How Long Does A Golf Tournament Last?

how long does a golf tournament last from tell me more golf expert perspective

The Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta is the unofficial start of the golf season for many duffers. It’s also when many local courses will start hosting golf tournaments of various types for players to play in. 

Golf tournaments are a lot of fun and a great way to see how you stack up against other golfers. However, they take time to play. Do you want to learn more about golf tournaments and how you can participate in them? Let the Tell Me More Golf team of experts talk about the different types of golf tournaments and how long they last below.

how long does a golf tournament last from tell me more golf expert perspective

How Long Does A Professional Golf Tournament Last

how long does a golf tournament last for the pace of play 18 rounds of golf

A PGA Tour Event Round

A standard round of golf for a PGA tour event is eighteen holes. The opening two rounds of most tournaments are played in threesomes and take around four and a half hours each to complete. The rest of the rounds are played based on the order laid out by the planners and organizers.

The weekend rounds are played in twosomes and typically finished in about four hours and fifteen minutes. A cut often determines the players that will make it into the weekend round. The players will further qualify to get an official check from the tournament according to their respective place of finish.

Players who fall out of position during a round can be put on the clock for slow play. In addition, a one-stroke penalty can be assessed if they do not improve or maintain their position as the competition progresses.     

Most professional tournaments are a minimum of fifty-four holes.

An official PGA tournament, such as the Masters, is four standard rounds of golf, or 72 holes in total, for a minimum of four days. The PGA can shorten a tournament to 54 holes due to weather or other factors, and it is still an official tournament. The LPGA and the PGA Champions Tours often play 54-hole events, with Majors and other higher prestige events lasting 72 holes.  

Match Play Tournaments

Because of their round-robin format, Match-play golf tournaments can take over five days, with advancing players playing over 36 holes in the semifinals and final rounds. A match-play event can be played in around four hours or less as a match does not have to go 18 holes to be decided.

Match-play events can also go into extra holes if players are tied-up after 18 holes. Typically the players will play a sudden-death playoff where the winner of the next hole wins the match. For example, the 1999 WGC Match Play final went 38 holes before Jeff Maggert beat Andrew Magee!

A typical round in a match-play tournament involves two golfers who play head to head instead of others in the field. Instead of trying to post the lowest score, the players will play to win more holes than their fellow competitor. Both golfers will hit their own ball all through the round. After every hole, the scores of the two players are compared. The player who has the lowest score automatically wins that hole. If both scores are identical then no points will be awarded for the hole. 

The winner will be announced during the round once their lead is too high and their opponent is unable to close the gap. In other words, the winner will be declared once the opponent fails to win or tie the match. This is the case even if they were to secure the rest of the holes. Here are two terms you need to know in match play:

  • Gross: In cases where the match is played gross, it means that handicaps won’t be considered and the scores are not to be adjusted on any hole. 
  • Net: When the match-play switches to the NET arrangement, both players’ scores are adjusted at the end of every hole in regards to handicap. Their net scores will be compared in order to decide the winner for a hole.  

The Cut Line

Professional golf tournaments often have a cut line after two rounds of golf. The cut line is usually the top 65 scoring golfers and ties. For instance, in a 6-player tournament, there’s going to be a cut at the end of three rounds.

That cut will qualify the top three players to continue competing, while the bottom three will be sent home. For a player to keep competing, they should be above or have the cut line. Fewer golfers give the golfers a little more time to prepare and play in their weekend rounds. As it gets closer to the end of a professional tournament, the pace of play slows.

In the event that a player qualifies for the tournament, they need to play throughout the work week hours, which are inclusive of Thursday and Friday. 

After 2 rounds, the standard PGA cut line is 65. Once a player completes the rounds at this score or goes higher, they’ve made what’s known as the 54-hole cut. That means that they have the green light to stay and keep competing in the final round. 


Charity tournaments are a lot of fun for amateur golfers to play in. In addition, they can raise a ton of money for local charities in the process. A typical charity golf tournament is a one-day event and 18 holes in length. However, there are some pro-am golf charity tournaments on the professional level that can last from 54 to 72 holes, where scores for the professional and the amateur are combined to decide a winner. The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is a great example of this style of event. 

Because of the number of players that can play in a charity event, it can take some time to finish the round. Charity events with many players can often take five or six hours to complete.

One Day Charity Golf Tournaments

Most amateur charity golf tournaments are one-day, 18-hole events. However, because of the number of golfers that play in these tournaments, they often have a shotgun start. A shotgun start is where golfers all tee off from their designated one designated hole of the 18 instead of everyone teeing off from the first tee in order.  

