How Long Does 9 Holes of Golf Take? (Estimated Time for 1-4 Players)

It can be tough to fit a round of golf into a busy schedule, which is why it’s so helpful to know the time it takes to play a round of 9 or 18 holes.

How long does it take to play 9 holes? An average foursome could play 9 holes in about 2 to 3 hours on foot. If fewer players were playing, you’d subtract ~30 minutes per player. More experienced golfers play faster with efficient pre-swing routines. Using a golf cart could add time if you ride to each ball together.

As you can see, your pace of play can vary based on many factors, including your experience, whether you use a cart or not, and if you have some time-saving habits.

As a golf professional with nearly three decades of experience, I’ve learned how to estimate my round and even speed up my game when necessary.

Read on to learn how to determine how long your round will take, including factors to consider, tips to speed up your round, and mistakes to avoid.

How Long Does It Take To Play 9 Holes?

Skip below this section if you just want the answer and are curious about the factors. Or you can see how to estimate how long it would take you to play 9 holes based on average figures.

How long does it take to play 9 holes (3) (1)

How Long Does It Take To Hit Your Shots?

Start by estimating how long it would take to hit your shots. You can consider a few average figures:

  • The average golf score for 9 holes is around 45 to 50 shots.
  • The average golfer takes 1 minute per shot.

Therefore, an average player could hit their shots for 9 holes in 45 to 50 minutes.

How Long Does It Take To Walk The Course?

Now you can consider how long it takes to walk the course:

  • The average golf course is 3.75 miles for 18 holes (1.88 miles for 9 holes). You’ll walk a bit more, so you can estimate you’d walk 2 miles.
  • The average person walks 3 miles per hour.

Therefore, an average player could walk 9 holes in 40 minutes. So it would take an average golfer 85 to 90 minutes to play a 9-hole round on foot.

You could add about 25 to 35 minutes per additional player.

Since some players can walk while others shoot, you can estimate this time by looking at tee shots and putts. These two shots must be taken one at a time, increasing the time it takes for a big group to play golf.

  • Each player hits 9 tee shots per round (1 per hole). Add 1 minute per shot.
  • Each player hits 18 to 24 putts per round (2-3 per hole). Add 1 minute per putt.

So how long does it take to play 9 holes? An average golfer playing alone would theoretically take ~90 minutes. But most golfers don’t play alone. So each additional player would add 27 to 33 minutes. Therefore, a foursome would take about 3 hours.

But newer golfers could take more than 3 hours alone! And a foursome of new golfers could take even longer. That’s why we’ll cover other factors that can affect how fast you play.

Factors That Influence Pace of Play In Golf

happy multiethnic golfers spending time together in golf course

There are many factors that influence pace of play in golf. These factors include, but may not be limited to the following:

  • Number of Players
  • Experience of Players
  • Walking vs Riding in Carts
  • Tee Time Intervals
  • Good Marshall/Ranger Program
  • Course Layout and Conditions
  • Weather Conditions
  • Format of Play

Number of Players

It is common for a tee time slot on the tee sheet to be taken up by four golfers. That number is more or less the standard, especially on busy days at a golf course.

If you’re playing with 4 people, less than 2.5 hours should be the goal.

Threesomes and twosomes are common as well. For the golf course, from a business standpoint, it is not ideal to have a single golfer go out to play alone.

If you’re playing with more than 4 players, you’d want to add about 20 minutes per person. But if you’re playing with inexperienced players, this could add a lot of extra time.

Experience of Players

Newer golfers tend to take longer to make their shots. They also might hit a shot into the deep rough, so you’ll have to factor in extra walking time.

Not to mention, all of the extra shots they’ll hit.

Regardless of experience level, the habits a golfer keeps while playing, will influence pace. Examples of good time-saving habits include:

  • Having an efficient and timely pre-shot routine.
  • Being ready and prepared when it is your turn to play.
  • Not wasting time in between shots (being on your phone, for example)
  • Paying attention to where a playing partner hits their shot. This helps you lose golf balls.

Walking vs. Riding in a Cart

Contrary to popular belief, riding in a cart may not actually be the fastest way to play golf. Why is that?

Golf carts are generally sent out with two players per cart. But golfers often hit their golf balls in different directions. With two in a cart, you’ll spend more time going to each ball separately.

With walking, a player is free to go straight to their ball after a shot.

Also, walking allows a golfer to prepare better between shots. This allows them to be ready to go once they reach their golf ball.

Tee Time Intervals

The spacing between each group at the course can vary greatly based on a course’s philosophy.

But anywhere from 7 to 10 minutes between groups is common.

Courses with tight tee time intervals often look to get as many players on the course as possible. This is for purposes of revenue generation. If this philosophy is not managed properly, it can prove to be dangerous in terms of pace of play. It can inevitably cause backups and slow play.

