August 7

Why You’re Failing at How Long Should 18 Holes


Is it your first round of an 18 holes course? Are you clueless about how much time the round would take? Is there any specific time period in which the game should be completed? If these are the questions you are looking for answers then, let me tell you there absolutely no fixed time on how long does 18 holes of golf takes to play.

Unlike games like footballbasketball or even athletic events no time-limit has been set. This is a game which can take as long as the players take to finish. There are several other factors too that come into consideration like the number of players in the group, the level of difficulty on each course, the pace at which each player is playing, traffic of players on the course, weather conditions and more. Average time calculated for a foursome of players who have been playing for a while is about four hours.

About The Golf Course

It is always good to know all details about golf courses before we talk about factors affecting the time taken to play an 18 hole round of golf. A standard round of golf involves playing all of 18 holes and a proper full-size golf course should have an 18 hole course.

The entire course is made of various essential elements such as the tee off grounds, Fairways, the putting greens, water hazards, bunkers, roughs and certain other areas within the enclosure of the golf course.

The length of golf courses can vary from 5000 to 7000 yards and the number of pars or strokes taken to complete a game on a full course can be anything from 69 to 74. The most common full- par courses are par-72.

While playing on an 18 holes golf players, the players have to play each hole in sequence the way they are numbered.

Factors Determining How Long It Takes To Play 18 Holes Of Golf

The exact time taken to complete the entire game depends on various factors. Among which few of the prominent ones being-

The Size Of The Group

If one is playing alone the time taken is the least but as the number of players increases as in a two ball, a three ball or a four-ball, the time taken to finish the game increases proportionately. If only two golfers are playing they may end up finishing the entire game in as less as two hours. The waiting time is taken for each player to finish his turn at each hole increases when there are more number of players.

Average Time Took To Each Hole

If one gets down to the basics of calculating how much time it takes to play a normal golf hole, it takes an average of 10 minutes for a professional group and amateurs may take about 15 minutes to finish. So taking these statistics into consideration we can calculate that an 18 holes course would take an average of three and a half to four hours to play.

Mode Of Playing

Walking across the golf course takes longer than riding across to the various holes. An average riding round of golf can take three and a half to four hours and a leisure walking round can take up to five hours or more.

Time Is Taken To Search For Balls

Searching for lost balls takes up a lot of time especially for a group that is walking the entire course. Riding on a golf cart and looking for the ball can speed up the searching process. Also, if there are accompanying caddies, looking for the ball is easier and faster too

Traffic On The Golf Course

A busy golf course is no less difficult to cross than a busy road. The more the number of players on the course, the more is the waiting time at each hole. On an average, the waiting time taken on every tee off on a busy course could be around 5 minutes just to start play. Considering these additional 5 minutes and adding it to the average 10 to 15 minutes taken to play a normal hole it will take about four and a half to six long hours. This also slows down the pace of even professional golfers too.

Difficulty level of the course

If the course you are playing on is a full par-72 course, the time taken will be more as the course may be wide open with lots of rough and more number of hazards. Average time taken to play on such a course is about four hours. A par 3 course with not very high difficulty levels is easier to play and doesn’t take much time. A full round can be completed within 2 hours.

Skill Levels Of The Golfers

Players with a lower handicap will definitely finish the round much more quickly as compared to players with higher handicaps as the number of strokes they take to reach the ball will be more accurate and fewer. Seasoned players can be expected to finish 18 holes, four balls in as quickly as three hours.


Weather is another important parameter that decides how much time an 18 hole round of golf can take.

  • Windy conditions - especially can play havoc on the game as it has a direct effect on the ball’s flight. Hitting a ball into a tailwind will make it travel further than you would want it to go and hitting into stiff wind makes it slower. Cross winds also tend to push balls away from their projected paths and direct them to towards bunkers or water hazards thereby further delaying play.
  • Rain - Golfers generally avoid playing in rainy conditions as it affects their grip. If the rain is too heavy players’ generally wait for it to stop and then continue after it slows down. Visibility, concentration and a feeling of discomfort are other factors that influence play during rains.
  • Cold conditions - When the weather is too cold the golf ball doesn’t travel too far firstly cause of high humidity levels and second grips are not so good and there is not too much power in each shot due to low-temperature levels. Walking is also much slower in cold weather conditions.

A regular 18 hole course may take an additional hour or so more to complete in adverse weather conditions.

