How Long Does Golf Take? A Round-by-Round Guide

by | Last updated May 24, 2024

How Long Does Golf Take

How long does it take to play a round of golf?

It’s a common question, but there’s no easy answer. The time it takes to finish 18 holes depends on several things.

like the number of players, everyone’s skill level, and even whether you walk or ride in a golf cart. Most golfers take around four hours to play a round.

This guide will empower you with the knowledge to control your game duration. It will break down each part and offer tips on playing faster so you can get the most out of your time on the course.


How Long Does Golf Take?

  • The average round of golf takes about 4 hours for a group of 4 players.
  • Par-3 holes take the shortest time (15-20 minutes), par-4 holes take the longest (17-22 minutes), and par-5 holes fall in between (18-23 minutes).
  • Factors like walking vs. riding, skill level, course difficulty, and course busyness can all affect round time.
  • To play faster: be prepared to hit your shot, limit practice swings, don’t dwell on lost balls, and keep up with the group ahead of you.
  • Enjoy the game! Golf is meant to be fun, not a race.

Understanding the Basics

Friends are to the golf course
  • Par: Eachhole on a typical 18-hole course has a par, which is the number of strokes a skilled golfer should take to get the ball in the hole. Most courses are par 72, meaning it should take about 72 strokes in total to finish the course.
  • Course Difficulty: A hilly course with water hazards and sand traps (bunkers) will take longer to play than a flat, open course. Your skill level also matters. Having an off day and losing balls or needing extra strokes will add to your round time.
  • Group Size: The more people you play with, the longer it takes. Think of it like waiting in line at the amusement park – more people means a longer wait! A round with four golfers will naturally take longer than a round with just two.

Tip for Faster Play: Play ready golf! Instead of waiting for everyone to reach the tee box before you prepare, be ready to hit your shot when it’s your turn. Small changes like this can shave off minutes from each hole, leading to a faster overall round.

Factors That Influence Round Length

So, how much time should you set aside for your next golf adventure?

Well, it varies. The average round on a typical golf course takes around 4 hours for a group of 4 golfers. But lots of things can make a round longer or shorter.

golf club putting the ball
  • Walking vs. Riding: If you walk the course instead of using a golf cart, you’re likely to spend an extra hour to an hour and a half out there. It’s good exercise, but it does add time!
  • Skill Level: PGA Tour pros can blaze through a course in under 4 hours, but the average golfer needs more time. Beginners or those who don’t play often may take longer than average.
  • Crowded Course: If the course is crowded, you’ll probably spend some time waiting around on each hole. This is especially common on weekends or holidays or if the tee times are too close together.
  • Lost Balls: Hey, it happens to everyone! But searching for lost balls can definitely add time to your round. The United States Golf Association recommends spending no more than 5 minutes looking before moving on.
  • Playing Ready Golf: As we mentioned earlier, being prepared to hit your shot when it’s your turn can shave off minutes from each hole.

These are just a few things to consider when planning your tee time.

If you’re playing a difficult course with a big group, you should allow for extra time.

But if you’re playing a short, easy course with just a few friends and you play ready golf, you might finish in under 4 hours.

How Long Does Each Hole Take?

Now that we’ve got the basics down, let’s dive into the round itself.

Here’s a general idea of how long each part of a round of golf usually takes:

A man has taken a shot on golf ball
  • Par-3 Holes: These are the shortest holes on the course, so they should be the quickest to play. Most groups take about 15-20 minutes to play a par 3.
  • Par-4 Holes: These are longer and usually take the longest time. Expect to spend 17-22 minutes on each par 4.
  • Par-5 Holes: These are the longest holes, but since you’re allowed more strokes, they don’t always take the longest. Most groups take about 18-23 minutes per par 5.

Of course, these are just averages. Other things can affect how long each hole takes:

  • Practice Swings: Taking too many practice swings can slow down the game for everyone. Try to limit yourself to one or two.
  • Searching for Lost Balls: As we mentioned, searching for lost balls can take time. Don’t spend more than five minutes searching.
  • Walking Pace: If you’re walking, try to keep up with your playing partners.
  • Golf Carts: While carts can speed things up, they can also cause delays if not used properly. Stick to the cart path and park in designated areas.

Tip for Faster Play: Many golf courses have “tee time intervals” of seven or eight minutes. This means a new group starts every seven or eight minutes. If you’re taking longer than the tee time interval, you need to catch up. Try to keep pace with the groups ahead of you, and remember about ready golf! By being prepared and playing at a good pace, you can finish 18 holes in a reasonable amount of time and avoid holding up other golfers.

Tips to Speed Up Your Game

No one wants to be the slowest group on the course, so here are a few tips to help you play faster:

a man has taken a shot on golf course
  • Be Prepared: When it’s your turn to hit, be ready to go. Don’t wait until you get to the tee box to start thinking about your shot. Have your golf ball and club ready, and know where you’re aiming.
  • Limit Practice Swings: A couple of practice swings are fine, but don’t overdo it. Too many practice swings can slow down the entire group.
  • Lost Balls: If you hit a ball into the woods or water, don’t spend forever searching for it. Give yourself a time limit, and if you can’t find it, move on. Remember, it’s just a golf ball!
  • Be Aware of Others: Pay attention to the groups ahead of you. If there’s a gap between you and the group in front, try to close it. But be careful not to hit into the group ahead – that’s a big no-no!
  • Help Each Other: If one of your playing partners is taking a long time, offer to help them find their ball or figure out their next shot.
  • Stay Focused: Avoid distractions like your phone, and focus on playing your best. The faster you play, the faster everyone can get back to the clubhouse for snacks!

Even experienced golfers can benefit from these tips. The faster you play, the more enjoyable the game will be for everyone.


a golf ball on the field

So, there you have it! The time it takes to play golf depends on many different factors.

It’s not just about hitting the ball; it’s about the course, your skill level, the number of people you’re playing with, and even if you walk or ride.

Remember, the goal is only sometimes to finish as quickly as possible.

Golf is meant to be fun! But by understanding what affects the pace of play and following the tips we’ve discussed, you can enjoy your round without feeling rushed or holding up other golfers.

Now grab your clubs and some golf balls, and head out to the course!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it typically take to play 18 holes of golf?

The average time for 18 holes is around 4 hours for a group of 4 golfers. However, this can change depending on the course difficulty, walking vs. riding, and how busy the course is.

How long does it take to play one hole of golf?

On average, each hole takes about 15-23 minutes, depending on whether it’s a par 3, par 4, or par 5.

What can I do to play faster?

Be ready to hit when it’s your turn, limit practice swings, spend less time looking for lost balls, and keep up with the group in front of you.

What should I do if there’s a slow group in front of me?

Be patient and wait for a chance to pass them safely. If they’re consistently holding you up, you can ask the pro shop staff for assistance.

Does the type of golf equipment I use affect playing time?

While clubs or golf balls will stay the same pace, having the right equipment for your skill level can help you play more efficiently.

Fahim Joharder

Fahim Joharder


An avid golfer and author, merges his passion for the sport with insightful writing, offering readers a unique perspective on golf.

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