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Number of Holes in a Golf Course

As a golfer, you must have learned a lot of rules and regulations about golf. But have you ever wondered about the number of holes in a golf course? And why a golf course has 9 or 18 holes as a standard? And how was it first decided? Well, this is where things get interesting because, in this article, I will be covering the origin of golf holes, the standard of a golf course, and some unconventional golf courses in the world. So, let’s begin!

History of the 18-hole round

Number of Holes in a Standard Golf Course 18 in total. There are four holes of par three, 10 holes of par four, and then 4 holes of par 5. This setup was standardized around 1764 when the golf course at St. Andrews changed to an 18-hole course from a 22-hole course.

So, let’s go back in time to the ancient fairways and find out how the golf course evolved over time.

The old golf course at St. Andrew’s was initially a 12-hole course and golfers used to play the 10 holes twice for a round of 22 holes. However, there was often confusion about which hole to play on the green because each green had two holes for the “in” and “out” regions. This problem went away when they begin placing a white flag on the “out” hole and a red flag on the “in” hole. So, it’s clear how those red and white flags came to the golf course.

While everyone believes that 1764 was the year when the 18-hole round emerged but it was only in 1864 that all the 18 individual holes were standardized. After that, the majority of the golf courses followed in the 18-hole format.

a golf course picture

Design standards of the 18-hole golf course by region

A golf course is a structured place consisting of a tee, fairway, and green area. There are also different obstacles like roughs, bunkers, water hazards, and maybe a couple of sand traps.

So, when a golf course is designed there are different international standards kept in mind which include:


A tee is a small, squared object used by golfers to elevate their balls from the ground. They basically place their ball on the Tee and then hit it with the drivers. This way, the ball is a little above the ground, avoiding the grassy surfaces and making it easier to hit.


The first and foremost goal of every golfer at the beginning of the game is to hit the fairway. This is the path that leads from the tee to the green area. If you manage to hit the fairway flawlessly without running into obstacles, it brings you closer to your destination hole and thus, lowers your score.


The green area is very important for a golf course because this is where your ball reaches after each successful shot. Usually, the green zone is pretty smooth and the grass here pushes or pulls the ball towards the center of the hole. The kind “Bermuda grasses” make it easier due to their ability to stay firm and healthy despite the daily use of a number of players.

Green Area of a Golf Course

How are 18-hole courses broken down by their par?

There are basically three types of standard holes on an 18-hole course.

Standard hole par 3

There are four holes on the course which have par 3. These holes have the shortest par and expert golfers complete these holes in three successful shots.

Standard hole par 4

The second highest in par is 10 holes on the course with par 4. These holes are completed in four successful shots.

Standard hole par 5

Next, we have another four holes having par 5. These holes are the most challenging ones among others and they take at least 5 successful shots to complete.

Unconventional golf courses

Traditional golf courses usually consist of 18 holes in total and there is a set of specific clubs and balls to play them. However, it’s very surprising to know that there are other alternative forms of golf courses that offer unique challenges to the players. From par 3 courses to miniature golf and disc golf, these unconventional golf courses are a great option to enjoy golf in a different way.

unconventional Golf Course

Alternative golf course layouts


One type of unconventional golf course is a par 3 course. As obvious from the name, all the holes in this course have par 3 which require three or fewer strokes. This makes it fun and less challenging for amateurs who are looking for a quick round.

Miniature golf:

Another type of unconventional golf course is miniature golf. Miniature golf courses consist of obstacles like tunnels, ramps, and windmills which make the game more recreational, even for experienced golfers.

Disc golf:

Finally, we have disc golf courses where players use different specialized discs. They throw them at a series of baskets and targets. These types of courses are present in parks and other outdoor places to provide a more relaxed and fun environment for kids as well as adults.


The area of a golf course depends on the number of holes and its layout. Typically, an 18-hole golf course ranges from 5000 yards to 7000 in length, but it may vary.

Depending on the number of players, their skill level, and the pace of the play a typical golf round can take between 3 to 5 hours to complete.

A golf course having 9 holes is usually referred to as a “front-nine” or a “back-nine”. The name depends on which holes are being played first. These shorter golf courses are great for beginners and casual players who are there just for a little fun. In addition, these courses are also great for golfers who want to improve their chipping or putting skills without investing a lot of effort.

These 5 Holes are considered as Longest golf holes

  • Hole 13- TPC Colorado USA
  • Hole 15- Penati, Slovakia
  • Hole 12- Meadow Farms Golf Course, USA
  • Hole 7 – Satsuki, Sano, Japan
  • Hole 3- Gunsan country club, South Korea

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