How Long Does 18 Holes of Golf Take?

Planning a round of golf can be a very fun and unique experience, providing you have enough time to actually squeeze around in.

The problem is for many people who have never played before, or who haven’t played a full-size 18 hole course before it can be difficult to plan due to the lack of knowledge of how long it can take to complete a round.

This is a shame as golf is a lot of fun, but many people struggle to fit it into their busy lives or are uncertain if they have the time to try it.

In this guide, we’re going to look at how long it takes to play a full round of golf, as well as some factors that affect the rate of play as well as some tips about how to speed up.

But first, let’s take a look at how long it actually takes to complete 18 holes.

How Long?

A standard-sized hole at most golf courses should take a group of professional or low handicap players around  10 minutes to complete in favorable conditions. This means an average group of players will complete a hole in around 15 minutes, and beginners could take up to 20 minutes in some cases.

For professionals, this means a whole round will take somewhere around 3 hours, while for average players it could be up to 4 and a half hours, while for beginners it could take 5 hours or more depending on how much they struggle.

This is an incredible investment of time and is one of the key reasons why many people don’t try golf out.

However watching a movie can sometimes take 3 hours or more, so golf is actually comparable to other time-consuming activities.

There are a lot of variables that can affect your speed, which makes an accurate prediction somewhat difficult, however, these times will give you some idea of how much time to set aside if you’re heading out to the links.

Factors That Can Affect Your Speed

In this section, we’re going to look at some of the other factors that affect your speed on the course.

Group Size

Group size can play a huge part in how long it takes you to complete an 18 hole round, as of course more players means more waiting around, and more shots per hole which can multiply your time spent on the course significantly.

Smaller groups will play through much faster, however, a larger group of good players can sometimes catch up with a smaller group of worse players, and this is where etiquette dictates that the slower group allows the faster group to play through to avoid holding them up and slowing everyone down.

Riding vs. Walking

Another key factor when golfing is how you get around the course. 

Walking from hole to hole is much slower than using a golf cart, so naturally, this will slow you down or speed you up depending on whether you use one or not.

Golf carts also help you preserve energy and can protect you from the rain or the heat of the sun, so they make a great addition to your round if you’re in a rush.

Course Type

Course type can make a huge difference in your play speed, and not all courses were made equal.

Some courses are far more challenging than others, and these will naturally slow down weaker players far more than simpler courses.

Obstacles like bunkers, longer holes, and difficult features are hallmarks of more challenging courses, and beginners will find negotiating through these courses difficult and time-consuming, so study your course carefully and don’t be afraid to call and ask for advice if you’re not sure about a courses difficulty level, as well as its length.

Traffic

As we mentioned earlier, slower golfers and groups can slow down faster golfers, and if you’re in a faster group, being held up in traffic behind a slower group can really slow you down.

If a slow group doesn’t allow a faster group to play through this can quickly result in a much longer time at the course than planned, and can be extremely frustrating.

Player Skill

As already mentioned, player skill plays a huge part in the rate of play. The ability to finish a hole and course in fewer strokes with less difficulty will naturally be much quicker and is the reason that the difficulty of the course, traffic, and conditions play a huge part in how long it takes to finish a course.

Ball Loss

Losing a ball can happen to anyone, and if it happens enough times this can add a surprising amount of time to your round. Most players will give up looking and not waste too much time, but there are always some who spend a bit too long agonizing over a lost Titleist and hold everyone up!

Weather Conditions

Conditions can always slow things down. It makes golf carts slower, it makes walking slower, and it makes golf a pretty miserable experience a lot of the time.

Most people will avoid playing in bad weather due to this, however, some get caught out in the rain which can result in a much longer time playing than in normal conditions where the whole game becomes much more difficult due to poor visibility, slippery surfaces, and overall low morale.

How to Speed up

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to speed up your play and compensate for the above issues!

Use A Golf Cart – They can take a lot of strain out of your day and are very handy for getting around the course.

Use Gimmies – If an easy putt is on, allow a gimmie to move play on, and save a minute or two per hole as this can quickly add up at the end of play, saving 10 to 15 minutes per round in some cases.

Using the Correct Tee – Playing from the correct marker for your handicap will make things much easier for beginners and is essential to keeping your rate of play high enough to not be a nuisance to other players. Respect the ratings!

Play Ready Golf – Playing ready golf instead of the traditional style where the furthest player back is next is a great way to save time if you’re in a rush. This simple system allows players to play simultaneously wherever possible and whenever ready to save considerable time per hole.

Quicker Breaks – Shorten your breaks as much as you can to save a few extra minutes