How Long Does 18 Holes Of Golf Take For 1 To 4 Players?

Everyone has their own take on how long 18 holes of golf take. But from what I’ve seen, for the most part, the claimed times and what actually happens aren’t very consistent. Why is that?

I’m sure you’ve heard the typical rules of thumb of how long it takes…

2 hours by yourself, 4 and a half hours for a group of 4, and add an hour if you’re walking. Sure, these can be great for quick answers for when you’re trying to get out of the house, but these times can’t be relied on. Especially if your wife is making plans for you afterward… Trust me, you don’t want to mess this up!

What if you’re playing with a bunch of hackers, like myself, who consistently hit the golf ball from right rough to left rough?

What if it’s a weekend and the course is packed at every tee time available?

Let’s not fail to mention the 19th hole afterward. After 18 holes in the Texas summer heat, a little reward is always needed! All these things can quickly add up and significantly impact how long 18 holes of golf actually take.

In this article, I will outline how long 18 golf holes will take. First, with a little math on what a theoretically perfect timed round will look like. And then, I’ll discuss what will slow you down and ways you can speed up.


How Long Does 18 Holes Of Golf Take?

Typically 18 holes of golf will take you 3 to 5 hours. How long it takes is impacted by the player’s skills, the golf course difficulty, how many golfers are on the golf that day, and the distance between each hole.

The Math

Let’s take an average 18-hole course length of 6,500 yards and a golf cart speed of 12 miles per hour. The time it will take you to maneuver that cart around the course non-stop will be 20 minutes.

Now let’s add your play.

Say you will hit 90 stokes… we all can’t be Tiger Woods now! And it takes you an average of 20 seconds to select your club, get over your ball, hit, and make your way to your next shot. Your play now adds up to 30 minutes.

Combine the two, and you get 50 minutes. Not bad for some speed golf, right?

Don’t forget to add an additional 30 minutes for each player you plan on playing with.

But can this really be relied on? Yes, if…

You’re on an empty course, the group you play with are consistent golfers, and don’t lose too many balls. Sound realistic?

I haven’t participated in one of those magical rounds, but I know they’re out there. I’ve heard the stories.

Now that you know what a theoretically perfect timed round looks like, let’s look at what will slow you down.

What Slows Down 18 Holes Of Golf

The Skills Of The Players In The Group And On The Course

The skill levels of you and your group are one of the most important elements that impact the pace of play. The fewer strokes you take, the less time you’ll spend preparing for the next stroke. It’s the goal of the game… pretty simple.

I’m not saying only play with better-skilled players. If you’re on a new course or your buddies haven’t played in a while, the time it takes to complete 18 will increase.

The same goes for all of the groups golfing in front of you. It’s out of your control in this situation and can be annoying.

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The Course Difficulty

The number of strokes you take on a difficult course will add up. There is no way around it once you start.

This also includes if the course is new to you or if you haven’t played in a while and you must dust off the cobwebs on the clubs.

The best way to speed up the game on a difficult course is to play it more often.

Space Between Holes

The longer the course, the more time you spend walking or driving around. This will also have a major time impact if you smack the ball everywhere but straight, just like myself!

Take a look at the total yardage of the course to give yourself a heads-up before you tee off.

How Many People Are On The Course

It’s the weekend. A beautiful morning without a cloud in sight. No one will be on the course… Think again!

The weekends and the mornings are the most popular times to golf. Always expect a fully loaded course in these conditions.

If you’re concerned about time, think about getting an afternoon or weekday tee time.

The 19th Hole

Now this is a slowdown that I enjoy and always make plans for!

What’s better than a frosty beverage after a round in the Texas summer heat?

Getting drinks at the bar or enjoying lunch after 18 holes is typical for most groups. If you’re short on time, just simply pass on it. I will always give myself some time on the 19th if my group is up for it.

Ways To Speed Up 18 Holes Of Golf

Agree On Gimmes

The dreaded putting… The number one reason why most amateurs’ scorecards are so high! So how do you cut back on putting? You add a gimme.

A gimme is a rule agreed on before the start of a round that states if your golf ball is within a certain distance from the cup, the golfer doesn’t have to putt the ball in, and the stroke is automatically added to your score.

What distance, you ask? A good rule of thumb is 3ft from the cup, but it can be adjusted to fit your desired speed of play.

Play Ready Golf

I do like proper golf etiquette and letting the furthest player back hit first, but in some cases where time is not on your side or your group is being pushed by the group behind you, ready golf is necessary.

Ready golf is a term used to increase the pace of play. Simply put, once you find your ball and you have a clear shot, you don’t have to wait your turn to hit. This strategy greatly decreases your round’s time if needed.

Get A Practice Session In On Your Local Range A Day Or Two Before Your Round

If you haven’t played in a while and you don’t want to spend the whole day on the golf course round coming up, why not spend a little time beforehand to figure out your swing and play some range games?

The best thing to do here is not to work on hitting the perfect shots but to understand what feels comfortable and how your golf balls come off your clubs. Once you understand your typical shots, you can create a game plan for the course!

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Make A Quicker Turn

The turn after 9 holes is a great pit stop to pick up a snack, drink, or cool down for a minute. But in times when the clock isn’t on your side, or the course is packed, taking a break is not the best option.

Plan ahead and get a snack or drink from the cart girl while you’re still on the course. Then after hole 9, don’t make a stop and go directly to 10.

Play The Proper Tees To Your Skill Set

We all like to think we can hit the massive drives and be the big shot playing from the tips, but let’s be honest with ourselves. If you play consistently and have a massive drive, do it. But if you’re anything like me and can’t hit a consistent tee shot to save your life, have a little humility and play a few tee boxes up.

It will drastically reduce the time it takes to golf 18 holes. Hey, it might be even more enjoyable too.

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