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Tips on Driving a Golf Cart

At most golf courses, you’ll have the option of walking or riding in a cart. Although it’s obviously healthier and, arguably, more enjoyable to walk the course, sometimes the convenience of a golf cart is just too much to pass up.

If you do choose to ride in a cart, let this guide prepare you for the rules and etiquette of carts on a golf course. You’ll take better care of the course, and the greenskeepers will thank you for it.

Safety First

Taking care of the golf course is a big priority when driving a cart, but the bigger one is to take care of yourself (and your passenger). Follow the rules that are posted in the cart, on the course, and on the scorecard to make sure you’re not endangering yourself or anybody else while you drive.

Some basic rules to keep in mind:

  • Don’t drive a golf cart unless you have a driver’s license.
  • Keep your entire body – hands and feet included – inside the cart while it’s moving.
  • Don’t drive over large holes on the course.
  • Don’t take sharp turns at high speeds.
  • Ride the breaks when going downhill.
  • Stay on the cart path whenever possible.

The 90-degree Rule

Most golf courses ask cart drivers to follow what’s known as the 90-degree rule. What that means is:

Instead of driving down the fairways directly to where your ball is, you should use the cart path on the side of the hole until you go the distance of your shot. Then, you can drive across the fairway at a perpendicular (90-degree) angle to your ball. After hitting your shot, drive back to the cart path on that same 90-degree angle.

This limits the amount of grass you have to drive over to get to your golf ball, which saves the course from a lot of damage.

Follow the Signs

Greenskeepers use signs all over the golf course to let cart drivers know where they can and cannot take their wheels. Here are some of the most common no-cart areas you’ll find on a golf course:

  • On or around the greens: Never, ever, ever drive a golf cart on a putting green. To make it even clearer, most golf courses place signs or rope 20 or 30 yards around the green, so you won’t even get close. Keeping your cart off the grass near or on the putting green is a cardinal rule on golf courses.
  • Ground under repair: If there’s a certain part of the course that’s marked off as ground under repair – grass that’s being worked on by the greenskeepers – don’t drive through it.
  • Hazards: Sand bunkers – in the fairway or around the green – are a no-go for golf carts. Same goes for water hazards, obviously, unless your golf cart has been customized to transform into a submarine.
Hot Tip: Leave the Cart, Take the Clubs You Need

It’s important not to drive a cart on or too close to the putting greens. But what if your ball is in the sand on the other side of the green from the cart path, and you don’t know which club you’ll need to use until you see the lie?

This is a tip that your playing partners and the golfers in groups behind yours will appreciate immensely: Park the cart on the path near the next hole’s tee box, and take a handful of clubs you might need with you to your ball. In this particular example, you may want to take a sand wedge, a lob wedge, and your putter for when you’re out of the sand and onto the green.

When you’re done with the hole, don’t forget the clubs you brought along. You’ll bring them back with you to your golf cart, which will already be at the next hole waiting for your return and ready to go.

Driving with Walkers

Sometimes, you’ll be driving a cart in the same group as a golfer who’s decided to walk. It’s very important — for safety and for etiquette — never to drive past the walking player’s golf ball(s).

That may mean you’ll beat them to their ball in the fairway, but you have to wait a bit until they catch up — it’s the right thing to do. Even if you’re not in a cart, it’s never OK to be in front of a golfer hitting a shot, so stay with the ball that’s farthest back.

Pay Attention & Enjoy the Ride

Riding in a cart is a luxury. It saves time, and for some people — who may be unable to walk 18 holes — it allows them to play the sport they love.

But it shouldn’t be abused. When driving or riding in a cart, pay attention to signs, rules, conditions of the grounds, people on the golf course, animals on the golf course, and everything else. If you use common sense and courtesy while driving a cart, you’ll be able to focus 100 percent of your energy to playing your best golf, and having a lot of fun.

Driving a golf cart can save time and energy, but there are responsibilities that come with the keys. This guide offers tips for when you're behind the wheel on a course.
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