Captain’s Choice Format

Captain’s Choice is a popular format for charity golf events. All four golfers in a foursome hit their shots in a captain’s choice event. The team captain picks the best shot of the four, and then everyone plays that ball for their next shot. This format can be fun for beginner golfers because even if they hit a poor shot, the chances are one of their teammates will strike a better one, and they can play the better ball. One golfer has to make a putt to end the hole.


Charity golf tournaments often have mini-games on each hole, such as a closest to the pin contest or the longest drive hole. In addition, some par three holes might have sponsorships for a hole in one contest. Players can also buy a “Mulligan” in a raffle ticket or a string length to show how long a gimme putt can be.


How Long Does 18 Holes Of Golf Take 2 Players to Play?

If you have a tee time at the country club with a buddy, as a twosome, you should be able to get around the course in about four hours. Golfers riding in golf carts will typically get around a course faster than those walking.

Some golf courses, especially country clubs, might require either a caddie or a fore-caddie. They are significant assets to use because not only will they carry your clubs. In addition, you can use their knowledge of the layout to help guide you around the course and when you have to putt on the greens.

A threesome should be able to tee off and play a full round of golf in around four hours and 15 minutes.  

A foursome of golfers in golf carts should be able to knock the golf ball around the course and be done in about four and a half hours of play.

Pace of Play

It is essential to know the local rules for your golf course and follow the suggested pace of play. Many golf courses will have you tee off from certain tee boxes depending on your age or golf handicap index. As a beginner golfer, it is essential to remember your pace of play and not slow down the other golfers on the course. A simple rule to remember when playing is to stay close to the group ahead of you and not slow down to the one behind you. No one likes slow play. It’s frustrating for the players playing slowly and for the golfers waiting.

Some like to jump in the cart, rush to find their ball and hit it again. Others want to carry their bags, walk, and enjoy their time on the course. What’s important is that you play the game quickly and use proper golf etiquette. Fill divots, rake the bunkers, and fix your pitch marks on the greens. Ready golf is good on busy days.

How Many Rounds In Golf Tournament By Skill Level

A golf tournament can be as few as one round for a stroke play event and seven rounds for match-play events. High school and college matches are often 18-hole or single-round events and can be a stroke or match-play events.

Most amateur golf events are either one or two-round events depending on their playing format.

Professional golfers on the LPGA and the PGA Champions tour typically play three-round events for most events and four rounds for majors and events with more prestige.

A PGA tournament is four rounds. However, an official tournament can be shortened to three rounds to accommodate weather and other delays.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How does a golf tournament work?

Golf tournaments give amateur golfers what it feels like to play in an official competition against other golfers and go out and play their best golf. There are many different formats for tournaments, so they can bring a lot of variety. Recorded scores are verified, and handicaps are used to determine low gross and low net score winners. In addition, tournament hosts use leaderboards to show golfers their team fared against the competition.

How many hours does a golf tournament take?

Typically, a 9-hole tournament can be played in 2 to 2.5 hours and is an excellent post-work activity. However, due to the number of golfers playing in a round of golf, a charity golf tournament can take five or six hours to complete. Most professional tournaments take between four and five hours per round to complete, or sixteen to twenty hours to get the entire tournament done.

How long is the longest golf tournament?

In modern professional golf, invitational match play championships are the longest tournaments to play. Match-play events take longer because of the number of golfers and the bracket system they use that allows for a round-robin stage.

The way these tournaments work is simple. It involves multiple players (or a single player) playing against different opponents (or a single opponent) in a competitive head-to-head match. To win a hole, you’ll need to complete the hole by having the fewest number of strokes. You can win the game by winning more holes than your competitor has left.

How long does the PGA Tour Season last?

The 2021-2022 PGA Tour season is a year-long, wrap-around season that starts with the Fortinet Championship in August of 2021 and will conclude with the Tour Championship in August of 2022. There will be 48 official events in the 2021-2022 season and three non-official events (no FedEx points or official money). In addition, there are four major golf tournaments: The Masters, the PGA Championship, the US Open, and the Open Championship.

Conclusion: Research by

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Golf is a fantastic game, and golf tournaments provide competition against other golfers to see how you stack up. However, a round of golf takes time to play. It takes four to five hours for a group of average golfers to play 18 holes in normal conditions. 

A round of golf in a PGA event will also take between four and five hours. Due to the number of golfers and the social element, charity golf events can take five and six hours to play a full round. If you don’t have four hours to play a round, think about sneaking out for a quick nine holes, which can have you back home in half of the time.


Patrick Corley Tell Me More Golf Instructor and Coach
Patrick Corley
From a golf scholarship to a Southern California University, to a private golf coaching career and an instructor position at a nonprofit organization, I’m here to help you get better at golf! With my 50+ years of golf experience; I bring you Tell Me More Golf. A golf coaching website that helps your game with instructional golfing content that’s ultimately geared toward making you a better golfer and having more fun!
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