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How Long Does 18 Holes of Golf Take?

Golf is one of those sports that can be relaxing yet require time and dedication. However, not every golfer has the same amount of available leisure time, especially compared to professionals who dedicate their lives to the sport. 

Does this mean that people with work obligations and familial responsibilities can no longer consider golf a relaxing activity? If you’re planning to play 18 holes, it’s only natural to wonder about the average time it would take to complete the round while still having a fun and relaxing time with your golf mates.

While many factors determine how long a round of golf will take, on average, you can expect it to take about 4 hours to 4.5 hours to complete 18 holes of golf, assuming you have a group of no more than four and you are all average players. 

Keep reading to learn the factors that determine how long it’ll take to play 18 holes of golf and six tips to manage your time on the course a little better.

Let’s get started!

How Long Should Each Type of Hole Take?

The USGA (United States Golf Association) developed a “pace of play” guide to help golfers manage their time on the course better. This guide gives specific expectations for how long each type of hole should take:

  • Groups of three: par 3’s should take about 13 minutes, par 4’s 15 minutes, and par 5’s 17 minutes. 
  • Groups of two: par 3’s should take about 11 minutes, par 4’s 13 minutes, and par 5’s 15 minutes.

Remember that these times can vary depending on the course, how crowded it is, and your speed. But using this as a general guideline can help keep your game’s flow moving smoothly.

Factors That Affect How Long a Round of Golf Takes

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As mentioned above, other factors can influence how long it takes to play 18 holes. So, being mindful of these factors will give you an estimated time frame for a round of golf.

The Golfer’s Skill Level

A golfer’s proficiency at hitting the ball determines their skill level. The more proficient the golfer, the faster they can finish 18 holes of golf. Here’s a breakdown of a golfer’s skill level and how it can affect their playing time:

  • Beginner: A beginner takes more time to complete a hole because they’re not as consistent with their shots yet. This also goes for those playing on a new golf course; they’ll likely spend time scouting the layout and strategizing their shots.
  • Experienced golfers: By contrast, an experienced golfer can complete a hole in less time, especially if they’re already familiar with the golf course.

Plan groups ahead by each player’s ability if you’re playing with others but have limited time. Also, if you’re a new golf player, don’t expect to complete 18 holes in less than a few hours.

Playing Speed of the Golfers in the Group

When golfing with a group of people, the speed at which each member plays will affect how long it’ll take to complete 18 holes. 

For example, if one person in the group takes a long time to hit their shots, it can slow down the whole group and cause everyone else to fall behind. On the other hand, if everyone in the group is playing quickly, it can lead to a quicker round of golf.

Number of Golfers in the Group

The number of golfers in a group also influences how long it’ll take to finish 18 holes. More golfers mean more time waiting for each person to hit their shots. 

So, if you’re short on time, play golf with only two or three people. Two or three members will significantly decrease the odds of slow play.

Golf Course Difficulty

The golf course’s difficulty greatly affects how long it’ll take to play 18 holes. Several factors can influence a golf course’s difficulty, such as the following:

  • The length of the hole
  • The amount of trees and other obstacles
  • The elevation changes
  • The location of the tee box

If you’re unfamiliar with the course and want to play 18 holes quickly, scan and plan your shots so you won’t spend some time on a challenging hole.

Weather Conditions

Weather conditions can significantly impact how long it’ll take to play 18 holes. This is especially true when playing in extreme weather conditions, such as high winds or heavy rain.

  • High Winds: This weather condition can cause golf balls to travel farther than usual. As a result, you’ll take more time to hit your shots. You’ll also need more time walking from one hole to the next.
  • Heavy Rains: Heavy rains can make the course slippery and affect your balance. Like playing golf during high winds, you may find it hard to hit your shots and need more time traversing to another hole.

Thus, if you don’t have the luxury of time, refrain from playing golf in extreme weather conditions.

6 Tips To Help You Save Time on Golf Courses

Now that you know the factors that can influence how long it takes to play 18 holes of golf, here are some tips that can help you save time on any golf course.

1. Don’t Waste Time Looking for Lost Balls or Taking Unnecessary Practice Swings 

When playing a golf round, it’s essential to focus on the task at hand. Refrain from wasting time looking for a lost ball or taking unnecessary practice swings. Also, use the correct type of ball for the course you’re playing. If you lose a golf ball, take a penalty and move on. 

Also, make sure to know which hand to wear your golf glove to maximize efficiency.

2. Use The Right Club

This might seem like common sense, but using the wrong club for a particular shot can slow you down. There are many different golf clubs, each with a specific use. 

The following is a list of some of the most common clubs and when you should use them:

  • Driver: The driver is the longest club in your bag and is used for longer distances. Use this club on relatively short holes with few obstacles.
  • Woods: Woods is similar to drivers but has shorter shafts. They’re perfect for hitting balls over long distances and are typically used on holes with more obstacles.
  • Irons: Irons are used for shorter shots and are perfect when you need to get the ball out of sand traps or tight situations.
  • Wedges: Wedges are also used for shorter shots but have much higher lofts than irons. This makes them perfect for getting the ball up in the air quickly.
  • Putter: The putter is the club you use when putting the ball into the hole. Use a smooth, steady stroke when putting so you don’t lose accuracy.

3. Take Care of Your Equipment 

Did you know that taking care of your equipment can help you save time playing golf? Stopping and fixing your clubs or golf balls while you’re in the middle of a game will consume everybody’s time. Therefore, regularly clean your golf clubs so they’ll perform their best. Also, don’t forget to pack extra golf balls and tees in your bag in case you lose one.

Taking care of golf equipment revolves around proper cleaning and storage.


You can use a damp cloth or a brush to clean your golf clubs. Make sure to remove any dirt or debris that may have gotten on the clubface. If there’s any sap or sticky substances on the club, use alcohol to remove them.


When not in use, it’s essential to store your golf clubs in a safe place –– closet, garage or shed, or the trunk of your car. This will help keep them in good condition and prevent them from getting damaged.

4. Be Prepared

When it’s your turn to hit next, always have the appropriate club in your hands. If you take too long to get ready, you might hold up the rest of the group, causing you and everyone delays. 

Moreover, preparing means knowing the course and each hole’s location before taking practice shots. It also helps to know the yardage for each hole so you can pick the right club for every shot you make.

5. Use a Golf Cart

Riding a golf cart can help you save time, as you can move around the course more quickly. They’re also perfect for players who have difficulty walking long distances. 

Most golf courses offer golf carts for rent; some even have electric carts that anyone can drive, regardless of age or ability. You can rent carts for single or multiple rounds, and many golf courses offer discounts if players use them for multiple games. 

Here are some safety tips you should always have in mind when riding a golf cart:

  • Wear a seat belt
  • Follow all the rules of the course
  • Drive carefully and avoid going too fast

6. Pace Yourself

One of the most important things when playing golf is pacing yourself correctly. This means taking enough time on each shot but don’t overdo it. If you rush through your swings, you might not play well, causing you to take more time on the golf course.

Enjoy Your Time! 

How long does it take to play 18 holes of golf? Generally, it takes about 4 hours, but many factors can extend this time. Nevertheless, there are ways for golfers to save time while playing 18 holes.

While it’s important to focus on your game and save as much time as possible, don’t forget to have fun with your playing partners. After all, that’s why you’re on the course in the first place! 

Golf can be a great way to relax and de-stress. So, next time you’re feeling frazzled, try not to get too caught up in the competition and enjoy the beautiful scenery and fresh air!