Playing 18 holes takes four hours on most occasions, although certain factors can add or subtract time from your round.
For example, if you are playing with a group that regularly posts scores in the 70s and 80s, the fewer shots collectively hit will undoubtedly lead to a quicker pace of play on the golf course.
And if you are alone and looking at a relatively empty golf course in a golf cart, you can play one round of golf in roughly two hours if your handicap is under 10.
But what if your handicap is higher and you’re playing on a busy golf course? How do you save time so you aren’t spending all day on the course?
In this guide to finding out how long does it take to play 18 holes of golf, I’ll break down why a round of golf takes 240 minutes and provide tips to help you trim that time to maximize your enjoyment on the links.
How Long Does It Take to Play 18 Holes of Golf: An Overview
How Long Should My Round Take?
A group of four golfers riding in carts should complete a round in four hours.
If you are playing at a well-run course with marshals and spaced-out start times from the tee box, your pace should remain steady and smooth, offering maximum golfing enjoyment for your group.
The typical time of a round alters once you begin playing with fewer golfing partners, by walking the course, or with efficient or poor course management from the staff at a golf course.
What Can Cause My Day at the Course to Run Long?
One of the most common ways that round time gets bloated comes through poor course management by the staff at the golf club.
Allowing playing groups of more than four golfers can significantly slow down the pace of the round. This practice is common at rural golf courses with lower green fees.
To avoid these types of hurdles to efficient playing times, call ahead to the pro shop and ask them about their policies on allowing large groups on the course.
Do Tee Time Intervals Affect Total Playing Time?
Yes, if you are playing on a course with eight-minute intervals, you can expect congestion on par 3s and shorter par 5s as players try to go for the green on busier days.
With 12 minutes between tee box starts, you can breathe more as players are spread out and not on top of each other. The wider interval prevents the dreaded round that lasts five hours or longer.
Does Walking the Course Add More Time to My Round?
Many casual golfers think that walking the course versus taking a golf cart adds time to their round, and while that might be true for the beginning golfer or high handicapper, experienced walking players can cover 18 holes relatively quickly.
If you are playing in a cart and your partner is walking the golf course, they can stay ahead by heading to the next tee after they putt out.
Of course, having an off day can make 18 holes of golf take much longer than usual, especially if you are walking and having to find a ball on each hole.
5 Tips for Saving Time While Playing Golf
1. Playing Early, Playing Late
If you are looking for the best way to trim precious minutes from your average playing time, the easiest way is by playing either early or late in the day.
By playing early, you typically get onto the course before the regular daily golfers, but that comes with a higher green fee. So, if you are on a budget, I suggest playing later in the day to take advantage of the twilight pricing that most golf courses offer the public.
If you book the first tee time, for example, you should have the entire course ahead of you with the hazards of slow players or larger groups ahead.
In this scenario, if you play ready golf and are alone or with just one other playing partner, you could potentially play a round of golf in less than 2.5 hours.
2. Scan Online for Best Tee Times
One of the easiest ways to miss the crowd and prevent playing with a group ahead of you is by monitoring the online tee times provided by the golf course you are looking to play.
If you notice a sweet spot where six to eight tee times are open, you can start your round in the middle of that grouping of tee time intervals to provide a cushion for your partners.
3. Playing Ready Golf
One of the worst ways to add additional time to your playing round is by taking far too long with each shot.
The average golfer should have a pre-shot method to keep the pace of play moving quickly. That means you don’t take too many practice swings, and after hitting your shot, you are already looking at your strategy for hitting the next shot.
If you use a rangefinder, immediately take a yardage reading and trust the number. Having an established method before hitting each shot prevents slow play and gets into a better rhythm that will help you shoot a low score.
4. Have a Plan for Lost Balls
Another way to derail your pace of play on many golf courses is by not having an established rule for your partners regarding lost golf balls.
By knowing what the plan is for a lost ball, you can prevent your average time from blowing up just because you’re spending time on the golf hole searching for a golf ball.
If you hit a wayward tee shot and you’re unsure if you can find the ball, then you can hit a provisional ball, but if you want to streamline your playing time, make every out-of-bounds a hazard and play with the rules you’d typically face in that situation.
Adopting a one-shot penalty plus a drop for hitting out of bounds can save 20-30 minutes per round for casual golfers.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to play 18 holes with a cart?
The average round takes roughly four hours if you play with three other partners and share two carts. Times will vary based upon the day you play golf, with the weekend causing the longest rounds as more people are typically on the course.
Faster rounds occur during the week as fewer golfers play a casual round, saving that instead for the weekend.
How long does it take 3 men to play 18 holes of golf?
Three golfers should play a round of golf in three hours on a standard golf course.
With skilled players and experienced playing partners, the expected time can drop significantly if your group maintains a good pace throughout the round and plays with golf carts.
How long does it usually take to play 18 holes?
The typical round of golf takes four hours, whether you are walking the course or riding around in a golf cart. If you want to play shorter times for a full round of golf, you can play with fewer golfers to limit more shots being taken while on the golf course.
On the PGA Tour, round times can reach 4.5 to 6 hours based on the course difficulty and overall pace of play.
How long does it take for 2 people to play 9 holes?
Two people should expect to play nine holes in roughly two hours.
If they both share a high skill level and play in the mid-afternoon when the course typically doesn’t have a lot of golfers, then they can clock a playing time of 90 minutes, especially if there are wide tee time intervals and no slow play groups in front of them.