One of the most commonly asked questions about Golf is how long a typical game should take, and unfortunately for amateurs and beginners this answer may not be as simple as you think.
The duration of a golf game is largely determined by the skill level of those who are playing, and also on what times of the day that game is being played.
The best golfer in the world can beat all 100 amateur players at the same tournament (all other factors being equal), but it should come as no surprise to hear that their games will last longer because of the difficulty level.
What is a golf game
A game of golf is played between two golfers, two teams of two golfers each, or an individual golfer.
A round of golf is defined as the three consecutive holes which are played by a single pair (or group) before they change teeing ground in match play and whose scores on all holes count towards their total number of winning points; a team must complete the same side of the holes before changing sides or teeing ground.
A round of 18 holes is called a full-round and is usually played in about three hours, excluding any breaks.
A game of golf can sometimes take longer if more than two people are playing.
Many courses prevent players from starting a new hole while others still allow it, so the delay caused by waiting for all other groups to finish their current holes is built into the length of an individual round.
In match play this isn't a factor as you should finish a hole before moving to the next hole.
How long does a golf game last
A golf game starts when you hit a tee shot and ends when you hole out your last putt. That's the simple answer.
However, knowing how long a game of golf is going to last can be difficult because there are multiple factors that affect the duration of a round (or "outing").
Day or night
The first factor would be if it is day or night. Because of the sun's position in the sky, it will be brighter during the day than it is at night which means that you can play faster during daylight hours than you can at night.
That being said, daylight golfers also have to come up with a game plan for when it starts to get dark outside because darkness forces them to play slower.
How many people are playing
The second factor that affects the duration of a golf game is how many people are playing in the four or twosomes (teams of two).
The more people you have out on the course, the longer it will take for everyone to finish their round because those on the back nine (the 9 holes located farthest away from the clubhouse) have to wait for those on the front nine (the 9 holes closest to the clubhouse) to finish their round.
Because of this, foursomes will always take longer to complete a round than twosomes because there are more people out on the course at any given time and therefore it takes longer for them to all finish the round.
Difficult of the course
A third factor is how difficult the course is. The more difficult a golf course is, the longer it will take for everyone to play because there are more obstacles (such as trees, etc.) you have to plan around which means that each golfer has to think about their next shot rather than just going ahead and hitting it because there are too many obstacles to shoot from.
Terrain of the course
Finally, you have to take into account the terrain of the course itself . A golf course with a lot of hills will take longer to play than one that is relatively flat.
Because of all these factors, it's difficult to ascertain how long a round (or "outing") is going to take because there are so many different factors that you have to consider.
Therefore, if asked how long a game of golf is going to take by your fellow golfers, it's best to give an estimate instead of a definitive answer.
How long should a game of Golf last?
As a general rule, a foursome should expect to play anywhere from 4-6 hours depending on how many people are in the group and how difficult the course being played. Admittedly, this is a large window of time but there are more than enough factors that can affect how long a game of golf takes for it to be impossible to give an exact answer.
As such, you should tell your fellow golfers that you expect the round will take around 4-6 hours and if they're in a hurry, they should wait until another day to play.
The importance of knowing how long your golf game
The duration of the game can affect the mood, morale and enjoyment during a game of golf for all parties involved. The length of time that a golf game should last is highly subjective, but there are factors to consider when deciding how long your actual round will be.
While you don't want the game to be too short, you also don't want it to last too long because either way everyone get bored and has a bad time. It's better to have a good time for too long than a bad time for not long enough.
The actual length of a round of golf is far more complicated than people think.
There are many factors that come into play when trying to ascertain how long it takes for an entire round of Golf to be played, and while you can make an educated guess as to the amount of time it will take, there's no way you can reliably give an answer without knowing each individual factor you must juggle.
One thing is for sure, however, and that's the fact that a round of golf should not last longer than 6 hours in order to maintain your interest in the game. Any more time than that will likely have adverse effects on every party involved with negative consequences that are best avoided.
Therefore, if you are the one who is hosting or planning an outing with your friends and family then it's best to start early in the day or pick a weekend for golfing instead of weekday so that you can be done before nightfall.
By this point, hopefully you have a good idea as to how long a game of golf should last.
After reading this article, you should be better equipped to answer any questions that your fellow golfers may have concerning the expected length of a golf outing. However, even with everything said here it's still impossible to give an exact estimation of how long the game is going to take due to so many variables in play.