Effective Tips To Speed Up Play On The Golf Course

Now that we know about the different factors that may affect play, here are a few tipsto faster play on a normal course under standard conditions-

1. Reach The Course On Time

Be punctual and reach for tee off at the decided time. Being late spoils the moods of other players as nobody likes to wait. Get all your gear and equipment organized. Keep aside some time for warming up before tee off. Warming up allows the body to loosen up and allows you to play a smooth game.

2. Mark Your Golf Balls

Marking balls save time and don't create confusion among players in identifying their balls.

3. Don’t Stop, Keep Moving

Once a player finishes his tee off, he should start moving towards the ball and get ready for his next shot.

4. Be Prepared For Your Shots

Do not take too much time before every shot of playing. A maximum of 45 seconds may be taken, otherwise, the duration of play will keep increasing accordingly.

5. Limit Number Of Swings

Trying out too many swings with different clubs also takes up a lot of time. This should also be avoided. 2 swings are before you hit a ball towards the hole.

6. Read Your Putt

To save time, when your partners are still playing you can finishing reading your putt and hole out first.

7. Retrieving Lost Balls

Do not spend more than 3 minutes in searching for lost balls. in case it takes more time than that it is advisable to declare it lost and take appropriate actions instead.

8. Consider Driving As A Faster Option

Taking a golf cart and driving it to a location as close as possible to wherever your ball or your partner's ball has landed after playing shots, saves time too. Alternatively, you can drop your partner and then drive to where your ball.

9. Carry Enough Clubs

To further save on time carry more number of clubs than required, in case you decide to change your strategy.

10. Limit Talking On The Green

There a tendency among players to converse and discuss shots on the green. This should be avoided and the players should allow each other to play with full concentration. keep stories, jokes, and anecdotes you want to share with your golf buddies for later after the game is over there will be plenty of time for conversation and laughs.

11. Filling Scorecards

Scorecards should be filled while walking towards the next. Avoid filling scorecards on the green as you may be blocking someone’s game and causing inconvenience to other golfers.

12. Observe Your Partner's Game

If you keenly observe your partners games as well, identifying the location where a ball has been shot errantly is easier and quicker. Players must help each other to look for their balls, but in case the search takes longer than required, golf etiquettes suggests that the player asks his partners to move on and he can continue to look for his ball.

13. Keep A Check On The Time

Noting the time after tee off and then subsequently after every 3or 4 holes help the entire group to pace themselves accordingly. It is always advisable to finish a game before time rather than later.

14. Refreshments On The Green?

If you need a drink and you see the refreshment cart approaching make sure to call it to where your ball is located. Finish playing your shot and then refresh yourself. Do not engage the cart for long. Others need refreshments too!

15. Do Away With Or Reduce Using Cell Phones

Talking on cell phones, not only is against golf etiquettes it also is a lot of waste of time. It also distracts the players to a large extent takes a toll on the concentration of the players.

Special Tips For Beginner Golfers

Amateur golfers more often than not do take more time than professionals to finish their game. As they are players who are still mastering the game every stroke has to be a deliberate one taken after a lot of thought, planning, and foresight. Here are some quick tips for you to follow for improving your pace of play-

  • Be attentive and stay smart. pay attention to all the instructions given and which need to be strictly followed.
  • Don’t spend too much time teeing off.
  • Meticulously plan each shot that you plan to play before you reach your ball
  • Aim to play quick shots whenever your turn to play comes
  • Develop an estimate of distance
  • Be considerate about partners in your group and to other groups on the course. Try not to obstruct anyone’s game and waste valuable time.
  • Share a golf cart with your partners to save time or brisk walking is better. Walking fast is good for health and it improves your pace too.
  • Be helpful, polite and cordial with your partners. Avoid getting into arguments during play.

Whether you are an amateur golfer or a veteran one, everyone has wanted to know how long or what is the duration of play for playing a complete round of golf on an 18 holes course. Keeping all the above factors and tips in mind that an average round of golf on an 18 holes course should not take more than 4 hours in the best of conditions.

Under adverse conditions, the time taken varies and one needs to keep a check on the conditions and the time factor to improve the pace and speed up play. In the worst of conditions, a full round should not take more than 6 hours. In case it takes more than that the players should take a call on the next course of action.

Hope you found this article useful as I have tried to cover all the aspects that may have an effect on a round of golf. If you liked it and wish to share with other beginners or seasoned golfers please do go ahead. You could also leave your comments in the comments section and let us know your views and opinions too.

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