What Is an Executive Golf Course?

When You Want a Quicker, Easier Game

Business executives on a golf course
The term 'executive course' derives from the concept of businessmen sneaking in a faster round of golf. Matthias Tunger/The Image Bank/Getty Images

An "executive course" or "executive golf course" is a course that's shorter than a standard golf course in one or more respects. It has a lower par because it's usually comprised of more par-3 holes than are found on a typical golf course.

While executive courses contain more par-3 holes—and might even be made up mostly of par-3s—they can also include one or more par-4 holes and sometimes even a par-5 hole. An 18-hole executive course is typically anywhere from a par-54 to a par-65.

An executive golf course can be a standalone operation, but many of them are part of larger golf clubs or facilities. They're included as quicker, easier options than the regulation course that's also included in the club or facility. Another place golfers sometimes find executives is as part of a practice facility accompanied by a driving range. This type of course is also sometimes called an Executive 9 or an Executive 18.

Shorter Courses Mean Less Time 

It''s all about time. Think like a golfer saying, "I'm short on time Saturday, so let's play the executive course instead of the regular course."

Executive golf courses can be nine holes or 18 holes in length. They're designed to offer a faster golfing experience compared to the time that's generally required to complete a standard 18-hole course. The shorter hole lengths lessen the time required to finish, and if the course is just nine holes, it will obviously take significantly less time to play compared to a standard 18-holer.

Because the majority of holes are short, executive courses are also good options for junior golfers, beginners or anyone else who enjoys golf but struggles with the length—or time requirements—of a standard golf course.

"Executive" Courses vs. "Par-3" Course

Are executive courses and par-3 courses the same thing? They can be, but "executive course" is more of an inclusive term. As its name implies, a par-3 course includes only par-3 holes, but an executive course might be all par-3s or might include some longer holes.

It's like that old saying: All poodles are dogs, but not all dogs are poodles. All par-3 courses can be thought of as belonging to the "executive course" set, but not all executive courses are par-3 courses.

Think of par-3 courses, short courses, and pitch-and-putt courses as sub-sets of executive golf courses.

Why Are They Called Executive Courses?

The term "executive course" comes from the business world. If business people—and specifically business executives—want to get in a quick nine before or after work or maybe even sneak away to the golf course during a long lunch, the odds of doing that successfully are higher on a shorter course that takes less time to play.

The name for these types of golf courses came from that idea. So executive courses are not only popular with beginners, higher-handicappers, juniors and seniors, but they are also popular with golfers who want to get in some holes after work and just barely have time before the sun goes down.