How long should a round of golf take?

Our esteemed committee has just posted a notice on the board relating to playing time guidelines on the course.

When I first joined the club 12 years ago, I remember being able to get around the course in a little over 3.5 hours as a 3-Ball.

It took no longer than 4 hours for a 4-Ball.

It is quite apparent that we are bending the previous guidelines for the benefit of visiting parties now as the notice clearly sanctions 4.5 hours for a 4-Ball and 3.5 hours for a 3-Ball.

I think, (no, I know), that this is far too long.

I know the course is quite difficult but that should not excuse a slow round.  It is as though they are saying it is OK to hold people up.

What are the guidelines at your courses?

I'm sure that if you were heading for a 4+ hour round at St Andrews Old Course, the marshalls would soon have you off.

well the R&A view of it is;"As a guide, generally two-ball rounds should take no more than 3 hours 10 minutes; three-balls should take no more than 3 hours 30 minutes, and four-balls no more than 3 hours 50 minutes. In fact, shorter round times than these should be the aim of all players, where appropriate"and i find it hard to disagree with that.  I think a lot of problems can be caused by golf clubs trying to cram too many groups out at the same time with only 6 or 7 minute gaps between those teeing off.  Also, of course, there is the more troublesome issue of people having little awareness on the golf course but that can fill up about 100 threads all on its own.Can't agree with you about St Andrews though, I spent about 8 summers working as a caddy at Carnoustie and 4.5 hour rounds were basically accepted as the norm - if you were off in less you were delighted.  It was all too common to be out on the course for 5+ hours, especially when you were in one of the last visitor groups (last time 4pm on a weekday so still off by back of 9 and it is light enough for golf until 11.30pm or so in the middle of summer)

It depends on a lot of factors. Length of course, difficulty, standard of golfer, knowledge of rules, traffic volume etc.I must say that I would not object to a five + hour round at St Andrews or Carnoustie. Its not like you get to play them every day.

Shanker,There is a sign on the 10th tee at my club that says, if you have taken longer than two hours to get here you are playing too slow, or words to that effect. The club have also altered scorecards by adding a time finished box, all competitors are requested to fill this in. The committee can then spot who the regurlar slow players are.

Does it really matter how long anyone takes provided they quickly allow faster players through?

Good point CMB.

We had a group of pr*cks behind us the other week who were shouting at us to hurry up etc. They were never actually on the same hole as us at any point or waiting for us to move. If we were holding them up we would have let them through. No problems.

Ruined the rest of my round that did.

My club just issued a notice about slow play after a very slow medal round recently (more about that to follow). In it the quote something they say is from the R&A which is similar to that piece quoted above, saying for a 4ball to play 18 holes it should take no more than 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Now I'm sorry, I am not a slow player, but i think that 4 hours is reasonable and i struggle to believe that most 4balls would get round a course of any appreciable difficulty in 3 1/2 hours unless they were the only ones on the course, the weather conditions were perfect, they all knew the course well, and they were all single figure handicappers. Throw in the factor of it being a medal and i just can't see it!Back to the first point though - i was in the 3rd group out, and at one point the 3 ball in front of us had lost 2 clear holes on the group in front (within the first 10 holes!). Admittedly the first group were a bunch of vets who are known for playing quickly (why?  I think they regard it as a form of aerobic exercise! sod the score, lets just get round quick!) but the guys in front of us were having a nightmare. By the 10th people were backing up behind us and so we had a stiff word, and they claimed they were being held up...  anyway, they then got a spurt on and by the 18th had caught up the group in front. But the point of that ramble was that my club used to have a rule that on the weekend you had to be sub 21 handicap to go out before 11am. And this rule applied also in medals.  They got rid of that rule 18 months ago (presumably to be more "Open" and "Egalitarian" ) with the result now that you regularly get groups with 24+ handicappers going out early. In medal play this is madness, and inevitably slows down the comp for everyone else. 

Rough rule of thumb for three players in a medal11' per par 313' per par 415' per par 5plus an allowance for extra long walks from green to tee.

Well i played 11 holes late afternoon in a three ball, teeing off at about half four and finishing just before 6. So say an hour and a half for those holes which pace of play on the scorecard being 2 and a quarter hours.I then played at half 6 in a 4 ball and got in at around half 9 that was being held up for the last 6 holes waiting a couple of minutes to play each shot. so three hours where pace of play is around 3 and a half.Pity these times are no where near Saturday Medal  times!P.s The R&A should look at the recommended times for the Pro Tours

It depends a lot on the length of course and how busy it is. It is possible at our club to get round in 3 1/2 hours as a three ball but the course will have to be pretty clear and certainly it won't happen on a medal day. I don't mind 4 hours for a 3 ball medal or 4 ball Stableford comp - a lot longer and it becomes frustrating waiting on tees and my tempo goes. Surprisingly, we normally get  round the senior section Monday stableford (3 ball) in 4 hours max.What I really hate are the guys who rush round and reckon they can complete 18 holes in 2 1/2 hours - they put pressure on other players as much as the really slow players. I belonged to one club, admittedly a short track, where one Saturday group were a nightmare. The bar opened at 11:00 a.m. and they had to be first in, I'm sure that the golf was just an excuse for a Saturday bender away from the wife, as they seemed far more interested  in rushing around, gimmees on every green and barracking groups in front for not getting a move on. 

