How Long Does It Take To Play 18 Holes of Golf?

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How Long Does It Take To Play 18 Holes of Golf

As you prepare for a day on the golf course, make tee times, organize your clubs, and select the perfect outfit. Right?

But the question of how long you’ll spend there looms. How long does it take to play 18 holes?

Although the 18-hole golf round lasts approximately 4h17 minutes, the duration can vary greatly. It depends on the layout, difficulty, pace of play policies, weather conditions, and skill level of players. Many players complete 18 holes in 2 hours, while others spend up to 6 hours.

Depending on how long it takes to play golf, scheduling your day or weekend can be challenging.

However, I am here to help you with questions about How long it takes to play 18 holes. Also, I’ll examine the varied factors affecting your course pace below.

How Long Does a Round of Golf Take?

According to the R&A’s “Pace of Play Manual,” recommended intervals for different-sized groups in golf are as follows:

Two-balls8-minute intervals
Three-balls10-minute intervals
Four-balls11 or 12-minute intervals

Following these intervals, the estimated durations for a golf round are as follows:

  • An 18-hole round for two players: around 2h20 minutes.
  • A full round for three players: approximately 3 hours.
  • For four players: between 3h18 minutes to 3h36 minutes.

These guidelines aim to maintain a consistent pace of play. It ensures an enjoyable and efficient golf experience on the course. Actual round durations may vary depending on the course layout, players’ skill levels, and course management methods.

How Long Does It Take To Play 18 Holes of Golf

Here’s a table outlining the expected times for a round of 18 golf holes based on the number of players and the types of holes (Par 5s, Par 4s, Par 3s):

No. of Players18 HolesPar 5sPar 4sPar 3s
12 hrs 30 mins10 mins8 mins7 mins
23 hrs12 mins10 mins8 mins
33 hrs 30 mins14 mins12 mins9 mins
44 hrs16 mins13 mins10 mins

According to a USGA study, golf rounds typically last 4 hours on weekdays and 4h30 on weekends. Early tee times allow rounds to finish in under four hours. During busy weekends, rounds may extend beyond five hours as more groups join.

This timeframe allows players to navigate the course comfortably while maintaining a steady pace of play. However, various factors can influence the time it takes to complete a round.

Weather conditions, course layout, the number of players on the course, and the pace of play all play significant roles. Slow play, in particular, can significantly prolong a round and reduce enjoyment for all players.

As a general guideline, golfers should aim to complete their round in four hours or less, regardless of the course’s standards. This way, everyone on the course can enjoy the game smoothly and efficiently.

What Can Affect the Length of Your Golf Round: 15 Essential Facts

Here are the factors that affect how long a round of golf lasts:

golfer standing with clubs

Dimensions of the group:

Group size directly influences the time taken to complete a golf round. Typically, larger groups, such as foursomes, take longer than smaller groups because more players are moving around the course and taking shots.

A group of four golfers typically allocate around 4 to 4.5 hours to complete 18 holes, allowing for the necessary time and pace.

In contrast, a group of two golfers can complete 18 holes in around 2.5 hours since there is less ball movement.

However, having groups of three or more golfers play a hole at a time can also speed up their rounds.

What is the pace of play?

The pace of play depends on group size and shot execution efficiency. Two players can play faster than larger groups. However, the game’s pace can vary depending on individual habits, social interactions, or business discussions during the game.

Number of Golfers in the Group:

Solo Player: A skilled solo player can finish 18 holes in about two hours or less, as they don’t have to wait for other players.

Twosome: A twosome may add around 30 additional minutes to the solo player’s time.

Threesome: Threesomes can take 3+ hours to complete 18 holes.

Foursome: Foursomes typically take 4+ hours, and some groups may take longer, potentially causing delays for groups behind them.

Larger Groups: Many golf courses discourage groups of five or more players due to the increased likelihood of slow play.

Tee Box Waiting Time:

On busy courses, waiting time at the tee box is inevitable. Each delay, often lasting five minutes or more per hole, contributes to the total round time.

Tee time intervals and congestion on the course are essential factors in predicting and managing waiting times.

Time of Day:

Peak times, typically from early morning until mid-afternoon, witness the highest course traffic.

Playing during these hours often results in longer rounds due to increased player density and waiting times.

Opting for later tee times when the course is less crowded can expedite the round. As a result, the game plays faster.

