It’s not as obvious as you might think – A round of golf is not like a football or rugby match with a set amount of time on the clock as play commences. Depending on a number of variables, the time taken for a round of golf can vary wildly.
Let’s start with a number then – The average 18-hole round of golf for a four ball on an average course, playing on an average day in the UK takes roughly four hours. It should take more like three hours 30 minutes, but that’s another story.
On a quiet day, if all the players in that four ball are decent golfers and play promptly, they could be round much more quickly, but traffic on the course, lost balls, and lots of shots being hit generally contribute to things slowing up.
A three ball will obviously get round more quickly if not significantly held up – probably something around the three hours 40 minutes mark on average (on an average UK course – that’s important to bear in mind). A two ball might be down to around three hours 20 minutes for an average 18 holes.
There are some obvious factors to consider - On a shorter course, the average round time will be less. On a course where the greens and tees are a long way apart, the round time will be extended. On a difficult course where players take more shots, more time will be taken. Faster greens mean tougher putting, more putting, more time.
The average round time at Carnoustie (one of the country’s most difficult golf courses) is going to be longer than that at a 6,000 yard, parkland, town club.
Three fast players, playing level par golf might get round a relatively difficult course in three hours. Three slow players, playing to 18 handicaps might take four hours 30 minutes to get round the same course.
If playing a nine hole course - playing time should be roughly half that for 18 holes... Oh yes, that makes sense!
How fast can it be done?
According to Guinness World Records, the fastest ever round of golf completed is 11 mins 55.32 seconds and was achieved by Zwartkop Country Club members in Centurion, Gauteng, South Africa, on 31 July 2022. It was a charity fund raising event.
The fastest round by an individual, when the golf ball comes to rest before each new stroke, is 27 min 9 sec by James Carvill at Warrenpoint Golf Course, Co. Down (18 holes, 6154 yards, on 18 June 1987.
In Speedgolf competitions, competitors add their gross score to the time taken to complete the round. The official Guinness record was shot by professional Christopher Smith at the Chicago Speedgolf Classic at Jackson Park Golf Course on October 16, 2005. Smith shot an incredible 65 in just 44:06 while carrying six clubs for a speed golf score of 109:06.
Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?
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