I agree Taz.I like to have a brisk game of golf but all this speed golf that some want to play is crazy.Personally I play golf for the pleasure and rushing is not pleasurable in my book.

I play the game at a fast pace, not due to some sort of challenge as people have speculated above, but because this is the way I learnt the game.  The teachings were simple enough; keep an eye on your ball, take your time over the shot but move at a healthy pace between shots, use common sense as to when to play, replacing pins, putting down bag etc.Then, sadly, about 6 years ago I got to the age where I had to leave full-time education and become a contributing member of society   .  Of course this also meant no more 3 month summer holidays and weekday golf wasn't as easy to arrange - it meant having to play most of my golf on weekends when the course is slow going and a fair few people show little or no awareness or common sense when out and playing (seriously, can you not clean the grooves and walk at the same time?  Are you that unco-ordinated??).Finally, last year I discovered a simple solution to calm my irritation on the course - a pack of cards in the bag!!!  So simple, yet suddenly the backed up tee's on the long par 3's or the time spent waiting 120 yards back down the fairway as the players in the group in front look at their 35 foot putts from 4 angles before leaving them 12 foot short don't seem so bad.

The course I play at which has introduced these crazy guidelines have also banned GPS which helps speed play up.They have also removed 150 yard markers in an effort to force visitors to purchase the £4.00 Stroke Saver course planner, which by the way is out of date, (they have acknowledged this by including a little piece of paper with the course amendments on).They have stupidly over ordered 20,000 of these planners and can't give them away.So the result is that if you want to know a yardage you have to find a coloured spot in the faiway, (either red, yellow, blue or white) and pace off to your ball.  This inevitably adds time and results in longer rounds.The members, who already know the yardages are suffering because we have to play behind them at certain times.It's not the fault of the visitors, at least not all of the time anyway.  It's the fault of the stupid committee.  I visit other courses and I understand the importance of knowing your way around a strange track.By the way, although we have banned GPS in competitions run by the club, you can still use them in social golf, which means if you are a society or casual visitor feel free.  That is unless it is a Sky Caddie.  They won't let Sky Caddie set foot on the course to map it.Being a member and a Sky Caddie owner, I have actually mapped the greens with facility that you get with SG5, so if I'm out on a non-competitive knock I use it.  I have tried to "publish" this but for some reason it hasn't been put up in the database on the Sky Caddie website.Not being able to use your Sky Caddies socially at our track of course does not stop you using your Laser Rangefinders, (Bushnell), although again, they won't let you use them in club run competition. 

Which is your home course, Shanker?

Can't say for fear of retribution.It's in Wales though!

Can someone explain why it is felt that it is permissable to hold a mothers meeting on the green to mark up cards and discuss how the hole went.  This combined with the inability of some to leave their bag on the side of the green nearest the next tee winds me up every time

An average round will take 3 to 3half hours for a 3 ball 4 hours for a four ball

Shanker - you have made a number of posts over the last cuppla years panning the club that you belong toSo, the obvious question - why the hell are you still there? 

I remember as a junior, my home club in Scotland had a sign up in the clubhouse that readA 2 ball WILL NOT take longer than 3 hoursA 3 ball WILL NOT take longer than 3 hours 15 minsA 4 ball WILL NOT take longer than 3 hours 30 minsThat was in 1973 ishHow things have changed

In my club the Sunday medals are played in fours ! 4.5 hours is common and 5 hours not unusual. All complaints to the Committee, of which there have been many including an AGM discussion, have resulted in no action whatsoever. Apart from players being asked to record their finish times " to see if there really is a problem". As I've posted on another thread, there is no draw and so regular fours like to play a match alongside a medal. I believe that the reason for the fours is to minimise the amount of reserved tee-time for the competition to allow more time for visitors to play the course on Sundays. No-one will admit this , naturally.If there was a practical alternative I'd leave and play elsewhere.

as far as the wifes concerned its 10 hours a round

I have posted before about our comps, which regularly take 5 hours.We are put out in 4 balls in 10 minute gaps.We can't go out in three balls as we can only have the 1st tee until 13:30 and there is usually a field of around 150. 4 Hours 20 is the target time. It is a long course (7100 off whites) with a lot of walking between greens and tees. 4:20 is acceptable.I've joined the private members club down the road so if I want to play a 'quick' round I can roll up there and be done in 3 hours.