How Long Does it Take to Play 9 Holes of Golf?
If you’re new to golf you might have wondered, “How long does it take to play 9 holes of golf?”
It’s a good question because as you’ll learn, golf is a lot of things but not something most would consider a fast-paced activity. Playing golf can take a long time but it’s worth it in our opinion because there’s nothing more addicting than hitting quality golf shots.
Today, we’ll cover how long it takes to play golf and provide strategies to play faster (and better) every time you tee it up.
How Long Does it Take to Play 9 Holes of Golf?
After the 2023 Masters pace of play has been a big issue in the golf world.
The final group waited on almost every shot and took nearly five hours to complete their round. Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm are two of the faster players in professional golf and weren’t thrilled with how long it took either.
As Brooks said in a post round interview, “Yeah, the group in front of us was brutally slow. Jon went to the bathroom like seven times during the round, and we were still waiting.” It might have negatively affected him too as he shot a final round 75 and didn’t give Jon much worry on the back nine.
For amateur golfers, pace of play is an even bigger issue than professionals. By the time you drive to the golf course, warm up, play 9 or 18, and eat a snack after the round it’s a long day.
On average, it takes about two hours to play nine holes of golf. If you’re out as a single or with a buddy, it might only take 90 minutes. But if you’re out with a foursome during peak times it might take even longer than two hours.
When playing 18 holes it usually takes 3.5 – 5 hours depending on several factors including weather, tournament vs. casual round, number of people in a group, etc.
Pace of Play Factors
If you’re new to golf you might wonder why some rounds take so much longer than others? It comes down to a variety of factors including:
Time of Day
One of the biggest factors is time of day and weekday vs. weekend. Weekends tend to have more golfers on the course and thus, a slower pace of play. While afternoons tend to not have as many golfers so you can move around the course faster.
If you want to play fast I’d suggest avoiding weekends and mornings as they’re typically the most busy times. The pace also depends on how the course spaces out tee times (it is usually between 7–10 minutes per group). Sometimes courses get greedy and put tee times too close together which kills the pace of play.
Number of Players & Skill Level
Another big reason that 9 or 18 hole times can vary is the number of players. A round of golf is much faster with 2 or 3 players vs. having a full foursome (some courses even allow fivesomes). But since most golf courses want to make as much money as possible it’s more likely that you’ll play with a full group.
While the number of players is a factor for total time to play golf, so is their skill level. As you know, golf is a challenging sport and has a steep learning curve.
Beginner golfers naturally hit more shots which takes more time. Not to mention they might not understand the rules of golf and other common course etiquette. Which is why playing with a foursome of beginners can easily take more than two hours!
Walking vs. Riding in a Golf Cart
Depending on the layout and weather conditions riding vs. walking the course can impact total time too. Riding in a cart generally saves time, especially when playing longer courses with more hills.
Another factor in determining how long a round of golf takes is the course itself. In general, the longer and harder the golf course, the longer it will take to play 9 or 18 holes.
If you want to play faster try and find easier golf courses that are flatter with fewer hazards. Or, try out an executive golf course which consists of par 3s and par 4s. These courses are much shorter and were originally meant for executives to sneak away from work and play a quick round of golf.
Casual Round vs. Tournament Round
The final factor for how long it takes to play a round of golf is the type of round. A casual round with friends tends to play much faster vs. a competitive round.
Tournament rounds are more serious, with a full field of golfers playing on a tough course. This tends to slow down the pace of play as every shot counts and rules are strictly enforced.
Pace of Play Study
Did you know that slow golf can actually hurt your game?
Before we get into the study I’m sure you’ve felt this before during a slow round as there’s nothing worse than having to wait to hit every single shot. It’s nearly impossible to get into a rhythm and feels like you’re waiting more than you are playing golf. Compared to a round where you’re in a nice rhythm and swinging consistently.
Luckily, Arccos Golf and Golf.com recently conducted a study and found that slow golf does hurt scores. They tracked thousands of rounds on par 72 courses that measured between 6,000 to 6,500 yards. This is pretty average length for amateur golfers.
Here’s what they found,
- “For each hour added to your round, you can expect to add about one stroke to your score.”
- “At a quick glance every level of golfer benefits from a faster pace of play with the lowest scores coming in between 3.0-3.5 hour rounds.”
Unfortunately, 3-3.5 hour rounds (for 18 holes) are nearly impossible to find these days. Keep reading to learn several strategies to speed up pace so you can shoot lower scores.
How to Play Golf Faster
As you can tell, golf takes longer than it should. Sometimes this is from golf courses booking too many players and other times it might be from a frost delay or weather related issue which are out of your control.
But a lot of times slow golf happens from players not staying aware of the pace and playing “ready golf.” Here are a few tips to help you play faster and likely shoot lower scores.
- Use a rangefinder: A rangefinder makes it easier to figure out the distances to the greens and hazards instead of pacing off sprinkler heads.
- Play the right tee boxes. Arguably the biggest factor with slow golf is golfers not playing the right tee boxes. Most golfers play tee boxes that are too far back and make the course too long… which slows down the pace of play. Tee it forward to play faster and have more fun (not to mention, work on your wedges more often).
- Speed up your pre-shot routine. A routine can help your game enormously by providing structure and makes it easier to “get in the zone.” But most amateur golfers stand over the ball too long which not only slows down the pace of play but hinders performance. Studies have shown you should spend 8–9 seconds over the ball to optimize performance and improve your mental game.
- Play ready golf. Unless you’re playing in a competitive event you should play ready golf, not honors golf. If you’re ready, hit the shot even if you didn’t get the lowest score on the hole or are closer to the green than others.
- Prepare while others are hitting. Another reason golf takes too long is that players aren’t prepared to hit their shot when it’s their turn. Don’t wait to analyze your shot until it’s your turn – do it as soon as you get to your golf ball. Then when it’s your turn you can take 1-2 practice swings and go.
How long does it take a single to play 9 holes?
Playing as a single (solo golf) can be very fast if the course is empty. I’ve played nine holes in an hour and 18 holes in two hours more times than I can count as a single. But if you’re a single wedged in between threesomes and foursomes it can be a long day.
How long does it take to play 9 holes with 3 people?
It should take about two hours or slightly less. But it depends on a lot of factors mentioned above including riding vs. walking, golf course difficulty, weather, numbers of players and the overall skill level of the group.
What is an executive style golf course?
Executive golf courses are shorter than normal “championship” courses. Most full sized golf courses are 6,000 to 7,500 yards in length, depending on the tee boxes played. While executive courses are several thousand yards less.
While golf isn’t a fast sport by any means it’s a great way to get outside and enjoy time with friends. But pace of play is a big issue and vital to not be the slow group on the course and ruin the day for everyone else.
Remember, as the Arccos golf study showed, playing faster can actually help you shoot lower scores. Use the tips above to play faster or go at certain times to not spend as much time on the links.
I’ll leave you with a quote I saw at a golf course on the first tee box, “Playing good? Play fast. Playing bad? Play faster.”
How long does it take your group to play 9 or 18 holes?
Let us know in the comments below.