Walking or riding a golf cart:

Choosing between walking and using a golf cart can significantly impact the pace of play. While walking the course is gaining popularity, it generally slows down play compared to using a golf cart.

Following cart path rules and navigating carts efficiently can mitigate delays, making cart usage more time-efficient.

Golf Course Length and Type:

  • Longer Courses: Courses exceeding 7000+ yards generally take longer to play, often taking at least four hours. PGA Tour venues are examples of more prolonged courses.
  • Shorter Courses: Courses under 6000 yards may take less time to complete.

Catching up with Other Groups:

When faster groups encounter slower groups on the course, delays can occur. This common courtesy helps maintain an efficient play flow and prevents congestion. All players benefit from a smoother and faster round.

Player Skill Level:

Player experience and skill level also influence the pace of play. Beginner golfers often take more time to assess shots, select clubs, and execute strokes than experienced players.

Their learning curve may contribute to slower rounds, particularly as they familiarize themselves with the game and course management.

Playing Speed of Golfers:

Slow Play: Amateurs imitating professional players with multiple practice swings, prolonged shot preparation, and other time-consuming habits contribute to slow play.

Fast Play: Players who maintain briskly, take shots promptly, and minimize unnecessary delays contribute to shorter rounds.

Course Bookings:

Course bookings and scheduling can impact round duration, especially when courses are overbooked or have designated times for novice players.

Congestion from high demand or specific player demographics may extend waiting times and overall round duration.

Course Difficulty / Setup:

The course layout and maintenance level significantly affect playing time. Courses with numerous obstacles, water hazards, sand bunkers, and narrow fairways lengthen play.

Complex setups challenge golfers, resulting in higher scores and more time spent on the course.

For amateurs, fast greens may require extra putting time. As you negotiate obstacles and adapt to course details, you spend more time on the course.

Course layout:

Many factors contribute to round duration, such as tee box proximity, travel time between holes, and potential obstacles like housing estates.

There may be hard-to-reach tee boxes or longer distances between holes, affecting the pace of play.

Course Management:

The right tee time intervals, rough heights, and pin placements are crucial to maintaining golf’s steady flow. Using efficient course management techniques facilitates smoother rounds and enriches the golfing experience.

Weather Conditions:

Temperature: A cooler temperature may affect ball flight and require additional layers of clothing. It may restrict swings and impact play. A warm, dry environment is optimal for maximum distance.

Rain: Wet conditions negatively affect ball roll and may plug balls upon landing. Dealing with umbrellas, wet towels, and rain gear adds time to the round.

Wind: High winds affect ball flight and course conditions. Dry, windy conditions make fairways and greens harder to hit. Consequently, balls may run off fairways, or greens may need to be more receptive to shots than they are.

Average Time to Play 18 Holes of Golf

Playing 18 holes of golf typically takes varying amounts of time, depending on several factors. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

playing golf
  1. Solo Golfer

If you’re playing alone and the course isn’t crowded, you can complete 18 holes in approximately 3 to 3.5 hours. Solo players often move quickly between shots, minimizing downtime.

  1. Twosome

A round for a twosome usually takes about 3.5 to 4 hours. With fewer players, there’s less waiting time between shots, allowing for a slightly more relaxed pace than playing solo.

  1. Foursome

For a typical foursome round, expect it to last around 4 to 4.5 hours. This duration accommodates the additional time needed for socializing, club selection discussions, and occasional delays.

  1. Crowded Course

Rounds may extend to 5 hours or more on busy days or popular courses. Increased player traffic leads to slower play as groups wait longer on each hole and encounter delays at tee boxes and greens.

How Long Should It Take to Play Each Hole?

On a typical golf course, there are three different types of hole:

  • par-3s
  • par-4s
  • par-5s

But how long should it take for you to play each golf hole?

If you want your group (four players) to complete the round in four hours, try to follow these times:

  • Par-3 Hole: 10 minutes (4 par-3s = 40 minutes)
  • Par-4 Hole: 13 minutes (10 par-4s = 2 hours and 10 minutes)
  • Par-5 Hole: 16 minutes (4 par-5s = 1 hour and 4 minutes)

Total Time on Course Goal = 4 hours

  • 3 hours and 54 minutes of playing time
  • 6 minutes travel time between holes

Why Is Round Length Important in Golf?

