The standard is four hours right? We’ve all heard it… a round of golf should take 4 hours, no more. This is the doctrine that most golfers are exposed to early in their experience. We know that all golf courses are not created equal so it would be unfair to claim a universal time standard for the completion of 18 holes. However, the USGA offers a service to facilities that includes professional estimates of the allotted time it should take a golfer to complete your track (even down to per-hole estimates often printed on scorecards).
So what is the average amount of time it actually does take to play 18 holes? A recent NGF national survey of facilities aimed at better understanding pace of play measured the average amount of time to complete 18 holes at 4 hours 17 minutes. Private courses showed a slightly faster pace of play at 4:06 and Public came in at 4:22. About 13% noted that their average pace of play was 4:30 or longer (See line-graph below for more detail). Many would find this data interesting in itself, but it becomes more useful if you can determine when pace of play becomes an issue for your golfers.
NGF surveyed a nationally representative sample of Core golfers to gain greater understanding of the pain point. Approximately 30% feel that the national average of 4:17 is too long, or could create a problem for them.
PACE OF PLAY RELATIVE TO GOLFER PERCEPTION
As the bar graph illustrates, once you get to 4:20 and longer, most Core golfers feel it’s too long.
Not surprisingly, virtually all golfers surveyed feel that as soon as a round gets to five hours, it has taken too long.
NGF also asked Core golfers this question: “Which experience is more annoying to you when you are playing a round of golf, being held up (waiting on the group in front of you on multiple occasions), or being pushed (the group in back of you is continually making you feel rushed)?” Nearly half (48%) said that being held up is more annoying. Conversely, only 10% felt that being pushed was more annoying – the majority of golfers know that they should be getting around a golf course in a reasonable clip with four hours as the standard. Most telling is the fact that essentially none of the golfers surveyed (1%) said that they were not bothered by being either pushed or held up – re-enforcing the importance of pace of play management.