There are so many golf courses around the world but each one is truly unique. They come in all different styles based on the type of ground and setting, but they also come in all different lengths and take up different amounts of land.
You’ll have likely played some golf courses where you’ve had to wait for another group before you tee off or putt out. Even some instances where you have to tee off over greens on other holes just to reach the fairways.
Other courses may have different holes that share a fairway, or even a green, as is the case at the Home of Golf (The Old Course) in St. Andrews.
At my home course, there’s one point in the round where the 1st green, 2nd tee, 15th green, 16th tee and 18th tee are all within an earshot of each other. It can be pretty chaotic on a Saturday afternoon deciding who plays first when there are nearly 200 players on the course!
On the other hand, you can play other golf courses which will spread out over so much land that you feel like you are the only person on the entire course.
Officially there’s no set length or space a golf course needs to take up to be considered a proper golf course, but it can be useful to know the average length and acreage of a course. It should give you some perspective of your golf course or ones you’re looking to play.
How many acres is a golf course?
Well getting right into the thick of things, the average number of acres of a golf course in the UK is 111. For the US this is slightly larger at 150 acres.
In the UK that means the average golf hole takes up around 6 acres of land and that doesn’t include any practice areas or the club house.
For reference, an average housing development will fit four homes into 1 acre, which goes to show how much land a golf course takes up. Golf courses are quite simply big estates of property, which is also why they tend to be so expensive and time consuming to maintain.
What does the land of the average golf course consist of?
With the average golf course taking up so much space, it is only fair to discuss what the golf course really consists of.
Well, the first thing would be the course itself which is by far the widest land area of a golf course.
To be more specific, on average 67% of a golf course is “maintained turf” which includes the fairway, greens, rough, practice areas and generally everywhere else where the grass needs to be kept.
16% of an average golf course is a “non turfgrass landscape” which is really everything besides the grass on the golf course. This means things like the flower beds outside of the pro shop, forests or wooded areas and land of that nature. Again we are talking about the average golf course, so keep that in mind for this next percentage.
The next highest percentage of a golf course acreage consists of water bodies at 7%. This could be a pond before the green or after a tee box, or maybe a stream, some water drainage or wetland area out of the way that the golf course still owns.
I know for my golf course personally there is no water on any of the holes, but the golf club still owns two ponds on the land which they use for watering the course.
Now most golf courses will face other hazards in the form of bunkers. These typically take up 3% of the land and again is probably one that varies considerably from course to course.
Besides the typical parts of the holes themselves, 4% of a golf course’s land is taken up by buildings like the maintenance shed or the restaurant and everything else.
And finally 3% of the landing is simply for parking.
Again this is simply an average breakdown of what the acreage consists of according to the GCSAA, so it will vary for each course.
How long is the average golf course in yards?
We have already hinted at the fact that an average course tends to allocate more than 6 acres per hole in the UK which tends to mean that the golf course is fairly long as well.
Today the average length of a golf course is anywhere between 6,200 yards and 6,800 yards depending on what tees you are playing from.
It may come as no surprise that the length of golf courses has only been increasing over the last century. This increase in course length is mainly caused by the fact that golfers are hitting the balls longer and longer with the technology of golf clubs increasing. Clubs are therefore trying to adapt the courses to the modern era of golf by lengthening them where possible.
What is the average length of a golf course on the PGA Tour?
The average length of a PGA Tour course is 7,200 yards with the longest course being 7,700 yards.
Much like golf courses in general, this has been increasing over the years at a rate of around 9 yards per year, or 100 yards per decade. It is crazy to think that maybe one day soon a golf course will be over 8,000 yards, a feat that has never been seen before.
Going back to the 1950’s, the average PGA Tour course length was closer to 6,750 yards. This yardage is now around the tips length of the average golf course, not on the PGA Tour.
And it’s not just PGA Tour courses that are increasing in distance. To give some more context, the average length of Open Championships courses have increased to 7,300 yards. In fact, 9 of the last 14 Open Championship courses have all measured in over 7,000 yards, up again from around 6,800 yards in the 1950’s.
FAQs about Golf Course size
Below we answered some of the most common questions we face on the size of golf courses.
Approximately 270,000 hectares of English territory is dedicated to golf courses. That equates to a total of 2% of all the land in England for the nearly 2,000 golf courses in the country.