How Long is a Round of Golf: 7 Tips for Faster Play

The game of golf can be one of life’s greatest experiences and journeys.  A sport loved by many people of all ages and from many countries around the world.  Here at golfjourney365, our goal to play golf as frequently as possible and enjoy the outdoors and of course get better. 

We have studied and played the game for the last 30 years now and have learned a lot on the journey to get better and maximize our playing time.

One of the concerns that I will often hear about golf is that it takes too long.  Below we will provide an overview on how long a round of golf should take and then give 7 tips to play faster to ensure the game can be enjoyed by all and to help eliminate the marathon rounds that sometimes occur on weekends at the public golf courses.

Everyone has a responsibility to play golf at a reasonable speed.  Everyone out there has paid quality money and it is up to each individual golfer to do his or her best to play at a pace that is good for most.

Golf is a wonderful game when played at a quality pace.

Table of Contents

  • How Long is a Round of Golf
  • The Problem with Slow Play
  • 7 Tips to Speed up Play
  • Related Questions
  • Take Action

How Long is a Round of Golf?

The expected round of golf for a foursome is 4 to 4.5 hours.  If you are playing in less time than four hours for a foursome, you are playing faster than most.  Once a group starts to hit the 5 hour mark, they are playing really slow and possibly slowing down the rest of the course and ruining the golfing experience for most.  Some rounds at certain courses can take up to 6 rounds. When this happens there are some major issues.

Recently, the length of a round of golf has been discussed in great detail at the PGA Tour level.  Golfers like Bryson DeChambeau have taken some heat because he is known as a slow player and had one particular shot where he took a very long time to finally hit the shot.  The PGA Tour is looking at different options to speed the game up and have the rounds completed in less time.

It remains an issue at the local public golf courses on the weekend. Some rounds can take up to 6 hours and in outings the play is generally very slow.

Don’t ruin others round of golf by taking 6 hours for 18 holes!

The Problem with Slow Play

Over the past decade more players are leaving the game than starting the game of golf.  This causes a potential issue for the golf industry including courses, golf manufactures and those that have tentacles of the business connected with the game of golf. 

The ultimate problem with slow play is that people now live busier and busier lives than ever before. People do not want to play a 6 hour round of golf and take up their entire Saturday or Sunday or struggle to even get 9 holes in after work. 

In addition, the slow play makes the game less fun and 5-6 hour rounds are unnecessary and push people away from the game. Even those that have all of the time in the world do not want to play 6 hour rounds of golf.

Courses struggle when players are taking 6 hours to play as they are able to get less people on the course.  They have to spread their tee times out further and they make less money from green fees. This also impacts food and drink sales if less people are playing at the course. 

As courses struggle, they may exit the golf industry and sell to a developer. The impact on the golf industry is negative. So we have some solutions to help you play faster

7 Tips to Speed Up Play

1 – When Riding in a Cart – Be Smart

If you are sharing a cart with another golfer, drop one person off at their ball and that golfer should grab 2-3 potential clubs.  The other golfer should then get ready to hit and be ready as soon as their playing partner has hit their shot.

As the person with the cart is hitting their shot, their partner can start walking to their cart.  This routine of dropping a golfer off at their ball should be part of the routine for every shot on every hole. You should never just sit there and watch the other person hit and then drive to the next person’s ball.  Be smart and also get some extra exercise.  

Whoever is in the cart should consider what club, such as a putter, than your cart partner might need.  Communicate throughout the hole and be a good cart partner. When the hole is finished make sure to look around for extra clubs laying on the ground and move onto the next tee. 

Do not sit by the last green and write your score down or even put your clubs away. Those can both wait until you get to the next teeing ground. These little actions add up over the course of 18 holes and can make a major difference in the amount of time that it takes to play golf.

Play ready golf on the tee box and throughout the hole!

2 – Buy a GPS Watch

Back in the day, we used to have to find the yardage marker in the middle of the fairway and step off the distance that we had for that shot.  Sometimes this meant walking 20-30 yards forward or backward and then needing to return to our ball to be able to hit. If a course was poorly marked it added additional time to the round of golf.

Our easy solution is that each golfer should have a smart GPA watch that provides the front, middle and back yardage wherever you are standing on the course. 

These watches are fantastic not only from an advantage to play better, but to also make the round faster. Don’t forget as you head from the cart and head to your ball take 2-3 clubs just in case the yardage is a bit longer or shorter than you anticipated.

Once you get to the ball, check your watch, make your decision and get ready to hit.  The game truly can speed up. I have now used one of these GPA watches for the last 4 years, not only can we play faster, but it is great to have the exact yardage to the three different portions of the green. 

With it being a watch, you don’t have to worry about leaving it behind or forgetting it in the cart, it is always with you. They also have great data tracking features that allow you to look back at data such as score, fairways hit, greens hit, putts, etc. that could help you play better.  Here is our top two recommendations on golf GPS watches.

