How Many Holes Are In A Golf Course? (Analyzed!)

Last Updated on October 9, 2023 by Alex PT

A standard round of golf consists of 18 holes. However, there are also many 9-hole courses and some that have holes with shared fairways or greens. There are also courses with a non-standard number of holes, such as 12 or 14.

How Many Holes Are In A Golf Course?

A golf course can have varying numbers of holes, but the most common configuration is 18 holes. Here’s a breakdown:

  1. 18-Hole Course: The standard golf course comprises 18 holes, with players completing the course in either 9-hole or 18-hole rounds. These courses are prevalent worldwide and are the standard for professional tournaments.
  2. 9-Hole Course: Some golf courses are designed with just 9 holes. These courses are often smaller, require less time to play, and are suitable for golfers seeking a shorter round or those with time constraints.
  3. 27-Hole and 36-Hole Courses: Some golf courses feature 27 or 36 holes, offering more variety and flexibility. Golfers can play different combinations of 9-hole loops to create unique 18-hole rounds.
  4. Executive and Par-3 Courses: Executive courses typically have 9 holes but can sometimes offer 18 holes. Par-3 courses, as the name suggests, consist of 9 or 18 short holes with shorter distances, ideal for beginners and those working on their short game.
  5. Links and Desert Courses: In regions like Scotland and desert areas, traditional courses can have unique numbers of holes, often 9 or 12, adapting to the natural terrain.
  6. Private and Exclusive Clubs: Private and exclusive golf clubs may have custom-designed courses with varying numbers of holes, catering to the preferences of their members.

Why Does Golf Have 18 Holes?

Why Does Golf Have 18 Holes

The earliest form of golf courses had a different number of holes depending on the region, province, and country. These holes include 5, 7, and only a few had 12 holes respectively.

One set of golfers stood proud amidst all and they were the St. Andrews’ Royal and Ancient Golf Club. They were the first to combine all holes into 18, formulating the 18-hole rule IB 1764. The 18-hole rule states that golf should be played in a round of two with 18 holes. Owing to its status of being the Royal seat of golf, it gained world recognition but took 100 years to become a world standard.

St. Andrews went through a revamp in 1857, here they created two holes, but without the first and return holes. Altogether these still accounted for 18holes but this way golfers going forward did not disturb the game of those returning from the 9th hole.

Outgoing holes are marked by White flags and incoming holes are marked by red.

Most prominent golf clubs had all adopted the 18 holes by 1882. From onward from 1993 all golf tournaments conformed to the 18-hole rules.

The standardized number of holes brought about uniformity to the game of sport and allowed cross-countries and teams around different parts of the world to compete against each other under the same rule.

How Long Are The 18 Holes?

Playing 18 holes requires a minimum of 5 hours and a maximum of 6. However, it could be more especially if the distance between the greens and the tee box of the course is greater. This would also increase the distance of travel per.

The 9-hole round is more time-efficient with a minimum of 2.5 hours and 3.5 hours tops. This provides golfers with ample time to refresh themselves from the stress of the week.

What About 9-Hole Rounds

The 9-hole round is prevalent amidst weekend golfers and players whose intention is to squeeze in a bit of practice between chores.

But recently, as the competition spikes at the workplace, people relish spending 6 hours wrapped to the TV hoping their favorite golfer wins the tournament.

With the current global recession, the golf industry has suffered many setbacks. The continuous shortage of funds has accounted for the difficulty in creating and maintaining golf courses.

More so, it is budget and economy-friendly to cut down golf games from 18 holes to 9.

A lot of professional golfers clown at 9-hole games, name-calling them amateur rounds, but a critical examination of the facts reveals that it’s but a colossal waste of valuable time and resources and presents no future if nobody plays golf.

Other pressing issues of the 18-hole are the safety precautions of the golf courses, which tread the toes of guidelines with safety margins and fairways that are too narrow.

The safest solution is to opt for strong 9-hole golf courses. These 9 holes would require half the real estate and maintenance cost compared to the 18-hole course with sufficient practice area/driving range.

The Standardisation of Golf Courses

The standardization of golf courses refers to the establishment of common norms, rules, and features that ensure consistency and fairness across different golf courses. While golf courses can vary in size, layout, and design, there are certain standards and guidelines followed within the golf industry to provide a consistent playing experience for golfers worldwide. Here are the key aspects of standardization in golf courses:

1. Number of Holes: The most common standard is an 18-hole golf course. This layout includes nine holes on the “front nine” and nine on the “back nine.” However, courses with 9, 27, or 36 holes are also considered standard.

