How Long Do 9 Holes of Golf Take to Finish?

Golf is a fun game, but not knowing how long it will take can be a problem.

Can you finish 9 holes in two hours or will it take longer? How about 18 holes with 4 players? There are so many factors to think about that could potentially prolong your game.

Most of us are not professionals and have other obligations, so when you’re busy with work or family, it’s hard to plan your day.

But don’t worry, I will answer your questions about how long a game of golf usually takes and give you some tips on how to finish your game faster.

So, even if you’re super busy, you can still enjoy a good game of golf without worrying about time.

How Long Do 9 Holes of Golf Take?

When you’re preparing for a round of golf, it’s important to have a clear idea of how long the game might take.

two men talking at a golf course while playing a 9 hole golf game


In golf, the number of players can greatly impact the duration of a round. Let’s take a look at some average estimates for how long a 9-hole game typically lasts, depending on whether you’re playing solo, in a pair, a trio, or with four balls.

Remember, these are just my rough estimates and the actual duration can vary based on a number of factors including the skill levels of the players, the difficulty of the course, and even the weather conditions on the day, as presented here by Randa.

No. of players9 holesPar 5sPar 4sPar 3s
145mins - 1 hour10 minutes8 minutes7 minutes
21.5 to 2 hours12 minutes10 minutes8 minutes
32 - 2.5 hours14 minutes12 minutes9 minutes
42.5 - 3 hours16 minutes13 minutes10 minutes

2 Players

With two players, a round of 9 holes typically lasts between 1.5 to 2 hours.

This estimate assumes that both players maintain a steady pace and don’t encounter any significant delays.

The pace could be even quicker if both players are experienced and use motorized golf carts to move around the course.

In my experience, using a cart saves 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the course and who I’m playing with.

3 Players

Adding an additional player increases the time slightly.

For a group of three, you should expect a 9-hole round to last approximately 2 to 2.5 hours.

Again, this time can be shorter or longer based on the skill level of the players and the difficulty of the course.

From a duo to four balls, a round of 9 holes can range from 1.5 to 3 hours, with factors like player skill level, the use of golf carts, and course etiquette playing crucial roles in pace of play.

Using golf carts and practicing efficient playing habits can help maintain a brisk pace. I’ll talk more about these below.

4 Players

For a standard game of four balls, a 9-hole round of golf typically takes between 2.5 to 3 hours to complete.

This is the most common grouping on many golf courses.

While the time is slightly longer than with smaller groups, strategic play and good course etiquette can still help keep the game moving at a decent pace.

If you’re pressed for time, you can play a foursome which is a golf format in which a pair of golfers form a team and play a single ball between them.

Factors That Influence the Length of a Golf Game

A multitude of factors can impact the time it takes to complete a round of golf. More often than not, I’ve found my initial estimates to be off, sometimes even leading to unfinished rounds that had to be cut short.

closeup of a man hitting a golf ball on a golf course


While it’s essential to have an estimate of how long a game might take, bear in mind that your actual time on the course can differ.

Here are some key factors that, in my experience, can significantly influence the duration of your golf game.

Skill Level of the Players

As you might expect, the skill level of the players has a direct impact on the length of a game.

Beginner golfers usually take longer as they’re still mastering their swings, course navigation, and golf etiquette.

Beginners tend to take longer due to mastering swings and course navigation, while advanced players, anticipating shots effectively, finish rounds faster.

Intermediate and advanced players, who can better anticipate their shots and navigate the course, typically complete a round faster.

When I was just starting out, a 9-hole game took me much longer to complete than today, just because I had to take more swings.

Size and Complexity of the Course

The size and complexity of the golf course itself play a major role in determining the game’s duration.

Larger courses with more par-4s and par-5s will generally take longer to play than smaller courses dominated by par-3s.

golf course with a pond and a bridge


Furthermore, courses with more complex layouts, including those with numerous water hazards, bunkers, or dense vegetation, can slow down play.

For example, if your ball ends up in the water, you first need to make sure that it actually fell in the water and somewhere around it. Then, you need to decide whether to take a drop close to the water or hit another tee shot to make up for it. This could significantly add up to the overall time.