Here is the watch that I am currently using.  The colored screen and great touch response features make it simple to use and a great advantage.  It looks great as well! I would give it a 5 star out of 5 star rating. It also is great for tracking my workouts whether I am running, biking, swimming, lifting weights or doing cardio.

Here is another great options with some more advanced features:

3 – Play Ready Golf

In the game of golf, the person furthest from the hole is supposed to play first.  On the tee shot, the person with the best score from the previous hole has the honors.  I would recommend throwing this out the window and hitting when ready and keeping safety in mind.  Does it really matter if you are 153 and your partner is 155 who plays first. Go ahead and hit the shot.

Keep in mind that saving a minute or two on every holes add up to 18 to 36 minutes of faster play.  This results in everyone enjoying the round of golf that much more. The game can still be enjoyed through ready golf and even if there is some competition going on, ready play can still be utilized.

4 – Don’t Take 15 Minutes at the Turn

One of my pet peeves is when the group ahead of you, goes into the snack shop and takes 15-20 minutes to order their food and beverages and then wants to sit there for 5-10 minutes and eat their food. 

Save this for after the round, there is no problem with eating over the next several holes if you are that hungry. We recommend keeping with granola bars and other options that are easy and not too messy to eat on the course.  Of course, we will grab a hot dog or turkey sandwich as well, but just do it with some time in mind.

5 – Play the Right Tee Box

Let’s face it, playing from 7000 yards might sound fun and challenging and you want to play from the “pro” tees, but the reality is unless you are hitting your driver over 300 yards, 7000 yards is too long. 

Most amateurs with a handicap over 10 should be playing from 6300 yard or less. You might actually learn to enjoy the game and give yourself a better chance of making par. Take into consideration how far you hit the ball and those that are in your group.  It is ok to play from different tee boxes, just be aware of this when assigning cart partners for that day.

The reality is that those extra shots you save also save time and frustration. We want everyone to enjoy the game of golf and playing from the right tee boxes are a great start and something that is decided early on, so be ready when you get to the course and know what tee box is right for you and your playing partners.

Two keys to faster play!

6 – Hit a Provisional Ball

Nothing is worse than having to go back to your last spot where you hit your shot because you have a lost ball or your ball ended up out of bounds. 

Yes, these are the official rules and we would highly encourage you to use the provisional ball rule and make sure you hit a second ball when you fear that your ball might be out of bounds or that you might not be able to find it. 

This little extra time to hit a provisional ball could save 5-10 minutes especially if your group is walking 18 holes. Be smart and think ahead when in these situations.

7 – Don’t Read your Putt from Every Angle and Be Generous with Gimmies in You Group

One those days when the course is packed and the round is slow, don’t be the golfer that reads your putt from every angle.  There is nothing worse than watching someone take 6 shots to get to the green and then as he is putting so save his triple bogey from 4 feet he walks around and checks out every angle on reading the green. 

Give it a glance, pick your line and go. Now if it is a putt for birdie or par, a little more time might be reasonable. Also, be more generous with your playing partners. Do we really need someone to grind out that 2 footer to win one dollar?  Be smart and considerate of the others on the golf course.

Related Questions

How long does it take for a twosome to play golf?

I play a lot of golf in twosomes.  When we walk 18 holes, we play in just under 3 hours.  This is without rushing, but just being mindful of the time that we take up.  If we are riding a cart we can finish in 2.5 hours. The cart definitely helps us play faster, but sometimes we enjoy the exercise from walking and getting in a good workout.

What can courses do to speed up play?

They can have course marshals around to help push groups along and to help find golf balls hit close to the boundary lines or near wooded areas.  They can also have someone out in areas where there are blind tee shots or with groups that aren’t used to the course.  The more courses promote faster play and support it, the better chances it will actually become a reality.

Should we let someone play through?

Yes, please do!  It works out better for both groups.  If you are the slow group you can relieve some of the pressure of someone breathing down your back.  If you are the faster group, you can play through and enjoy the rest of your round. It is a win-win situation for all involved.  Be aware of where the other groups are and do your part to help all involved enjoy their round of golf.

How long does it take to play 36 holes?

There have been times when on a golf trip that our group of 8 golfers played 36 holes in between 6-7 hours.  Quicker golf is a possibility if everyone is on the same page. There are courses around us that promote faster play and those are the courses we want to play at. For some groups that are really slow, it could take 8-12 hours.

Take Action

It is every golfer’s responsibility to play quicker golf.  One way to play quicker golf is to improve your game. We have tons of tips to help you play better golf.  Are you looking for more distance with your driver. We have two great solutions for you!

Check out SuperSpeed Golf and SwingMan Golf.  Both have great reviews from people we know and personally we have used both to improve our swing speed and overall distance.

Use Discount code Golfjourney365 to save 10% at SuperSpeed Golf.

The game becomes that much more fun when you can bomb a straight driver and there is nothing better to reduce your overall score than a higher swing speed.

Don’t forget to pick up your GPS Watch.  Even if slow play is not a worry, it can help your game.

Also make sure you check out our series on getting to the next level. 

We have provided guides on how to break 100, 90, 80 and 70. Check out more below, if interested.

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