How Long Does 18 Holes of Golf Take?

golf course

Golf is one of the best sports ever as you can play it at any age. But there’s one big problem with the game of golf – it takes a lot of time. 

In some cases, it feels like half your day is committed just to playing golf. While it might work out some days, chances are you have a job, family, and other tasks that need to get done. 

Plus, if you have to drive 20-30+ minutes, want to warm up adequately, and maybe grab a drink, it’s an all day experience. In this post, we’ll break down the average pace of play and give you tips to speed it up while still scoring well. 

How Long Does 18 Holes Take? 

If you’re like a lot of new golfers, you might wonder how long does it take to play 18 holes?

Ultimately, it depends on a number of factors, including:

  • Weather conditions.
  • Number of players in your group.
  • Competitive event vs. casual rounds. 
  • Handicap/skill-level of each player in your group.
  • The golf course itself (including which tee boxes, difficulty of course, length of course, etc.).

In most cases, the average round should clock in around 4 hours and 30 minutes (or faster). 

This is assuming you’re not in a tournament and playing with a foursome. If you can make it through 18 holes in under four hours, you’re flying in most cases. 

Plus, you have to factor in any commute you might have and warm up sessions. A drive can add another 10-30+ minutes each way, and a warm-up can last 15-60 minutes as well. Needless to say, 18 holes of golf can take six plus hours quite easily. 

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How to Play Golf Faster

If you’ve been playing for any length of time, chances are you know the feeling of slow golf. In my opinion, it’s the plague of the game and has bottle necked growth for years. Golfers hate it, golf shops hate it, but sadly, it still happens.

Don’t be the person in the group that is responsible for slow golf!  

The good news is that you can speed up your round with a few strategies. Keep reading to learn simple ways to play golf faster and still score just as well. 

1. Play Ready Golf

Unless you’re in a tournament, do not play the honor system (sorry Golf Gods, I said it).

In case you don’t know, this refers to the player who made the lowest score on the last hole tees off first. While this is appropriate for competitive golf, it slows down casual rounds significantly.

Instead, play ready golf and get up and hit it off the tee box if you’re ready. The same goes for approach shots as well. Even if you’re closer but get to your ball first, play ready golf as long as it doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s game. 

2. Tee It Forward

One of the main culprits behind slow golf is playing tee boxes that are too advanced for your game. 

For example, if you’re a 20 handicap golfer and decide to play the tips to “Get your money’s worth”, the round will likely take a lot longer. It’s also kind of rude to your playing partners if you play a set that is too good for your current game. They’ll likely have to help you look for golf balls and probably throw off their game too.

While I’m all for challenging yourself to get better, do it at the right time or place. If it’s a busy weekend round with a stacked tee sheet, don’t try to play tees that you can’t score your handicap from. Instead, save it for a weekday, late afternoon round that you play solo or with a friend. 

3. Know When to Ride or Walk

In general, using a golf cart is a faster way to get around the golf course. You can drive straight to your ball, go through your pre-shot routine, hit, and repeat until you’re on the green. No walking or having to use a pull cart.

But sometimes walking is actually faster than riding in certain cases. 

For example, if the pro shop tells you that it’s cart path only because the course is wet, walking is usually faster. Otherwise, you have to drive up parallel to your golf ball but stay on the path, grab some clubs, walk to your ball, and then do it again. 

Some rounds, it feels like you’re just chasing your cart more than you are playing golf. Plus, it’s good exercise as well. 

4. Use a Golf Rangefinder or GPS Device

Another reason for slow golf is players searching for distances to the green and other hazards. 

While some courses still have the distances on the sprinkler heads, fewer and fewer are marking them. Most golf courses assume that players have handheld devices and opt not to mark sprinkler heads. Plus, not every golf course has a GPS device in the cart either for the same reason.

This is why it’s vital that you have a rangefinder, golf watch, or handheld golf GPS device. Having one of these will make it easy to get to your golf ball, find your distance, pull a club, and hit the shot.

Also Read: How Does a Rangefinder Work?

5. Develop an Efficient Pre-Shot Routine

Finally, to speed up the pace of play, develop your own pre-shot routine that is efficient. A longer pre-shot routine does not necessarily make it a better one. 

Instead, find the distance, pick your target, grab the right club, make 1-2 swings, and go. Don’t stand over the ball for 30 seconds before each shot trying to think your way to a good shot. Create a pre-shot ritual that helps you see the right shot and keep up with the group ahead of you.

Wrapping Up

As golf continues to grow in popularity since 2020, pace of play is a big issue. 

But if you use these five tips, you can help speed up the average time per round. That means more golfers getting out, less time spent on the course, and hopefully, just as good of scores.

Don’t be the person or the group who makes everyone play slow golf! 

How long is the average round where you’re located? 

Let us know in the comments below! 

Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard is a full-time writer, author, creator of Wicked Smart Golf and +1 handicap amateur golfer. He left his corporate, national sales career in 2017 to pursue entrepreneurship and professional golf; since then, he’s competed in 160+ tournament days and went to Q-school in 2019.

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