Although the journey to the standard 18-holes golf course has been long and varied, the majority of modern golfers today accept it as the standard without question. Even now, some courses continue to deviate from this widely accepted practice.
Let us begin our journey through the ancient fairways of this beloved sport. We’ll follow the evolution of the course, including the number of holes in golf, to the widely recognized and mostly cherished 18-hole layout that exists today.
Step-by-step guide in Golf Courses and Holes
Golf is a popular outdoor sport that is played on specially designed-courses. A golf course typically consists of 9 or 18 holes, with each hole including a teeing area, fairway, rough, hazards, and a putting green with a hole. The goal of golf is to hit a ball from the tee into each hole on the course in the fewest number of strokes. But have you ever wondered just how many holes there are on a complete golf course? Let’s take a closer look at golf course design and the number of holes.
Standard 18-hole Golf Courses
The standard golf course that is played in professional tournaments and by most recreational golfers consists of 18 holes. This number of holes for a regulation course has been standard since at least the late 19th century. Here are some reasons why 18 holes became the norm:
- 18 holes provided enough distance and variety in shot making for an enjoyable and challenging round of golf. 9 holes was considered too short, while anything over 18 holes could become too lengthy and tiring.
- The 18-hole course could accommodate a large number of golfers at one time. With groups starting at different holes, an 18-hole configuration prevented slow play and traffic jams.
- Championships were typically played over 72 holes (4 rounds of 18 holes). 72 holes provided the ability to definitively crown a champion golfer.
- 18 holes could easily fit the terrain and acreage of typical golf course sites. It optimized land usage compared to fewer or more holes.
So the 18-hole golf course became the standard for both leisure play and professional tournament play. Major championship events like the Masters, U.S. Open, and British Open all take place on 18-hole courses. For over 100 years, golfers have enjoyed the challenge of playing 18 unique holes in one round of golf.
Variations from 18 Holes
While 18 holes are standard, there are some variations from this number that are still common:
9-Hole Golf Courses
A 9-hole golf course has just 9 holes total rather than the full 18. 9-hole courses are good for beginners who are just learning and don’t want to spend 4+ hours playing a full 18. They are also popular with golfers who want to fit in a quick round after work. The main disadvantage is that there is less variety in shots compared to an 18-hole course.
Executive Golf Courses
Executive courses are short courses that are 9 or 18 holes like usual, except shorter in total yardage. This makes them quicker to play for golfers with limited time. They also require less yardage maintenance and land. Executive 9-hole courses are especially popular.
Par-3 Golf Courses
Par-3 golf courses contain holes that are all par 3s rather than the typical mix of par 3s, 4s, and 5s. This allows the course to be compact in distance since par-3 holes are shorter than par-4s and 5s. Par-3 courses can be 9 or 18 holes. They emphasize shot-making skill over distance.
Miniature Golf Courses
Miniature golf is played on novelty courses full of obstacles like loops, ramps, and tunnels. Courses typically have 9 or 18 holes, but can have up to 36 holes. Each hole is short but requires creative putting and maneuvering around obstacles.
Unconventional Golf Hole Counts
While standard golf courses have 18 holes, some unique courses have more or fewer than 18 holes:
12-Hole Golf Courses
Some smaller golf courses contain only 12 holes. This configuration can make course routing and land usage more optimal for a small space, while still providing an enjoyable golf experience. The disadvantage is that a 12-hole course cannot host official tournaments.
15-Hole Golf Courses
A 15-hole golf course was common decades ago but is rare today. A few historic 15-hole courses still exist though like the St. Andrews Old Course, home of The Open Championship. 15 holes allows creative routing but prevents championship play.
27-Hole Golf Courses
Some larger facilities have 27 holes, comprised of three unique 9-hole courses. 27 holes allows more variety and access for golfers, since players can choose which two 9-hole courses to play in one round. However, each 9-hole course sacrifices some design elements compared to a full 18.
What Is Golf’s 19th Hole?
The clubhouse, also known as the 19th hole, is a charming structure tucked away at the beginning of a golf course. It is a haven for golfers, with various amenities such as locker rooms.
Following an exhilarating round of golf, it’s the ideal place for players to unwind and enjoy delectable food and refreshing beverages.
Furthermore, many golf courses go above and beyond by including amenities such as bars, restaurants, and, on occasion, pools within their clubhouses.
At golf tournaments such as the US Senior Open, the 19th hole is sometimes transformed into a festival-like setting.
A golfer takes a bunker shot.
Individuals who join a golf course gain access to the golfing experience as well as these supplementary amenities.
In some cases, the phrase “19th hole” can refer to a playoff between two players who have tied in a competitive game.
In a playoff, the golfers play an additional hole or more to determine the match winner. The additional hole(s) is referred to as the 19th hole.
Is it more common to play 9 or 18 holes?
In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in the popularity of nine-hole rounds of golf in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Surprisingly, 3.47 million tee times were explicitly reserved for nine-hole play in 2020, more than doubling the previous year’s figure of 1.55 million.
This significant increase in nine-hole rounds can be attributed to two major factors that contribute to its popularity.
For starters, there is a growing demand for purpose-built nine-hole courses that cater to golf enthusiasts’ preferences.
Furthermore, the availability of nine-hole courses on traditional 18-hole courses has played a significant role in driving this trend.
It’s worth noting that club members accounted for 51 per cent of total rounds played, with visiting players accounting for the remaining 49 per cent.
How Many Holes Are In Golf: 18 holes Pors and Cons
Comprehensive Experience – Playing 18 holes provides a more comprehensive golf experience, as it covers a full round and allows you to play all of the holes on the course.
Increased Difficulty – Because of the longer duration and the variety of holes and obstacles, an 18-hole round provides a greater challenge.
Socializing and Networking – With more time on the course, there is more opportunity for socializing and networking with other golfers both during and after the round.
Tournament Play – Because most golf tournaments are played over 18 holes, practicing on an 18-hole course is essential if you want to compete or participate in official events.
Time Commitment – Playing 18 holes takes a significant time commitment, which may be difficult for those with demanding schedules.
Higher Cost – When compared to nine holes, playing 18 holes generally entails higher green fees, equipment rentals, and other associated costs.Physical stamina – An 18-hole round requires more physical stamina and endurance, which can be exhausting for some players.
While 18 holes is the standard golf course length, courses can range from as few as 9 holes to over 27 holes. The 18-hole course emerged as an ideal number for challenge, routing, and championship tournaments over 100 years ago. But golfers can still find courses with unconventional numbers of holes at some facilities. No matter the total holes, golfers agree that the joy of the sport comes from navigating each unique hole on the course.
18 holes a regular golf course usually consists of 18 holes, and these holes come in different lengths. There are four short holes (130 to 200 yards), ten average holes (350 to 400 yards), and four long holes (450 to 550 yards).
So, why are there 18 holes in golf? The origins of golf’s 18-hole format can be traced back to 1764, when golfers at St Andrews decided to combine the first four short holes into two, resulting in a total round of 18 holes. Although it still had 10 holes, 8 of which were played twice, it marked the beginning of 18-hole golf.
The number of strokes a player may take on any one hole is not limited by the Rules of Golf. If you need seventeen (17) strokes to hole out (including penalty strokes), your score for that hole is “17”.