How Long is a Golf Tournament: Tips for Viewing Included


Golf tournaments can be exciting entertainment for fans and also a great challenge for golfers.  Many people enjoy attending professional golf tournaments as fans to watch their favorite golfers play or to simply be amazed by the quality of golf.  

The courses where professional tournaments are held are typically very challenging and in great shape.  I have been fortunate enough to attend the Masters, A US Open at Oakmont, The Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone and Jack’s Tournament the Memorial. 

All of these tournaments brought some special opportunities to see a course, walk the course, and take in some excellent golf.  

Fortunately, I have on several occasions been standing right behind or next to Tiger Woods as he hit a shot.  That experience is truly something special.

So to answer the key question, let’s dive right in.

There is nothing like the Masters!

How Long is a Golf Tournament?

A golf tournament will range from 1 round to 4 rounds with the majority of the professional golf tournaments lasting 4 rounds.  The champions tour will play 3 round tournaments and many amateur tournaments might only be 1 to 2 rounds depending on the tournament.  All of the different variations bring different levels of concentration and challenges. The longer the tournament, typically the better chance to identify the best golfer for that week.  A 1 day tournament can be won by a golfer that just gets hot for one day.

Below we will discuss the following:

  • Why 4 Day Golf Tournaments
  • How long is the US Amateur
  • How long are the Majors in Golf
  • Why do the Champions Tour only play 3 rounds
  • Golf Tournament Formats
  • Tips for Viewing Tournaments
  • Length of Amateur Tournaments
  • Related Questions

So, Why does the PGA Tour Play 4 Round Tournaments?

The key here is to identify the best golfer for that week.  The majority of the tournaments will start on a Thursday and typically end on Sunday.  After the two day mark, the field is usually cut in half as the bottom half of golfers are sent home and eliminated from the golf tournaments. 

Overall, the length of the tournaments have grown to 4 rounds to best identify who truly earns the championship.

Another factor is the sponsorships involved in professional golf in today’s game.  Every PGA Tournament has a major sponsor for the tournament. At each tournament, there are hospitality areas where businesses can entertain and wine and dine their customers. 

This is a great social experience and many enjoy just being at the tournament even if they do not move throughout the course. Many of the events have become big corporate events with some very nice settings.  I have been fortunate to be some of these hospitality tents at both Firestone Country Club and Muirfield Village Golf Club.

The food and drinks are great and the air conditioning is even better. The sponsors are spending big money to have the naming rights and to entertain and give back to their customers.

The Thursday and Friday crowds are smaller than the Saturday and Sunday crowds as the course will fill up.  There are also the amount of tickets a tournament can sell which provides 4 days of opportunities to sell tickets.  The excitement at the tournaments are fun to follow, especially when someone like Tiger Woods or Phil MIckelson are in contention. 

Having attended Firestone on many occasions. In 2000, Tiger Woods shot a 61 at Firestone and I happen to be there. The course was roaring as Tiger poured in putt after putt and hit great shots all around the course.  It truly was something special.

Overall, the 4 days setup allows a cut after two rounds and provides opportunities for businesses to host customers and for fans to get out and see their favorite players play.  There is major money at stake as millions of dollars can go to the winners.

The pressure is real and the excitement is even better. With tournaments ending on a Sunday, there is also a major advantage to the television networks and the ability to show golf on a Sunday afternoon, which is a prime spot for sports viewing. 

Fans love watching the pros play or practice!

How Long is the US Amateur

The tournament starts with 312 golfers and after two days of 18 holes the field is reduced to a 64 person field.  From there match play is played until a winner is identified. When the field is reduced to the final two golfers, they play a 36 hole match to determine the winner. 

The top two golfers will play a total of 9 different 18 hole rounds. This is quite impressive and a golfer must stay on the top of their game during the duration of the entire tournament. 

On some of the days multiple matches are held. The golfer must remain strong physically, mentally and emotionally to win the tournament. Match play presents its own little challenges and is fun to watch as a viewer.

How Long are the Majors in Golf

Each of the majors plays a 4 round tournament and consist of 72 holes.  They all start on Thursday and end on Sunday, as long as rain or storms don’t cause major cancellations.  The US Open, when it was a 18 hole playoff if two or more golfers were tied at the end of the 72 holes, used to end on Monday if a playoff was needed. 

The Tiger Woods vs Rocco Mediate finish on Monday of the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines was truly something special and worth going back to watch. The 4 majors in golf include:

  • The Masters
  • THe PGA Championship
  • The US Open
  • The British Open

What are the Majors in Golf: A Brief Overview

Why Does the Champions Tour only play for 3 Days?

