Why Is Golf 18 Holes? (Answer Explained)

why is golf 18 holes

A round of golf has been 18 holes for as long as you have been playing the game. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why the number 18 was chosen? 

What about 18 holes makes it the perfect amount for a round of golf? Is it the right amount, or are we just used to it?

If you have ever wondered why golf is 18 holes or wanted to have a better understanding of the origins of the game, here is everything you need to know. 

Why Is Golf 18 Holes? 

Two golfers standing on the 18th hole in golf

Golf is 18 holes because the original golf course, St.Andrews, was 22 holes long, and decided it was just too many. The original St.Andrews course had golfers going out in one direction and back in another, similar to why we go “out” for the front nine and “in” for the back nine. 

Golfers were playing these 22 holes for quite some time when they decided to take four of the short holes and combine them with other holes to make the course setup a bit different. The end result was an 18 hole golf course. 

From this point on, other golf courses started to copy what St. Andrews was doing, and golf as we know it became an 18 hole round. 

Are 18 Holes Too Many? 

As you are likely well aware, the pace of play for golfers has been an issue for quite some time. It’s hard at some courses where there are rounds of golf that take six hours; it’s a bit of commitment to make. 

You can even walk up to 10,000 steps in a round of golf!

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There have been lots of debates over the years about setting up three six hole courses as opposed to two nine hole courses. 

This would give golfers that are in a hurry a chance to play golf for an hour but still get some enjoyment. 

Instead of changing the number of holes, more initiatives have been made to help increase the pace of play and make it a bit easier for golfers to get around the course in a short period of time. 

If you ask any golf lover, they will tell you 18 is the perfect amount of golf holes; after all, it’s all we know. 

What Is The 19th Hole? 

Some golf courses will claim to have the 19th hole. However, this is simply a nickname for a bar or restaurant where golfers go after they have completed a round of golf. 

The 19th hole is typically located at the golf course, and many will look out over the 18th green. The 19th hole is where scorecards are tallied, and bets are paid off before golfers leave the course. 

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With many golf courses calling their bar or restaurant the 19th hole, some beginners of the game think there are actually 19 holes on the course. Those that have been around the game a while understand that the 19th hole is just as important as the other 18! 

Is 1 or 18 The Hardest Hole On The Course? 

Every golf hole on the course has a handicap. This is where the USGA rated the course to determine which holes were the most difficult. 

The number one handicap hole on any golf course is the most difficult one; the 18th handicap hole is the easiest to score par on.

However, these holes are not in any particular order. For instance, the 7th Hole could be the hardest, etc. 

Men and women have different handicap ratings for each course as some holes are harder for women golfers than they are for men and vice versa.

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However, even with this handicap rating system for the holes, many players find that either the 1st or the 18th Hole is the hardest on the course. 

1st Hole 

The first Hole of the golf course is difficult because you are likely not warmed up. In addition, many times, several groups are waiting on the first tee box. 

The other golfers waiting and watching you tee off is a bit stressful and can cause some issues with where your first shot lands. 

Golfers must learn to conquer the first tee jitters and develop mental strategies to overcome this fear. 

18th Hole 

The 18th Hole is problematic for two reasons. The first is that you are likely trying to finish with a good score. 

The second is that you are tired. This is why you will see some high numbers on the 18th Hole, and it’s really a shame to waste a great round of golf by having a bad 18th hole. 

One thing that some golfers will do to get over this is play 27 holes a few times. This will increase your stamina and help you stop looking at the 18th Hole as if it is truly the endpoint. 

Instead, think of the 18th Hole as just another part of the round. 

Is Playing 9 or 18 Holes Better? 

There are positives and negatives to both 9 and 18 holes. Most golfers like to get a certain number of 18 hole rounds in a week. 

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However, if time is a factor, playing an afternoon 9 hole round is really beneficial to your game and can help you improve your skills for your next round of golf. 

There is no perfect amount of golf holes as you will need to determine what works best for your schedule, your budget, and your ability as a player. 

Final Thoughts 

As you can see, the reason we play 18 holes of golf is simply that we followed St.Andrews. With the way history has developed and the love we all have for this game, it’s likely a good thing that courses followed what St.Andrews did. 

The game of golf is built around the concept of 18 holes, and it will likely remain this way for as long as we are able to play. Even though some designs for three six hole courses are trying to make it, the end result is still the original 18 holes.

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