Having wider gaps in starting time intervals can help control pace of play issues, and help you finish a round faster.

Courses that use this philosophy could be seen as “giving up” starting times. This could be seen as lost revenue. However, they are setting themselves up for less slow play issues and happier golfers.

Good Marshall/Ranger Program

A good pace of play program is almost always spearheaded by well-trained marshals or rangers. These individuals can help move golfers along that may be falling behind pace.

They can also help in other areas, which helps the pace of play.

  • Helping golfers find lost golf balls.
  • Explaining the layout of a hole for a first-time golfer at a course.

And many other things that can help contribute to a good pace.

Course Layout and Conditions

If the course you’re playing on has a lot of “bottle-neck” holes, it can slow down your round.

Identifying potential “bottle-neck” holes is paramount in creating good pace. “Bottle-neck” holes are likely par-3 holes, drivable par-4 holes, and two-shot par-5s. This is especially true if they fall within a course’s first two or three holes.

Also, green speed and pin placements on greens can contribute to pace of play issues.

The United States Golf Association (USGA) has been doing considerable research over the years on pace of play. In 2014 they conducted research using data loggers. They gave golfers these to help track key points as they played a round.

Their Pace of Play Best Practices report estimates how long it will take you to play each hole.

Par 3 Par 4 Par 5
Group of Two 11 mins 13 mins 15 mins
Group of Three 13 mins 15 mins 17 mins

Weather Conditions

Weather conditions can affect how long it takes to play 9 or 18 holes. Most notably, wind and/or rain, can lead to slower than desired round times.

Weather woes are often unavoidable. However, a golfer can help mitigate weather issues with good preparation and planning.

Tips To Plan for Poor Weather Conditions:

  • Play more strategically to lessen the chances of lost balls in poor weather.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather. Staying dry can help you play better, which usually means faster.
  • Understand that the wind will affect all your shots, including chipping and putting. Playing smart on the greens in bad weather can help you save strokes and play faster.

Format of Play

Finally, the format of play can contribute to how long it takes to play 9 or 18 holes.

Take a four-person charity scramble, for example. These events usually have on-course games to help raise money. These take time. It is also common for unseasoned golfers to play in scrambles. This too can contribute to rounds lasting up to three hours for 9 holes and as many as 6 hours for 18 holes.

A serious professional event, such as with the PGA or LPGA Tours, can see rounds lasting as long as 5 or more hours as well.

Match play, where golfers play each other per hole rather than by total strokes, are often a little faster.

Tips on How To Improve Your Pace for 9 Holes

Golfer on a Rainy Day Swigning in the Fairway

Before diving into the factors that can affect your pace of play, here are a few quick tips to shorten the time it takes you to play a round.

  • Dress to stay dry and warm in the fall and cool in the summer.
  • Consider walking instead of using a cart
  • Turn off your phone
  • Improve your pre-shot routine
  • Consider going to courses with longer tee time intervals
  • Consider courses with helpful marshals
  • Avoid courses with many par-3s, drivable par-4s, and two-shot par-5s

Final Thoughts

Playing a 9-hole round should take roughly 2.5 hours. If you are playing in a threesome, twosome, or even as a single, it should take less.

As you have learned, your ability to play 9 holes at an acceptable pace of play is dependent on many factors. They include:

  • Number of Players
  • Experience of Players
  • Walking vs Riding in Carts
  • Tee Time Intervals
  • Good Marshall/Ranger Program
  • Course Layout and Conditions
  • Weather Conditions
  • Format of Play

Keeping these things in mind will help keep 9 hole rounds of golf enjoyable and timely.


Couple of golf players have good game in their weekend time

Can You Play 9 Holes Faster With a Golf Cart?

While a golf cart can get you from point A to point B faster, walking may be faster. With two people generally in a cart in most cases, you may have twice the distance to cover. A golfer that is walking can go directly to their ball.

Are New Golfers Generally Slower Players?

Not necessarily. Playing ability and knowledge can certainly help make them a faster golfer. But ultimately, their habits on the course and how they manage their time lead to fast or slow play. These habits include, but are not limited to:

  • Having a rehearsed pre-shot routine.
  • Being ready when it is your turn to shoot.
  • Turn your phone on mute.
  • Helping spot your partner’s shot to avoid losing balls.

Can the Golf Course Be a Factor in How Long It Takes To Play 9 Holes?

Absolutely. Course layout, with potential “bottlenecks” such as a drivable par 4, or a long par 3, can slow things down. The speed of the greens or difficulty of the greenside bunkers can also slow up play. These all affect how long it will take to play the golf course.

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PGA Professional Brendon Elliott is the founder of Little Linksters, LLC, and its nonprofit arm, the Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf Development. He is the winner of 25+ prestigious industry honors, including the 2017 PGA National Youth Player Development award. Brendon is a respected coach, businessman, writer, and golf industry expert. 

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