We pretty much already know the correct answer to the O.P.'s question for any course in the United States that has a USGA Pace Of Play rating. The system has been in place since the early 90s and is based on sound principles. The sad thing is that most courses never had the nerve (or maybe the incentive) to take the steps necessary to bring round times nearer to where they should be. A quick recap:
Pace Ratings are objective measures of how long it “should take” average “bogey” golfers to play eighteen holes on a course that is full of foursomes. The USGA did extensive research and data gathering and created formulae used to calculate the time to play each hole, the hole’s “Time Par.”
Every hole’s Time Par is uniquely created and includes discrete time values to account for each of the following elements:
- Length Time: This is the base time for the hole and is calculated by using the hole’s playing length from the most frequently used tees. Length Time accounts for all of the time to play the game from the tee to flag-in. Note: there are separate Length Time formulae for walking and/or riding and for when carts are restricted to cart paths.
- Obstacle Time: Additional time is allowed for overcoming significant obstacles on each hole. Note: Using the 10 obstacle categories that are rated for each hole when determining the course Slope Rating, additional time is allowed for any obstacle rated as being more difficult than average, except for the obstacle water, which always gets additional time.
- Green to Tee Distance Time: Additional time is also allowed to account for travelling from the center of the green to the center of the tee of the next hole.
- Halfway House Time: The USGA allows four minutes to be added to the Time Par of a hole that has a Halfway House stop between it and the next tee.
By adding the time for each element of each hole we get the Time Par for the hole. So, a Time Par represents the total time it “should take” to go from the tee on one hole to the tee of the next hole – a very convenient unit for tracking and monitoring play. And by adding all of the Time Pars, we get the course Pace Rating. Details of the above, as well as additional information are provided in the “USGA Pace Rating System Manual.”
The co-creator of the Pace Rating system, Bill Yates, went on to make a successful career out of helping golf courses tackle slow play. His clients include some tracks you may have heard of, such as the Old Course at St. Andrews and Pebble Beach. If you read up on Yates (and you should if you're at all interested in the realities of the slow play issue) you will learn some interesting -- and often counterintuitive -- things:
-- Most courses in the US have PoP ratings over 4:00.
-- Golfers' perceptions of the pace of play depend very little on how long it takes to complete the round, but rather on how often/long they have to wait to play shots.
-- The main cause of slow rounds is poor management policies, not poor golfer behavior or ability -- although these are contributing factors. Yates often uses the analogy of a rush-hour traffic jam: Absent an actual accident, would you assert that any one particular car was the cause of the whole slowdown? No, the answer is simply that too many vehicles are trying to use the road at the same time. Six-minute tee intervals practically guarantee six hour rounds.
-- Thick rough slows play far more than any other hazard. Overuse it on your course at your peril.
-- Riding carts neither speed up nor slow down play significantly, unless restricted to cart paths only -- in which case they increase round times by 12 percent, or about half an hour on average.
-- Course design obviously matters on several levels. The very worst course setup, from a pace of play perspective, is an opening par 5 followed by a par 3.
Two really good articles: