How Long to Play Nine Holes

How Long Should it Take to Play 9 Holes of Golf

Golf is the best sport ever but it’s not a fast one, unfortunately. A round of 18 holes can take anywhere from 4 to 6 hours; luckily, you can always opt to play nine holes instead. 

So, how long to play 9 holes of golf, you might ask? 

It depends on a variety of factors that we’ll cover today.  Let’s get into it… 

How Long it Takes to Play 9 Holes of Golf 

Key Takeaways

  • How long it takes to play 9 or 18 holes of golf depends on multiple factors like course difficulty, weather, time of day, and more.
  • In general, most 9-hole rounds take about two hours. But some golfers can play in as little as an hour, while others might take three hours. 
  • Not to mention you need to factor in commute and practice time before the round too.

Let’s address why rounds of golf can vary so much in length. 

Golf Course 

One of the biggest factors to understanding the time spent on nine holes is the golf course itself. Most public golf courses are about 6,000 yards, relatively flat, with simple green complexes. While others are 7,000+ yards, hilly, and challenging greens that can test your short game. 

Flatter and shorter courses tend to lead to faster rounds. While courses that are longer with a lot of water hazards or blind shots can take significantly longer to play 9 holes. 

If you’re looking for a speedy round of golf to avoid slow play, opt for one with easier course difficulty. Also, don’t forget that executive golf courses are a great option too. These are mostly par 3s, easy to walk, and allow you to get your golf fix quickly.

Plus, executive courses are a good way to introduce new players to golf and get some exercise. Check out the best Sunday bags if you play a 9-hole golf course so you can walk with ease. 

Time (Empty Golf Course vs. Busy Golf Courses)

While the golf course plays a big role in total time to play 9 or 18 holes, so does when you play. The day itself and the time of day can also directly impact how long a round of golf takes.

In general, morning rounds on the weekends are the busiest, slowest days. Since more people are off work the tee sheets are booked on most golf courses.

But if you want to play faster, opt for weekdays and/or afternoons. This is a better time to likely play a lot faster and even have time to practice on the golf course. If possible, try to do this more often as it’s a great way to hit shots on the course that you just can’t do on the driving range. 

Additionally, tournament golf rounds tend to take even longer than casual rounds as well. Since money and prizes are on the line, tournament golf regardless of time can also slow day 9 or 18 holes. 

Walking Golfers

Golf Cart vs. Walking 

Some golfers love putting their cart bag on a buggy and heading out for the day. While others can’t imagine using a cart and choose to walk instead. It’s easy to think that a golf cart speeds up the pace of play but it’s not always the case.

The type of player, the course, and cart path rules can impact how long 9 holes take. For example, if it’s cart path only (winter rules), you might play faster by walking vs. riding in golf carts. But in general, golf carts can help speed up the round.

Players

Another factor in pace of play is the number of players in your group.

Groups are typically made of 3 or 4 players and some courses allow fivesomes – but usually only at country clubs. In fact, a club I was at previously allowed 5–8 players in a group as long as we played in four hours or less. 

Additionally, the type of golfers in your group also contribute to the total time spent on the links. Newer golfers tend to take longer as they hit more shots and don’t understand ready golf as much. While more advanced golfers tend to shoot lower scores and/or understand the pace of play much better. 

How Long does it take to Play 9 Holes

Faster Golf = Better Golf 

From my own personal experience and several studies I’ve read, better golf is a direct result from playing faster. There’s nothing worse than waiting or taking nearly half an hour to play a hole or two.

Here are some of my best tips to help the average golfer play at a better pace and hopefully shoot lower scores. 

Tee it Forward 

One of the biggest reasons slow golf is so common is that golfers play from the wrong tee boxes.

Don’t get me wrong, teeing it back to more challenging tees at times is a good idea. It gets you out of your comfort zone and makes it easy to identify the weaknesses in your game. This can lead to more efficient practice and possibly hitting your golf goals over time.

