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How Long Does A Golf Tournament Last?

It’s important to know how long a golf tournament lasts, whether you will be playing in your first one or whether you will be watching a favorite player from the sidelines. There is also some variation in the length of regular golf tournaments.

A professional golf tournament lasts for four days. These four days cover four rounds of golf and typically start on Thursday and go on until Sunday. Each tournament day consists of 18 holes, where golfers take approximately 4 hours to complete each day.

There are different types and formats of golf tournaments. The most common is a professional tournament, but there are also amateur tournaments that can be shorter. The duration of the 18 holes per day also varies based on some factors of golf play.

A Golf Tournament. How Long Does A Golf Tournament Last?

How Long Does A Professional Golf Tournament Last?

A PGA (Professional Golf Association) tournament lasts four days. The event also usually starts on a Thursday and ends on Sunday. There are some alternatives to this, where some tournaments begin on Wednesday and last five days, or some events begin and end on different days. But the average is Thursday to Sunday.

In professional golf tournaments, the focus is on stroke play for the duration of the four days. Players play these tournaments over 72 holes, which makes a total of four rounds split into a round of 18 holes every day.

Tee times vary depending on the season. In spring and early fall, tee times start early at 7 am on Thursday and Friday. The tee times carry on until 2 pm, which means that the golfers that tee later finish around 6 pm.

Golf days in a tournament can be very long, up until approximately 11 hours, including all the players. Saturday and Sunday’s last two days of the competition are shorter as players will have later tee times.

By the middle of the tournament, fewer players are participating due to a cut. The cut means that only the top-scoring players will continue on the third and last day of the tournament. The threshold where the players are cut depends on the contest and the golf club’s rules.

Golf tournaments can go on for longer in what is called a playoff. A playoff happens when there is no clear winner by the end of the round on Sunday. There are different kinds of playoffs that players do – another round of 18 holes, sudden-death playoff played hole-by-hole, or 3 to 4 hole average playoffs.

Bad weather, of course, can affect a tournament, and sometimes they can be shortened to just a 3-day event or more typically extended to 5 days if needs be.

I took the below photo from the house on the 16th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Bay Hill, FL, in 2013. My family and I were guests at this legendary golf tournament won by Tiger Woods.

Adverse weather caused the final day to be abandoned, which had to be played on day 5. Yes, you can play golf in the rain, but not in horrendous thunderstorms!

How Long Does A Golf Tournament Last? View from the 16th at Arnold Palmer Invitational, Bay Hill, FL. 2013
Arnold Palmer Invitational, Bay Hill, FL. 2013

How Long Does 18 Holes In A Golf Tournament Last?

An 18 hole round is equivalent to one day of golf in a tournament. It usually takes about 4 hours to complete a round of 18 holes. However, this time is not accurate for every golf player and depends on some aspects of play.

  • Skill level of the players. This counts towards how fast the pace of play will be. Better players will be able to complete the round quicker as they’ll take less shots.
  • Course difficulty. How challenging the course you’re playing can lengthen or shorten the duration of play of an 18 hole round. Often, players are not familiar with courses and are playing on new courses, so it would be more difficult to estimate the total duration of play.
  • Distance between holes. The walking space between the holes contributes to how long it takes to finish the 18 holes. Of course, the pace of walking also plays a role, and some golf clubs put some pressure on players to finish under 4 hours.

In a golf tournament, each hole has an average time the players should spend. For a par three hole, it’s as short as 10 minutes. For a par 4, it is 13 minutes, and for a par 5, it should take around 15 minutes.

The pace of play can be a point of complaint among many golfers, especially at local golf clubs. A group playing too slowly and thus making others wait can be very frustrating.

One of the rules of golf under standards of player conduct states that players should “show consideration to others – for example, by playing at a prompt pace.”

Many players, including myself, like to get into a rhythm and find this can upset their game. This is another example why golf is a mental game. Playing slowly and even quickly is often used as a tactic by some players!

In PGA tournaments, there are some restrictions on the pace of play to ensure that things go smoothly, and of course, the referee can step in and penalize players if needs be.

Golf Tournament

How Long Do Amateur Golf Tournaments Last?

Like other sports, golf tournaments are played at different levels: local, county, national, and international levels. Different types of tournaments are played a few times a year. In a golf academy or school, most of these types of tournaments are played to introduce the players to them.

Amateur golf tournaments are more relaxed than PGA tournaments, as amateur players play golf for fun. In these types of competitions, there is typically no money prize as the players do not qualify for the professional tournaments.

Amateur golf tournaments range from one to three days and include different amounts of rounds depending on the rules and regulations of the specific tournament. A good example is the US Amateur which is played over two days of 18 holes and then followed by match play.

The first two days are stroke play, meaning that each shot counts where all the players compete based on their total scores. During the match play part of the tournament, the players compete against each other based on what holes they have won, lost, or tied.

For the US Amateur competition, players have to qualify and usually need a handicap of 2.4 or lower. Sometimes amateur tournaments can be very short, like one-day tournaments. However, this may not be the best approach as you cannot calculate any average points or player performance based only on a one-day tournament.

Final Thoughts

A professional tournament lasts for four days, typically from a Thursday to a Sunday. These types of tournaments are played over four rounds of golf, each round being an 18 hole course. There are some differences between pro tournaments and other types, such as amateur competitions.

For every 18 holes, players typically take 4 hours to complete it, depending on skill level, course difficulty, and walking pace.

It’s also worth noting that most professional players actually arrive and practice on the course at least a couple of days beforehand. In my opinion, these are the best days to watch.

But why?

Firstly it’s less crowded. Secondly, the professionals practice several different shots at each hole, allowing you to see how they develop their strategies. I’ve been to the Open Championship many times, and I’ve always enjoyed the practice days the most.

Lots of tournaments also have a sponsor’s afternoon. This is where some of the professionals are required to play a round with representatives of the tournament sponsor for their support of the event.

A golf tournament can be a long experience but completely worth it for professional players and golf enthusiasts. Do you want to know what are the biggest golf tournaments? Check out this article, Biggest Golf Tournaments In The World.

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