours should be great.

When golfing by yourself, you have more opportunities to focus on hitting new shots and improving your skills. The pace of play is also less important when there’s no one waiting behind you. But if you’re playing in front of a group and it’s taking just as long as it would with a full foursome, people are going to get impatient.

How long does playing 18 holes last when in a group?

A group of golfers.

When you’re playing golf with a group of four, the average time it takes to play is not multiplied by the amount of time it would take to play alone. As someone plays their shot, you can measure distance, select a club, and be ready to hit your ball long before theirs lands.

Doing this will save you about 20 seconds per shot, and an extra few minutes on each hole. In addition, when you’re on the greens, you can get a better understanding of your putt from someone else’s perspective. Having a better grasp of what your ball will do leads to fewer putts and less time spent on the green overall.

There’s another advantage to playing with a foursome on the golf course: four people looking for your errant drives.

Time Factors The Golfer Can Control

Picking the best tee times

The right set of tees can save you time and improve your golf game.

To help you choose a set of tees, multiply your 5-iron distance by 36. The set of tees you are most likely to succeed with will play around 6300 yards if you hit your 5-iron 175 yards.

Don’t let this formula deceive you into thinking that skill and distance have a direct correlation. Even if somebody hits the ball 300 yards, they could still be considered a 25-handicap golfer.

If that’s the case, simply move up to a higher set of tee boxes rather than listen to anyone telling you to move back. It might also be beneficial to leave the driver in its bag too; choose a more accurate club instead and watch your scores improve as result.

Enforcing a lost ball protocol

A golfer trying to get his ball back.

Balls go missing. Even professionals land a ball in a backyard or grassy area from time to time. If you’re a weekend golfer, it probably happens a few times throughout the round. And when this happens, play comes to a halt.

Knowing the regulations for when this occurs enables you to keep up with the group in front of you and avoid slowing down your whole party or the course.

The rules are simpler if the area is staked off. If it’s out of bounds or you can’t find the ball, though, then things become more complicated.

Once you reach the area where your ball should be, you will have three minutes to look for it. If it is not found within that time frame, then it is considered lost.

If you don’t hit a provisional ball, there’s another alternative that many golfers aren’t aware of. One of the most recent rules to be implemented is an option for stroke and distance when a ball is lost.

  1. Determine roughly where the ball was lost.
  2. From this location, look for a direct line to the hole.
  3. Take a stroll down the fairway to the point where you can no longer walk towards the hole and see if there is a line that leads straight to the hole.
  4. You can hit the ball from knee height between these two points or just within two club lengths closer to the fairway, and continue playing.

The penalty is a two-stroke penalty. If you lose your drive, for example, the next shot you hit will be your fourth.

Other Considerations For The Time It Takes to Play 18 Holes

You get faster as you get better

When you take fewer shots, each round takes less time. If you used to take 110 strokes and now only need 90, the time it takes to play a round will almost certainly not increase.

You’ll have faster rounds as long as you stick with one or two practice swings and don’t overthink your approach for more than a few seconds at a time.

If you’re the group slowing down the course

Being a good player is also about ensuring that everything keeps moving for everyone else. If one group plays at a five-hour clip, the rest of the course will be delayed significantly. However, if the insanely sluggish group is thinking of others, it may continue at its own pace without ruining everyone else’s day on the course.

If you’re the group slowing down the course, consider letting the group behind you pass. They will surely appreciate it.

How long does playing 9 holes take?

Playing 9 holes of golf generally takes 2 hours and 15 minutes, roughly half the time it takes you to play 18 holes. So, if you’re looking for a shorter game, maybe plan for 9 holes instead of 18.

Summarizing How Long Does 18 Holes of Golf Take

To reiterate, it takes around 3-5 hours to play 18 holes. However, the timing will be determined by a variety of factors.

For example, if you’re playing golf with slow or inexperienced players, a round could take closer to six hours. However, if you’re a skilled golfer playing by yourself on a short and flat course, a round could be completed in two hours or less.

Six hours is the ideal time to set aside for an 18-hole round of golf, from start to finish. This gives you plenty of time to get ready at the clubhouse, account for any hiccups that might happen during your game, and still have some fun after all is said and done.