Years ago, there were studies done to determine why more and more golfers were quitting the game. Although you may think that the reason had everything to do with slicing the golf ball or $600 drivers, the real reason was slow play.

There is no way around it, slow play is annoying, and it makes your entire round of golf feel as though it is dragging. When you play a slow round of golf, you lose your interest and the rhythm that you had going in your swing. The first step in playing faster golf is to learn how long a round of golf should take.

We will explore this topic and give you some tips for playing faster golf the next time you head out to the course.

How Long Does it Take To Play a Full Round of Golf?

An eighteen-hole round of golf with four average golfers should take no more than four hours. As long as the players are playing ready golf and everyone is focusing on helping each other find their golf balls, there is no reason to spend more than four hours on 18 holes of golf.

For a nine-hole round, you can expect the time to be about half as long. Some golfers will find that the nine hole rounds will be just under two hours as there is no stopping in the middle for lunch or a bathroom break.

If you are playing by yourself, the time it takes to play golf can be extremely fast. You may be able to play a round of golf in two hours if there is no one on the golf course in front of you. There are lots of questions that golfers have about the pace of play and how it will be impacted by skill level, walking vs. riding, and the type of hole you are playing.

How Long Does It Take To Play Each Golf Hole image of average time to play a round of golf - AEC Info

Some golf courses are going to put a target time on your scorecard. The time can let you know how long the par 4s, par 5s, and par 3s should take. It may also give you a target for your entire round and what the total pace should be.

As a general guideline, you should factor in about this much time for each golf hole you are playing.

  • Par 3: about 10 minutes
  • Par 4: 12-15 minutes
  • Par 5: 15-27 minutes

Of course, golfers who lose a golf ball or shoot very high scores will likely have slower rounds than the lower handicap players. Faster rounds are achieved by being efficient about how you play. Slow grounds can easily spend 30 minutes on a hole simply by looking for lost golf balls, talking too much, or spending time moving the cart around.

Some golf holes that have water hazards or sand traps will take longer than others because of the trouble these factors can cause players.

Factors That Impact Pace of Play

Lots of factors are going to impact play on any given day. Sometimes these factors will align, and it will make your round closer to 6 hours instead of four. This is extremely frustrating, but it does happen. Here are some of the factors that impact the length of your golf rounds.

image of length of time to play a round of golf - AEC InfoLength of Golf Course

Some golf courses are extremely long. When shots on a par 3 are over 200 yards, those par 3s tend to take quite a bit more time. People struggle to hit these types of shots accurately, and the overall round takes a long time. For long and difficult courses, it is more likely to spend five hours on the course than 4 hours.

Skill Level of Player

High handicap golfers can learn to play the game really fast. Many golf professionals will tell you that learning to play ready golf and hit your shot when it is your turn is more important than being a great golfer. However, when you only take 70 shots instead of 110 shots, your round will take less time. Higher handicap golfers need to do everything they can to keep up with their group and the group in front of them.

Walking vs. Riding

It is an automatic assuming that those riding in a golf cart play faster. However, this is not the case. Yes, if you are alone on the golf course and flying around in a cart, you can play an 18 hole round in less than 2 hours. However, this is a rare situation.

For the most part, walking is just as fast and sometimes faster than riding. When you walk the golf course, you can go directly to your golf ball each time. Your path around the course is much more direct, and you can always vary the pace of your walk to keep up with groups in front of you.

Walking saves time on the green as your equipment will be just a few feet from you.

Tee Time Intervals

Some golf courses will put players out in 8-minute intervals, and some will go to 10 or 12. The intervals of the tee times could end up filling the golf course with people, and the pace will slow down. Most of the time, when players have some space between them, they have an easier time moving through the golf course.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The pace of play is a big issue in the golf world, bringing up a lot of questions. The most important thing about how long it takes to play golf is having awareness. Be aware of where your golf ball is, where the groups are behind you and in front of you and where you stand for total time spent on the course.

How Fast Can You Play An 18 Hole Round of Golf?

If a golf course is wide open and you are playing a round on your own, you should be able to play in less than two hours. The pace of play is incredibly fast when you have only your golf ball to focus on. This situation does not come up all that often for most players, but getting to play 18 holes in this amount of time is a real treat when it happens.

How Long Does A Round Of Golf Take For 2 Players?

Playing 18 holes of golf with two people should take around 3 hours. Some golfers can do it closer to 2.5, but 3 hours is a good goal to have. As you can see, the time it takes to play 18 holes is significantly increased by the number of players in the group.

What Slows Down Golfers On The Course?

The average golfer will get slowed down by a poor shot, spending too much time looking for golf balls, and poor golf cart and equipment management. If you are smart about where you park the cart and what equipment you bring up to the tees and the greens, you can shave quite a few minutes off of your round of golf.


In case you couldn’t figure it out, all of the writers at AEC Info believe slow golf is terrible golf. If you can’t play 18 holes in 4 hours or less, you will likely feel as though your round was less enjoyable, and you didn’t play as well as you could have. The great news is that golf does not need to be slow.

As long as all players start to pay attention to their own golf shots, stay focused on the task at hand and move along between holes, golf can get much faster. If you want to ensure that your pace of play is fast, try and avoid the busiest times of the day. Tee off very early or late in the afternoon to enjoy a much faster round of golf.

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