How Many Holes Are On a Golf Course? How Are Courses Designed?

showing how many holes in a golf course

Golf is a game loved by many and played for recreation all over the world. You may think that holes will vary depending on where you go, but actually, it is pretty standard what you walk into, and most golf courses will follow the same rules. 

Golf courses are designed with various obstacles. The number of holes varies from 9 to 18, depending on the type of course. Each hole has a par score, and the player who achieves that score after each round wins the game.

What is a Golf Course? 

golf course

A golf course is a place where people can play golf. There are different types of golf courses, including country clubs, municipal or local courses, private courses, and public courses. A golf course is usually located in a park or somewhere else outside of an urban area. It consists of a variety of green areas and hazards such as lakes, ponds, fairways, roughs, bunkers, water traps, sand bunkers, and other features.

The Scottish King James I built the first golf course in 1609. He had it built for his son-in-law, William Compton. Today, there are more than 400 golf courses around the world.

What is the Design of a Golf Course? 

golf course with mini lake

The average length of a standard golf course is about 7,500 yards. This includes all eighteen holes plus any tee boxes or other areas where players take their shots before hitting into the fairway. A typical regulation length golf course contains three sets of tees – one set for men, another for women, and still another for juniors (ages 12-18).

In addition, there will be at least two greens, a driving range, and a practice area.

Are There Different Types of Golf Courses? 

There are different types of golf courses:

Public courses are open to members only and must pay annual fees. These courses are typically longer and more expensive than private courses.

Private courses are not limited by membership rules and can be owned by individuals, corporations, or companies. They often have shorter distances and fewer amenities than public courses. Many private courses offer exclusive access to members through a reservation system.

Semi-private courses are available to nonmembers. Some semi-private courses require memberships or reservations but do also allow walk-ins. Others charge an hourly fee and limit play to a specific period of time.

What are the Different Parts of a Golf Course? 

There are many elements that make up a golf course. These hazards can make the game more challenging, but they can also provide more fun all around.

However, some spaces you will find on a golf course are standard to the game and are not necessarily hazards but spaces to help you play the game. 

Here are some different elements you may see when you visit an 18-hole course or a 9-hole course: 


The grassy area between the teeing ground and the green. Fairways are used for putting and chipping. The fairway is also called the “first cut.”

Hole/Teeing ground

This is where players stand to hit the ball. Teeing grounds are marked with flags or posts. This is where you take your tee shot for the first swing at each hole. 

This is an important space because this is where it all begins. It can set up a good play or a bad one. 

Green Space

The area surrounding the hole where players land their balls. Greens are made out of grass, sod, turf, or artificial surfaces.

Water Hazard

Any body of water on a golf course. Ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers are considered water hazards.


Bunkers are small mounds of dirt that surround the green. Players use these to protect against errant drives and chip shots.


Trees are planted along a golf course to create obstacles for the players. They can provide the players with blind spots that can help hone a golfer’s game. 


This is the part of the golf course that runs alongside the fairway. Roughs provide a challenge for players because they are difficult to control and can cause damage to clothing and shoes. 

Sometimes balls can get lost in the rough. It is a good idea for golfers to steer clear of the rough. 

Sand trap

These are small mounds of sand that line the fairway. Sand traps slow down the speed of the ball so that it rolls back toward the hole instead of flying away from it. 

Putting Surface

The surface where the player places the ball in order to putt. Putting surfaces are usually smooth or slightly bumpy. 

What is a Regulation Golf Course? 

golf hole

A regulation golf course has certain standards that must be met before it is approved as a golf course. There are two types of courses: 18-hole and 9-hole. Both 18-hole and 9-hole courses have a number of holes that are designed for scoring purposes.

An 18-hole golf course is usually between 5,000 and 7,000 yards in length and it will have a total par of 72. A 9-hole course will have a total par of about 27. 

In a regulation golf course, if you are playing an 18-hole course the par for each of the holes will range from 3 to 5. In a 9-hole course, it will typically be a standard of 3. 

Pars in 18-Hole Courses

Most 18-hole golf courses will have 18 different kinds of pars. Each kind of pars is based on how far the player should hit the ball. For example, a short pitch shot requires less distance than a long pitch shot. Some common pars include: 

Par 3

A Par 3 is a hole that is 300-plus yards in length, and many times it is surrounded by bunkers or other obstructions.

Par 3 holes are typically the shortest in a game of golf on a regulation golf course. These will be the easiest shots to make. 

Par 4

A Par 4 is generally a hole that measures 400-plus yards. Usually, the landing area is surrounded by trees or bunkers.

Par 4 is the most common par that you will see in a standard golf game. 

Par 5

A Par 5 is a hole that is measured 500-plus yards. Typically, bunkers are placed near the landing areas.

A Par 5 will typically be the longest hole in a standard game of golf. 

Par 6

A Par 6 is a hole that is 600-plus yards in length. Bunkers are often placed around the landing areas.

Par 6 is very rare and does not occur on most golf courses. They do exist, but an average golfer isn’t going to run into one on a typical course. 

Final Thoughts

Golf is considered to be a sport that is played all over the world. The rules of golf vary depending on what country you are in. However, no matter where you go, the basics of the game stay the same. 

Golf is an excellent way to meet up with friends or hang out with family. Be sure to wear your sunscreen and take some water and snacks. You are likely to be out there for a few hours, whether you play a 9-hole game or an 18-hole game. 

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