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Factors that determine how long golf takes to play

Factors That Determine How Long Golf Takes To Play

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Golf is a great sport to play for many reasons, but it can also be a sport that takes up a lot of time. This is why lots of people want to know how long golf takes to play.

First off, it depends whether you’re playing a 9-hole round or going for a full 18 holes, but it’s not just as simple as saying X-holes takes X amount of time, because there are many factors that determine how long a round of golf can take.

Let’s take a look below at the different things that can affect the amount of time it may take to complete a round.



Course conditions can contribute to the length of time a round of golf can take. For example, if it’s wet and windy, the course will be harder to navigate, and you’ll probably hit more shots than you would if you were playing in pristine sunshine.

Reversely, if the course is dry and conditions are favourable, you’ll likely get round a lot quicker than you would if the rain was pouring down.


Number of players

This is a bit of a given really. If you’re playing alone, 9 holes or 18 holes will take far less time to complete than if you were playing with a partner. Likewise, playing as a two ball, you’re likely to have the round wrapped up far quicker than if you were playing in a four ball. For every player you add to your round, the time it takes to complete goes up.


Is the course busy?

Sometimes nine holes can take much longer than it should, regardless of course conditions or the number of players in your group, and this is just because the course may be busy. Busy golf course can be one of the main factors on how long golf takes to play.

busy golf course with many people

If the course you are playing is unusually busy, then there’s likely to be delays, which means waiting for the group in front to clear before shots can be played.


Course difficulty

The difficulty of the course also plays a big part in the length of time a round takes. For example, playing on a relatively flat, open course will likely be easier to navigate than a tight course full of trees and undulations.

Because flat course is easier to navigate, it will likely take the average player less time. As a result, the round will be completed in less time.

Generally, the more difficult the course, for an amateur player, the longer it will take to complete.


Are you using a cart?

The use of a golf cart can alter the length of time that a round can take too. Obviously you spent a large part of your time on a golf course walking... But if you use the cart it eliminates the vast majority of that time. This means you can complete the round somewhat speedily when in a cart.



Naturally a player’s ability can dictate how long a round will take to complete. A very accomplished player can probably complete a standard nine holes anywhere between 1.25 and 1.5 hours, other factors permitting.

The same player is likely to take around 2.5 hours to complete 18 holes. But a poor player may take over 3 hours. Likewise, four high handicappers playing together could take up to five hours to complete a full 18-hole round.



If you wonder how to speed up the play, focus on the things you can control. You can't control course difficulty, course traffic etc. But you can control your skills and ability to play faster. With practice you will play better, and when you play better, you're faster. 

Another way to speed up your game is to walk faster or taking a golf cart. Don't rush yourself on the shots. Just walk faster, think about your next shot during a pre-shot routine of another player, and you're good to go.


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