How long a game of golf takes depends on quite a few things.
But the short answer is about 4 hours. Single players with an open course can take as little as 2 hours and on a difficult course with a full field, up to 6 hours. Read below for more in-depth discussion.
Factors influencing how long a round takes
- How much (Swing Lubricant) you've been drinking
- How many players in the group
- How many players in the groups in front of you
- How many groups in front of you
- Are you driving a golf cart or walking?
- How well/badly you play
- The difficulty of the course
The average time of a golf round is generally about 4.5 hours (4 hours 30 minutes).
But I've done some deeper analysis of the situation below. Keep reading for major insight.
Most golfers think anything over 4.5 hours is too long to play a round of golf. When you find your golf rounds are taking more than that and going past 5 hours, you really want to look at finding new golfing friends.
If the group in front of you are the problem, hit golf balls into them. It does let them know you're very very serious.
How long does a game of golf take?
How much "Swing Lube" have you been drinking?
If you've been drinking consistently from the first tee, expect to hit a few more shots especially putts. If you have a good caddy though, they can tell you where to hit the ball on the greens and you just stroke the ball there as best you can.
Generally drinking helps with driving the ball and working out swing problems. It loosens you up for a good long game. Another positive is you will get a very strong tan without feeling it, until the next day.
I find the short game really suffers. Chips and putts are not nearly as accurate.
On top of that, once you do work out the swing problem, you forget how you worked it out especially if you black out mid-round.
Number of players in the group
- single player: 2 hours 15 minutes
- two-ball: 2 hours 45 minutes
- three-ball: 3 hours 30 minutes
- four-ball: 4 hours
Take off maybe 15 or 30 minutes if using carts and hitting in the same area as each other. Add 30 minutes to an hour if you've been drinking.
Number of players in the groups ahead
- single player: According to the rules, they need to give way to all groups even though they're the fastest.
- two-ball: the most powerful group in a field and have preference and should be let through if playing quicker. >>Don't play like these guys from the movie Sideways <<
- three-ball: if you're stuck behind a three-ball, you're in between a slow and a fast round.
- four-ball: Four-balls can be of two varieties. One which thinks they own the course and one which realizes the guys behind are quicker. Pray for the second option. And hit golf balls into the first. Or call the club house to send a marshal. Either way, always expect a punch up and carry appropriate weapons.
Number of players in the groups ahead
If you're in the middle of a full field, expect to sit behind the group in front of you forever. Relax, take your time and practice your chipping and putting.
Try to hit golf balls into them or scream at them when you're on the par 3 tee boxes. Just as a friendly reminder of who's in control. This always works - not necessarily being let through but believe me, they'll move quicker.
Or leave. There's always the option of packing it in and getting some beers.
Golf cart or walking?
Golf cart golf is very quick if you're a single or in a two-ball. It's usually scoffed at by walking golfers who see you cruising by them in your car. They're just jealous because they didn't think of doing it themselves. Plus there's often a cooler box on the cart so you can keep the beers cold all round long.
Walking is quick but can wreak havoc on your health. Negative side-effects like weight loss, lower cholesterol, reduced risk of diabetes can be expected and if these occur, it's always best to replace lost calories with beer calories.
How good are you at golf?
If you shoot 120, golf will be slower. Unless you pick your ball up after 6 shots and walk the rest of the hole. Then golf is very quick. It's not fun, but it's quick. If you want to break 100 or 90 check out my guide here.
Dealing with slow play in real time
At some point in your golfing career you're going to come across slow play. It's always a challenge to know how to deal with it but here are the general ways I've come across over the last 20 years. They all work to varying degrees and rely mainly on how big your balls are:
- Hit a ball into the group ahead
- Shout profanities at the group ahead when you're within 100 yards or so of the green
- Call the marshal to come speed things along
- Complain endlessly to the other guys in your group and make them tense so they can't play properly
- Walk back to the club house and get drunk
- Get the drinks cart to follow you around and keep you well lubricated to deal with the anguish
- Send a caddy to the caddies in front to tell them to tell their bosses to let you through
- Skip a hole and walk right past the guys in front and take a bogey on the previous hole you skipped
- Laugh really loudly when you see the guys in front make mistakes
- If your playing partners are slow, tell them to pick up their ball, walk faster or walk miles in front of them. Eventually they'll get the message. Then never play golf with them again.
What's the solution?
Ready golf is the only way to play golf
Forget the rules of letting the person furthest from the hole play first. That's what's slowing the game down and almost every group of golfers I play with now play ready golf:
Golf can be quick and golf can be slow. Just find a way to enjoy it and not complain too much because it kills your vibe and makes you play badly as well as your playing partners.
Enjoy the game!