“Time par” is the term given to the length of time allocated to complete each hole, a certain number of holes or the full round. Establishing a pace of play expectation, and communicating that expectation to players, is a common method of trying to improve pace of play. The time par provides a standard by which each group will be judged, and gives an objective guide on whether a group is playing at an appropriate pace.

The time par can be printed on the score card, communicated at the time of booking and starting, etc. Alternatively, and sometimes more effectively, it can be displayed on the course, for example by having a sign after six holes that states “Your group should have taken no longer than 1 hour 15 minutes to reach this point”.

One drawback of having a single time par that applies to a course is that it does not take into account groups of different sizes. If there is a single time par then realistically it has to cater for play in four-balls (assuming four-ball play is permitted on the course). Consequently, it is recommended that time pars are established for two-balls, three-balls and four-balls. This means, for example, if play before a certain time is restricted to two-balls, those two-ball groups will be aware of what is expected of them in terms of time to complete the round.

Establishing a time par for each hole and the round depends on numerous factors, such as the:

  • number of players in the groups
  • length of the holes
  • difficulty of the holes
  • walking distance from green to next tee

There is no set formula for establishing time par. It is a good opportunity for golf course administrators to establish expectations, but it is important that the expectations are realistic. If the time pars are so strict that no one can adhere to them, they will soon become irrelevant.

If, having observed play at a course and determining that generally it is reasonable for a group of four to take 10 minutes to play an average length par 3, 13 minutes to play an average length par 4 and 16 minutes to play an average length par 5, these hole times can form the basis of the time par.

For example, if the course has:

  • Two holes where there is a long walk from the green to the next tee
  • One long par 3
  • One long par 4
  • One long par 5
  • One difficult hole over water

The time par for the course may be calculated as shown below:

Hole Yards Par Time Par Comments
1 390 4 13  
2 525 5 16  
3 353 4 13  
4 150 3 10  
5 432 4 14 Long par 4 adds one minute
6 547 5 16  
7 407 4 13  
8 186 3 11 Long par 3 adds one minute
9 345 4 14 Long walk from 8th tee adds one minute
Out 3335 36 2.00 hours  
10 394 4 14 Difficult par 4 over water adds one minute
11 364 4 14 Long walk from 10th tee adds one minute
12 522 5 16  
13 155 3 10  
14 578 5 17 Long par 5 adds one minute
15 402 4 13  
16 132 3 10  
17 331 4 13  
18 387 4 13  
In 3265 36 2.00 hours  
Total 6600 72 4.00 hours      

Note: This is not a recommended time par for a course with the above par and yardages played by groups of four. It is simply a guide for establishing a time par, and the factors that should be taken into consideration when doing so.