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How long to play 9 holes of golf

20 July 2022

Find out how long it will take you to play 9 holes of golf and all that you should know about it.

How long to play 9 holes of golf

While most of us would love to, many of us don't have the time to play 18 holes of golf when we would like. A great alternative is playing 9 holes, especially if time can be a bit of a problem.

But how long does it take to complete a 9-hole round of golf? In this article, we're going to look at just that, as well as factors that can affect the speed of your play.

How long it takes to play 9 holes of golf (on average)

Depending on your experience, the time it takes to complete 9 holes can vary. Those that are more experienced at playing golf can expect to finish it in 2 hours on most golf courses. Those that are newer to the game can expect to take closer to 3 hours.

It makes playing 9 holes of golf a better option for those that are busy but still want to get their metal on the green without having to commit to a full round of 18 holes. If you enjoy a spot of golf after work in the colder months, 9 holes mean you (hopefully!) won't be out on the course once it starts to get dark.

Factors that influence the speed of a game of golf

There are lots of things that will have an impact on how quickly you can play golf; it's not all about your ability, as we previously mentioned.

If you want to get a quick round of golf organised but have other commitments, think about the following considerations to make your game that bit quicker while not rushing and still having fun.

How many players

While it might sound obvious, it's definitely worth a mention; one of the biggest influences on how you can get through 9 holes depends on your group size. If you have a large group, inevitably it is going to take more time to get around the course.

But who's to say you have to play with a partner or group? If your golf course allows it, and not all do, attempting the course solo will mean you'll finish at an even faster rate.

Skill set

How experienced you are on the golf course will have a huge impact on the pace of play. Beginners tend to find that they'll be looking for awkwardly played golf balls which can really eat into the amount of time you have to play. Searching for a lost ball is seldom fun!

Then there's putting; at times, this can take less experienced golfers multiple attempts to successfully put the golf ball into the hole.

Those that have that extra bit of know-how and expertise can expect to keep a large proportion of their shots on the fairway, so the game can plod along nicely and won't affect the pace of play.

More advanced golfers will also fare better on the putting green, usually only requiring up to 2 shots at the hole, which obviously will save more time.

Standard or ready golf

Whether or not you decide to play standard golf or ready golf is another factor in how long 9 holes will take to play.

If you don't know what ready golf is, here is a brief explanation. In a regular game of golf, whoever is furthest away from the pin takes their shot first. In ready golf, however, whoever is free to take their shot goes next.As you'll have figured, playing ready golf can speed up the pace of play by quite an amount of time, which is why many people in a hurry will elect to play ready golf.

How long to play 9 holes of golf

Walking or riding

Many golfers use the course as part of their exercise routine; after all, there's little better for the cardiovascular system than a good walk. The only downside to this is it takes more time.

Using a golf cart is a great way to save time and, let's admit it, they are great fun to use. While you won't burn anywhere near as many calories as you would when strolling along the course, you will save some precious time by opting to drive.

How busy a golf course is

Busy golf courses will always have a knock-on effect and slow play. If you want to get around the course with ease, don't elect to book a tee time when it's a hot and sunny weekend because chances are, everyone else has had the exact same idea. You'd have much more luck finding a half-empty golf course during the week.

But, if you do decide that the weekend is your only opportunity to show off your skills on the golf course, be prepared to have to wait for some minutes - potentially on every hole - before you can play. Remember though, stay patient; everyone is there to enjoy themselves and have fun, and no one appreciates a kill-joy on a busy golf course.

Course difficulty

The more obstacles in the way, the more time it will take to complete the course, thus extending the pace of play. While it's an often-overlooked factor, the more bunkers and water on any golf course, the more chance of your ball going into them.

When you hit a water hazard, the pace of play slows down somewhat considerably because first the player must ensure that their shot cannot be played by being certain that the golf ball did indeed land in the water. Then they can decide to take a drop close to the water or hit another tee shot to make up for it.

When this happens, it can soon cause delays, and if several members in the group suffer a similar fate, the time lost will quickly mount up to be considerable.

Then there are the bunkers to contend with, which can be more problematic than any water hazard, to say the least.

Getting both in and out of a bunker has its challenges, and raking the bunker - which you should be doing - isn't going to make your play faster. If the bunker is deep, a lot of players will take multiple attempts to get the ball out again. This is especially true when they don't have a good lie.

All this will make it take longer to play 9 holes.

How big the course is

Another factor that will affect the pace of play is the size of your chosen course. Playing golf on a larger course will mean more travelling time between holes as well as potentially more locations for the ball to get lost, depending on how good you are.

Those who play on executive courses, however, where each of the holes is a par 3, can expect to finish a game in as less as an hour at times, depending on their level of play.

Par 3 holes are always shorter than Par 4 or 5 holes, so if you are short of time, consider courses with lots of Par 3s.

The quickest times on average for playing each of these are as follows:

  • Par 3 - 9 minutes

  • Par 4 - 12 minutes

  • Par 5 - 18 minutes

Weather

There's nothing quite like the Great British weather, is there? When our notorious weather gets too bad, i.e. lightning storms, there's the small matter of safety to take into consideration. Therefore, understandably, any sign of lightning will result in a delay.

Any lightning that is accompanied by thunder within 30 seconds is considered a potential risk, and play will be halted for 30 minutes minimum until the bad weather has passed.

A golf game can still continue in the rain, however.

How pace of play is affected by number of players

As we have mentioned, the number of people you are playing 9 holes of golf with will drastically influence how long it takes to complete the course. Let's look into this in a bit more detail.

1 player

A solo player who is equipped with a golf cart and lucky enough to be playing on an empty golf course can complete a 9 hole round of golf in less than 2 hours. When walking, the time will increase by nearly half an hour, depending on the speed they are walking.

2 players

Using a golf cart, 2 players will take around 2 hours and 15 minutes; add another 30 minutes if they are walking. 

4 players

Many golf courses will put golfers into groups of 4 because it's easier and quicker to get more people on the green. This makes the pace of play slower. It can take anywhere between 2 and a half to 3 and a half hours to play 9 holes of golf this way.

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