In golf, the round length is crucial for player courtesy and enjoyment. Professionally, it ensures prompt play and adherence to regulations. In research studies, average rounds last over four hours, but slow play can put new players off, especially on busy courses.

However, there are several reasons why the length of round matters in golf, both recreationally and professionally.

Firstly, in non-professional games, maintaining an appropriate round length is a matter of courtesy to fellow players. In this way, everyone can enjoy their game without unnecessary delays or extended waiting times.

Secondly, the pace of play is strictly enforced at the professional level. Organizations like the USGA have implemented rules and regulations during tournaments to promote a prompt pace.

For instance, players are typically given 40 seconds to stroke. On the course, efficiency and flow are extremely important.

Lastly, During peak seasons or on busy public courses, the duration of a round directly impacts the overall experience.

The National Golf Foundation estimates an 18-hole round during peak season takes four hours and sixteen minutes.

In congested courses, rounds frequently exceed five hours, which could discourage newcomers from playing.

How To Improving Your Round Time: Secret Tips

You can improve your round time by adopting efficient practices in golf. Avoid idle chatter, hit shots promptly, and navigate lost ball situations quickly. Smooth rounds result from smart cart usage, strategic club selection, and helping partners find balls.

Also, here are some other secret tips you must keep in mind:

  • Minimize unnecessary conversations during play. We recommend reserving discussions for between-hole breaks.
  • Ensure you’re ready when it’s your turn to play by limiting preparation time to one minute per shot.
  • If you find a lost ball, locate it within two minutes, not three.
  • Before starting a round, check that your golf bag is well-stocked and organized.
  • Drop off partners and drive to your ball, minimizing unnecessary back-and-forth.
  • Keeping an eye on your partner’s shots will help you locate lost balls quickly, contributing to playing faster.
  • Select tees according to the slope rating. It ensures a balanced challenge that keeps pace without diminishing enjoyment.

Can You Play 18 Holes of Golf in 2 Hours?

Yes, with proper planning and pacing, it is possible to play 18 holes of golf in two hours. Playing 18 holes of golf in 2 hours is highly improbable on a standard par-72 course. Typically, such a round takes around 4 hours to complete.

For experienced players, completing 18 holes in 2 hours is feasible on a par-3 course with shorter holes and fewer distances to cover.

This can also be done with four players, as each can complete nine holes in one hour and forty minutes. With the right strategy, players can make the most of their time and complete the course in two hours.

How Long Do 18 Holes of Golf Take With a Cart?

Completing 18 holes of golf typically takes around 4 to 4.5 hours when using a golf cart.

Of course, this can vary depending on how quickly you play. Playing faster can reduce this time, and playing slower can increase it.

It is also crucial to remember that the weather can also affect the time it takes to complete 18 holes of golf.

While course difficulty, course traffic, and group size may affect the duration, utilizing a cart generally speeds up the pace of play.


Can you play 18 holes in 3 hours?

While completing 18 holes of golf in 3 hours is theoretically possible, it’s challenging and not typical. The average round usually spans 3-5 hours, with 4 hours being a standard benchmark.

How many steps are 18 holes of golf?

On average, golfers take approximately 11,948 steps per 18-hole round, with a standard deviation of +/- 1781 steps. Most golfers tend to exceed 10,000 steps during a typical round.

How many calories do you burn in 18 holes of golf?

A person of average size can burn approximately 800 calories by walking around the course, getting into and out of the cart, and swinging 36 times.

How many kilometers does it take to walk an 18-hole golf course?

Each golfer walks approximately 8.5 kilometers from the first tee to the 18th green during a typical 18-hole round.

The total distance is about 9.5 kilometers, including distance from the parking lot, clubhouse, and practice area.

Is every round the same?

Only some 18-hole rounds of golf are the same in terms of duration. Generally, longer and more challenging courses require more time, while flatter courses play faster.

Final Note

The length of time it takes to play 18 holes of golf can vary greatly depending on several factors, such as course layout, player skill level, and pace of play.

However, on average, it can take anywhere from 3 to 5 hours to complete a round of 18 holes. Keep an eye on their pace and be respectful of other players on the course.

Read More: How Long Does It Take To Play 9 Holes Of Golf

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Hey, I am Allen Jackson a golf expert with over 30 years of experience. From my childhood, I have found my passion. I played on high school and college teams and went on to become a professional golfer. Now, I am a full-time trainer.