The answer to this question may seem simple, but it's actually quite complicated. And probably the reason it's always asked and why the answer is always different.
There are a lot of factors that can affect how long it takes to play 18 holes of golf. Everything from the number of people in your group to the course you're playing on can impact the time of your round. In this blog post, we'll take a look at some of the most common factors that can affect your golf game and offer some tips on how to keep things moving along.
Generally speaking, a round of 18 holes could take anywhere between 3 and 5 hours and sometimes longer. If you're a single, a decent golfer, and have the course to yourself there's no reason you can't finish a round in under 3 hours. But if you're in a foursome at Pebble Beach you can expect a round of over 6 hours.
That's a pretty wide gap that needs some clarification. Here are six things to keep in mind the next time you hit the links.
The Number of Players in Your Group
One of the biggest factors that can affect your golf game is the number of people in your group. If you're playing with a foursome, for example, it's going to take longer to get through each hole than if you're playing as a twosome or a single. That's because there are more people hitting more shots, which means more time spent looking for lost balls and waiting for everyone to tee off.
One way to combat this is to agree on a "ready golf" policy before starting your round. Ready golf means that players can hit their shots when they're ready. This means they don't have to wait for their playing partners who may be behind them and should be hitting first. But they could still be looking for their ball. This can help speed things up and keep everyone moving along.
The Golf Course - Length and Difficulty
Another factor that can affect your golf game is the course you're playing on. Some courses are simply longer than others, which means it's going to take more time to get through 18 holes. And if the course is particularly challenging, with narrow fairways or tough greens, or filled with hazards and out of bounds that can also add extra time to your round. There's not much you can do about this one except choose your courses wisely and be prepared for a longer round if necessary.
Walking or Riding a Golf Cart
Walking is obviously going to take longer than riding, but it's also a lot more exercise! If you're trying to get in a workout while also getting in some golf, then, by all means, walk the course. But if you're just out for fun, then riding might be the way to go.
If you are walking a regulation golf course you can expect to log 5 to 6 miles or maybe more. This could add 40 to 60 minutes to your round versus riding a golf cart, assuming the golf course doesn't limit driving on the fairways.
The Skill of your Playing Partners
This is where things can start to get hairy. If you're playing with a bunch of scratch golfers who are always hitting it straight and never missing a fairway or green, things are going to move along quickly. Just make sure it doesn't take you 5 shots to get out of the bunker - they might not want to wait around for you.
But if you've got some high handicappers in your group who are spraying it all over the place, well...let's just say it's going to be a long day. Let's hope they at least know the rules and etiquette of the game.
The Pace of Play - How Busy is the Course
This is probably the biggest wild card when it comes to predicting how long your round will take. If the course is packed and there are groups backed up on every tee box, you're going to be spending a lot of time waiting around between shots. But if you've got the place to yourself, you can zip right along.
Ah yes, good old Mother Nature. She can be such a fickle mistress sometimes. If it's hot and humid out, that's going to slow things down as everyone tries to stay hydrated and stay out of the sun as much as possible. If there's a gentle breeze blowing and it's nice and mild, that will help keep things moving along at a decent clip. But if it's cold, wet, windy...well, let's just say it's not going to be pleasant for anyone involved.
Keep an eye on the forecast before booking your tee time so you know what kind of conditions to expect—and how that might affect your game time.
But what does the USGA say? They provide recommended times by hole. Here they are.
- Par 3s - 13 minutes
- Par 4s - 15 minutes
- Par 5s - 16 to 18 minutes
That would put a foursome at about 4.5 hours.
So there you have it. There are a lot of factors that can affect your game time, from the number of people in your group to the course you're playing on. But with a little planning and forethought, you can make sure your round goes as smoothly as possible.
If you're looking to speed up your pace of play but enjoy walking, we have the perfect solution - golf bags for push carts. See below.