But playing the more challenging set of tees every time you go out is likely killing the pace of play. So, what tee boxes should you play?

There are a few different strategies:

  • 5 iron test: Take your average 5-iron distance and multiply it by 36 according to Golf.com.
  • Driver distance: If you hit it more than 275 yards, play the tips. If you hit it under 200, play the closest tees and work backward based on total driving distance.

Play Ready Golf

While I love the history of golf, honors golf is another reason that it sometimes takes three hours sometimes to play nine holes of golf. If you don’t know the difference between the two, here’s a quick recap.

Honors golf is when the player from the previous hole who had the lowest score tees off first. Then the next highest score, until the group is teed off.

For approach shots, chips, and putts, the player whose golf ball is furthest from the hole hit, then the next player and so on. It’s common to do this in competitive golf events but not needed for casual Saturday rounds. 

The opposite of this is known as playing ready golf.

Whether you were the lowest or highest score on the last hole, you’re ready to go. This ensures there is no downtime in the group and someone is always hitting to keep a solid pace for the round. 

Make Use of a Pre-Shot Routine

A consistent set of rituals before each shot has a direct impact on your ability to swing with confidence. But too many golfers have a routine that takes forever and/or isn’t efficient. 

For example, one part of a good pre-shot routine is doing your homework; this is analyzing the lie, evaluating the wind, picking a club, and target. Too many golfers wait until it’s their turn to do this analyzing process which can slow down the pace of play.

Instead, do all your prep work while others are hitting so you’re ready to walk into the shot when it’s your turn. This will help you save time and likely stand over the ball with a lot more confidence too. Don’t forget, a pre-shot routine is one of the few things that all elite players have in common. 

Show Up Prepared

To play more efficiently for 9 or 18 holes, show up prepared with a rangefinder and/or golf GPS. If you play a lot of new golf courses, we suggest using a golf GPS watch or handheld device as it provides hole overviews. While rangefinders are great, they don’t give you an aerial overview of the hole. 

But a GPS makes it easy to understand where trouble is, what to avoid, and likely help you swing with more confidence too. Not to mention save time from guessing distances off the 150 yard stake or other course markings. Plus, you won’t lose a golf ball on every hole either as lost golf balls can kill the pace of play.

Best Golf GPS

FAQs

Do you have more questions about pace of play and other best practices? If so, keep reading to learn the most frequently asked questions and answers now. 

How long does it take two people to play 9 holes?

It shouldn’t take more than 75–90 minutes – but that’s assuming you’re on an empty golf course. If you’re a twosome in between groups of 3 or 4 players, it will still usually take two or more hours. But if you want to play with a buddy for a fast nine holes go out in the afternoons after work if possible. 

How many holes can you play in 2 hours?

It depends on the factors mentioned above including – number of players, course conditions, time of day, and more. But I’ve played 18 holes in two hours or less when it’s just me on the golf course in a cart. Other times you might only play 7 or 8 holes on a really slow day with a full tee sheet of golfers. 

Can you play 9 holes in one hour?

Yes, but it doesn’t happen very often unless you’re a single that gets out at the first tee time. Or, if you play in the afternoons on a weekday on many golf courses.  

Can you enter 9 holes for your handicap?

Yes, you don’t have to play a full round of 18 holes for your score to count toward your handicap. 

My Experience

One of the few things I don’t enjoy about golf is how long it takes to play 9 or 18 holes. It’s not easy to take time away from work/family to play 4–6 hours for a full round of golf. But if you need to get out, avoid a busy golf course and play as a single or twosome in the afternoon.

That’s why a lot of people choose an at home simulator as it’s a good way to play faster. They allow you to swing the club from home, scratch the golf itch, and save time. Check out the best at home simulators for your golf game here.

Final Thoughts on Playing Golf Faster

Playing nine holes of golf is a great way to get out for a quicker round and play the game we all love.

A good pace for most golfers is around two hours on an average golf course. But if you play golf at challenging courses with a lost ball one after another, it can take a lot longer.