Golf Course Rules and Pace-of-Play Policies

Most golf courses have set rules and pace-of-play policies to ensure that all players have a good experience.

Courses may require groups to allow faster players to play through or may have strict turn times at the halfway house.

Not following these rules can result in slow-play penalties, affecting the overall length of your round.

Remember, these rules are there to ensure everyone has a good time on the court, so inform yourself about them and try to follow them closely.

Adhering to golf course rules and pace-of-play policies, like allowing faster play through and employing ‘ready golf,’ can optimize the game pace, ensuring a smoother experience for all players.

Moreover, if you’re playing with more players, I advise playing ready golf instead of standard golf.

Ready golf simply means that whoever is free to take their shot can go next. Whereas in standard golf, whoever is the furthest from the pin has to take their shot first.

Walking or Riding a Golf Cart

The mode of transportation around the course significantly influences the game’s pace.

two golf carts on a golf course


Walking a course tends to take longer than riding in a golf cart. However, the impact of this factor can vary based on the course’s terrain and layout and the golfer’s fitness level.

In my experience, riding a golf cart can save around 20 minutes, especially on longer courses or if I’m playing with someone who’s not in great shape.

Weather Conditions

Lastly, weather conditions can play a surprising role in the time it takes to complete a round.

Windy conditions can make shots more difficult and slow down play, while rain can make the course slippery and slow, increasing the time it takes to get around.

Conversely, optimal weather conditions can lead to quicker rounds.

Personally, if the day is particularly windy and I wanted to play a full round of 18 holes, I usually change my plans and go for 9 holes instead so I can enjoy my time better.

How to Speed Up Your Golf Round

If you’re looking to get in a quick round of golf without sacrificing the enjoyment of the game, there are a few strategies that can help you speed up your play.

Here are a few that I employ in most of my games when I’m pressed for time.

Schedule a Tee Time in Advance

By scheduling your tee time in advance, you can avoid waiting for other groups to start their round, thus ensuring a smoother start to your game.

three golfers playing on a golf course


When you call a golf course to schedule a tee time, they will typically give you several starting times to choose from. Try to arrive at least 15 minutes early to give yourself time to prepare before the start of your time.

Use a Golf Cart if Possible

A golf cart can greatly reduce the time spent walking between holes. However, make sure to follow the cart path rules and park in designated areas to avoid any penalties.

Golf cart rental prices are usually affordable but can differ from one course to another. If you want to find out how much a golf cart costs and get your own, I recommend reading the guide I’ve written that’s linked here.

Play Ready Golf with Multiple Players

As I’ve explained briefly above, in ready golf, the player who is ready to hit goes first, rather than strictly adhering to the “farthest from the hole plays first” rule.

a group of golfers walking on a golf course


This can greatly speed up the pace of the game. I typically stick to this rule when I’m playing with inexperienced golfers, if the group is big, or if the course is busy.

Speed Up Your Play

  • Play from the Appropriate Tee: Choose a tee that suits your skill level. Playing from a tee that’s too difficult for you can lead to extra strokes and slow down the game.
  • Don’t Take Mulligans: While tempting, re-hitting a poorly played shot, or taking a mulligan, can add unnecessary time to your round. Play the ball as it lies to maintain pace.
  • Take a Gimme When You’re Struggling: If you’re within a couple of feet of the hole and struggling, take a gimme (accepting the next stroke as given) to speed things up.
  • Limit the Time You Spend Looking for Balls: Spend no more than a couple of minutes searching for a lost ball. It’s quicker to drop a new ball with a one-stroke penalty than to waste time searching.

Frequently Asked Questions


Conclusion

Understanding the duration of a golf game, particularly a 9-hole round, can significantly enhance your planning and enjoyment of the sport.

closeup of a blue flag on a golf course


While a round can range from 1.5 to 3 hours, depending on the number of players, it’s crucial to remember that various factors influence these timings.

These can include the skill level of players, course size and complexity, the course’s rules and pace-of-play policies, your choice of transportation, and weather conditions.

Fortunately, there are ways to speed up your round, such as scheduling a tee time, using a golf cart, playing ready golf, and employing a few time-saving strategies during play.

Remember, the goal is to enjoy the game while respecting other players’ time and the spirit of the sport.

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