2. Hole Length: Golf courses aim for a balance of hole lengths to provide a variety of challenges. Standard hole lengths are categorized as par-3 (short), par-4 (moderate), and par-5 (long), adding diversity to the course.

3. Par Rating: Each hole on a golf course is assigned a par rating, representing the number of strokes an expert golfer is expected to take to complete the hole. The total par rating for an 18-hole course typically ranges from 70 to 72.

4. Course Rating and Slope Rating: To standardize the difficulty of a golf course, course and slope ratings are determined. The course rating assesses the difficulty for a scratch golfer, while the slope rating indicates the challenge for a bogey golfer. These ratings help golfers understand the course’s difficulty relative to their skill level.

5. Yardage Markers: Golf courses have standardized yardage markers, such as markers on the fairway (150 yards, 100 yards, etc.) and flags on the greens (indicating front, middle, and back pin positions). This assists golfers in estimating distances.

6. Tee Boxes: Golf courses typically have multiple tee boxes, each with its own standard distance and difficulty level. Tee boxes are color-coded to indicate the level of challenge they present (e.g., black for championship tees, white for men’s tees, and red for women’s tees).

7. Hazards and Bunkers: The placement and design of hazards, including water bodies, bunkers, and rough areas, follow specific guidelines to provide strategic challenges for golfers.

8. Greens: Greens are typically maintained to specific standards, including a certain level of smoothness, speed (measured in “stamp”), and consistency. These factors influence putting and playability.

9. Maintenance: Golf courses adhere to maintenance standards for fairways, roughs, and greens. The cutting height of grass, frequency of watering, and use of pesticides are regulated to ensure consistent conditions.

10. Rules of Golf: The Rules of Golf, established by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (R&A) and the United States Golf Association (USGA), provide standardized regulations for play, covering aspects like penalties, player conduct, and equipment.

11. Course Design Principles: Golf course architects follow principles such as balance, variety, and fairness when designing courses to maintain a standard level of playability and challenge.

12. Environmental Stewardship: Modern golf courses often adhere to environmental sustainability standards, conserving water, protecting wildlife, and maintaining the natural ecosystem.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Brought The 18-Hole Rule?

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club. These elicit men to change the rule rules of golf holes. They combined the 5, 7, 11, and 22 into 18 holes. This singular move brought standardization to the game of golf, making it possible for people of different states, provinces, and countries to play until a uniform rule. One set of golfers stood proud amidst all and they were the St. Andrews’ Royal and Ancient Golf Club. 

Are There Other Holes Aside from 18 Hole?

Absolutely Yes! Other holes exist in golf. In ancient times other holes such as 5, 7, 12, and 22 existed but recent standardization has made these holes obsolete leaving just 9 and 18 holes respectively.

Which Is Best For Golf; 18 Hole Or 9 Hole?

Depending on who’s playing and for what purpose. Younger golfers and those who play for leisure prefer the 9 holes whilst those who play professionally prefer the 18 holes. 

Is 9-Holes The Future Of Golf?

Recent research has shown empirically that the wide golf landscape of 18 holes is a waste of resources that the game can’t afford. They have clamored for the 9-hole instead which is cost-effective and offers quicker time to produce a champion. As time progresses the 9 hole is preferable to become more prevalent and hence the future of golf.

Which Is At The Olympics; 18 Hole Or 9 Hole?

Both the 9 and 18 holes are official sports at the Olympics. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics featured both the 9 holes and 18 holes respectively with champions crowned differently. 


We asserted emphatically that the current golf round comprises 18 holes, as most recent golf courses are designed to accommodate this number. Golf holes have evolved over the years from 5, 7, 12, and the standardized 18. 

However, the 9-hole golf is another popular format that is gradually gaining wave even though most people use it as a practice format. There has been a rising awareness about the colossal waste associated with the golf industry and the value of 6 hours an 18-hole game demands.

Where many golfers and fans are advocating for 9-hole rounds and if this persists we might be headed towards shorter and more intensive golf tournaments. Upgrading will increase challenges within 9-hole to the most exciting and maybe rewrite the future of golf.


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