Golf carts are a primary source of revenue for golf courses, so in most instances when you play in a tournament you will be riding in a golf cart. It’s important that you are aware of golf cart rules and etiquette. When you check-in with the golf course staff, they will let you know the basic rules and safely of cart operation. They are designed for golfer safety as well as to protect the golf course turf (teeing ground, fairway and greens).
If you are a new golfer, you may feel more comfortable having a more experienced golfer drive the cart. The first and MOST IMPORTANT thing to check before driving a cart is to make sure your golf bag is fastened securely to the cart. You don’t want it to fall off – and risk being embarrassed.
When taking a golf cart, the golf staff will let you know if it is “Cart Path Only” (no carts allowed on the course at any time - mainly due to wet fairway conditions). If the conditions require “Cart Path Only,” take several clubs (plus an extra ball in case yours is lost or not playable) to save time from walking back and forth across the fairway and slowing down play. If the course specifies “90 Degrees” (drive your cart along the cart path to the spot of your ball and then make a 90 degree turn onto the course and drive to your ball).
You want to operate a cart with safety in mind. Limit the use to two passengers - don’t try to fit three people in the seat or let someone stand on the back by the golf clubs. Resist the urge to hang legs and feet outside the cart – some golfers have suffered broken ankles and legs from hanging legs and feet outside the cart. Operate the cart safely by observing signs directing you to stay on the cart paths or away from protected nature areas.
The general rule is to keep 30 yards away from greens, approaches and collars. Many courses will have ropes or signs showing when carts are required to return to paths. Additionally, most courses will ask you to stay on the cart path on par 3 holes. You want to use caution when going up or down hills and avoid sharp turns where the tires could damage the turf. Avoid water puddles, water hazards and of course bunkers. Making sharp turns, coming to an abrupt stop or driving too fast can also damage the turf. Cart use could change during the day, depending on weather conditions and may be restricted following a heavy rain.
Many newer carts offer USB outlets to charge a rangefinder or phone. Resist the urge to look at your phone while driving a golf cart – the same “rules of the road” apply to operating a golf cart.
It’s good cart etiquette to park the cart at the rear of the green or wherever allows you the shortest exit when done putting. Avoid the urge to park with two wheels off the cart path – many people leave two wheels on the path and pull off partially into the grass. A good analogy is – would you park your car in a driveway with two wheels in the driveway and two wheels in your yard? Then don’t do that on the golf course – if another cart approaches (maintenance, ranger or beverage cart) they can pull around your cart.
If using a push cart, the same rules apply, but of course, don’t walk with your cart across the green. (Some courses with sand greens will allow push carts to be taken across the green, but generally you should not do this, unless told by golf course staff that it’s allowed.) Some facilities also ask that push carts not get used on the turf between a bunker and green – on the collar and approaches. You also want to leave a push cart at the rear of the green as a courtesy to the group behind you as well as to allow for a quick exit.
Following these established guidelines for golf cart and push cart use will add to your enjoyment on the golf course.