With the aging of the golfers and the ability to eliminate cuts, the Champions Tour will only play a 54 hole tournament over the course of 3 days.  It is easier on the golfers and can still identify the best golf that week.

The Champions Tour can be fun to watch as it can bring back some memories of our favorite golfers of the past and still watch them compete. The quality of golf is still very high and they hit some amazing shots.

They just don’t quite hit the ball as far as the PGA Tour guys, but can still hit it very well and make many putts. I attended the 2009 Senior PGA Championship at Canterbury Country Club. The quality of the golf and consistently displayed was excellent!

Golf Tournament Formats

The majority of the professional golf tournaments on the major tours are stroke play events.  However, in recent years there are some match play events. These create a completely different format, but the change in format is usually embraced for at least that week. 

They have found ways to adjust the format to keep golfers around for more than one match by creating pool play before getting into the single elimination portion of the tournament.  Match play is different and doesn’t count total strokes, instead it is a hole by hole competition against an opponent.

To learn more about match play – visit – What is Match Play in Golf

Tips for Viewing Professional Tournaments

There are several different ways to view a professional golf tournament if you are headed to the tournament.  Option one is to pick a group to follow for the entire 18 holes.

This is actually my preference as I enjoy following a group for at least 9 holes and sometimes 18 holes as I enjoy watching the strategy and the overall approach they take to playing the game.  If you can walk quickly and hustle from shot to shot, you can take it all in.

Option 2 is to find a great place where you can see some tee shots on one hole and then approach shots on the previous hole. When you can see two different views it keeps the action coming quick.  I enjoy standing right behind a tee box and watching the pure length of the golfers and how they can work the ball left to right or right to left depending on the shot. We can always watch them putt on tv, but I enjoy watching the longer shots or wedge approach shots.

Option 3 is to find a hospitality tent if you have access. These are set up in various spots throughout the course.  One of my favorites is the hospitality tents on the 16th hole at Firestone Country Club. The super long par 5 leaves a challenging wedge shot over water that players must manage.

You might want to check out one of these chairs, they are highly rated on Amazon:

Length of Amateur Tournaments

Amateur tournaments vary in length from 1 round all the way up to 9 rounds in the USGA US Amateur tournament.  Overall, you will find most amateur tournaments ranging from 1 day tournaments to 3 days tournaments. Many high school state tournaments are 36 total holes whether these are played on 1 day or 2 days.  

You will find local golf matches at high schools to be as short as 9 holes.  Amateur tournaments can be difficult when they are only one day long because if you get off to a slow start, it can be difficult to recover. 

Golfers prefer several day events as most people can be confident that the best golfer will come out on top. Most golfers fear one or two holes when only playing 18 holes in  stroke play events that can ruin the entire day and tournament.

Related Questions

Favorite event you have ever attended?

Even though I have attended a WGC event, the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio and a US Open in Pennsylvania, the best event I have ever attended is a practice round at the Augusta.  It is difficult to explain, but the course is simply extraordinary and the overall atmosphere is simply memorable. It is unlike any other experience the opportunity to walk the course where we have watched golfers play for a long time is special.  

Check out Golf Experiences – Top 25

Any other tournaments on your bucket list?

I would love to attend an Open in Europe.  I think it would be great to fly over to Europe, play some links styles courses and take in an Open.  Also, a Ryder Cup is definitely on the list. The amount of excitement and passion by the fans would be amazing to take in first hand.  The back and forth at a Ryder Cup has reached some interesting levels and it would be pretty neat to be in the middle of it all!

Take Action

If you are someone looking to get better at golf, we have plenty of options.  We have many posts that focus on golf instruction and recommend some of the best teachers that have great online access and resources.. There are many ways to get better and finding the right instructor for you online is a great way to start.  

Here is a list of golf instructors that we have reviewed:

We also have a great amount of information on golf simulators. I built one in my garage several years ago and have now played over 500 rounds of golf on my simulator.  It has helped me improve significantly and my ball striking has never been better. I have been able to put three major combinations together

  • quality online instruction
  • golf simulator access 
  • speed swing training 

I would recommend two options for speed training and they include:

If you decide to go with the SuperSpeed Training System make sure you use discount code Golfjourney365 to save 10%.  

Here are some further resources on golf simulators.  It is worth checking out and you build one for as little as $1000 and go could up to $40,000.  Reasonably, you can set up a quality simulator for 5-7 thousand dollars. Check out our resources here:

Recent Posts