When you borrow a golf cart from your local course, there are several things you need to consider before driving away.
In this article, we explain what the 90-degree rule is and introduce you to a range of other tips and best practices in regard to golf cart etiquette on the course.
By the end of this piece, you will have all the information you need before hiring a cart to ensure you maintain a good pace of play throughout your round.
What is the 90-Degree Golf Rule?
Under the ninety-degree golf rule, carts are allowed on the fairway, but they must maintain a ninety-degree angle from the cart path. You’re required to drive up the path until you reach your ball before turning ninety degrees to drive toward the ball.
Then, when you’ve pulled up alongside your ball, you need to face the hole before taking a right turn back toward the path. You should not deviate from this line when you’re playing the course when the ninety-degree golf cart rule is in place.
The rule is designed to protect the golf course when it’s wet, as allowing carts to drive all over the grass is likely to cause unnecessary damage.
While some golf clubs restrict golf carts to paths during times of inclement weather, others permit the ninety-degree rule. So, if you see the ninety-degree rule in operation at your golf course, be sure to abide by it or risk the wrath of the head greenkeeper!
What Other Golf Cart Rules Should I Follow?
While the ninety-degree rule is well known in the world of golf, there are other golf cart rules that you need to abide by, including:
- Do no harm: If you’ve never driven a golf cart before, it can be exciting to get behind the wheel. However, you need to drive responsibly. Reckless driving of golf carts is dangerous to yourself and other players, and it can ruin the cart itself. So, drive carefully and respect the contours of the golf course.
- Keep out the line of other players: While it might seem like an obvious thing to say, you need to keep your cart out of the line of other players at all times.
- The pace of play: It might surprise you to hear that riding a golf course is often slower than walking. This is because lots of players make multiple trips – one to their ball and another to their playing partners. Instead, you should drop your playing partner off so they can prepare for their shot while you’re lining up yours.
- Park behind the green: When you reach the green, park your cart behind the green, close to the next tee. You shouldn’t need to walk back to the other side of the green just to retrieve the cart when you’re done putting.
What is the Golf Cart Scatter Rule?
Like the ninety-degree rule, the scatter rule means that the cart can only leave the path at the beginning of the fairway. There will then be an exit poll indicating when the cart must return to the path.
Again, this is a way of controlling golf cart traffic and prevents carts from driving all over the fairways, particularly when the weather is wet. The scatter rule is also effective when an area of turf is under repair.
When you arrive at the golf course, you will be informed of the cart rules on the day of the game. Whether they’re on paths only, ninety-degree, or under the scatter rule, you need to adhere to the rules stipulated by the club.
What about the Golf Cart Path Rule?
When the golf cart path rule is in operation, it means that you can only ride your golf cart on the designated paths on the course. This rule is imposed when the grass is particularly wet and will suffer significant damage if carts are allowed free reign.
Most golf cart paths run parallel to the hole, from the tee box all the way to the green. When you get to a location close to your golf ball, you will need to park the cart and walk to the location of your ball.
This is the case even if your ball is on the other side of the fairway, and you’re not permitted to drive to the spot on the course where your ball is positioned.
In instances where the golf cart path rule is enforced, it’s often quicker to walk the golf course with a trolley or by carrying your bag.
Is there a Golf Cart Etiquette I Should Know?
Etiquette is a hugely important part of the game of golf, and there are some rules specifically regarding golf carts you need to know:
- Only start driving the cart once your playing partners have finished playing.
- Never drive on the greens, bunkers, or tee boxes.
- Stick to the paths where possible to reduce wear and tear on the course.
- If you’re riding shotgun, don’t wait to be driven to your ball. Hop out and head to your ball when your playing partner has reached their ball.
- Drive responsibly at all times and pay close attention to hazards.
- Take all litter with you at the end of the round.
- If returning an electric cart to the golf course, place it on charge in a parking bay.
While riding a golf cart is meant to be fun, you need to drive responsibly and remember that other people are playing golf at the same time as you.
How Should Your Golf Cart Be Parked at the Hole You Are Playing?
You should park your golf cart adjacent to your ball, facing the green on the hole that you’re playing. When your group makes it to the green, you should always park the cart behind the green and as close to the next tee as possible.
While it might seem like a small thing, the reality is that parking your cart in the right spot throughout your round will enable you to maintain a good pace of play throughout.
Parking in the wrong place and needlessly walking back and forth to your cart will cost you time and will infuriate the group playing behind you!
So, when you pull up to take your shot, make sure your cart is well-positioned and facing the right way. You can then hop in and head to your next shot without delay.
Do Both Golfers Pay for a Cart?
If you’re renting a cart with a playing partner, it’s fair to split the cost. Even if you’re not driving the cart, you’re still benefiting from it and should pay your fair share. This also makes using a cart much more affordable.
At some golf courses in the United States, the cost of cart hire is actually included in the green fees that you pay on arrival. Where this is the case, you should still split the cost of the fees evenly.
If you or a golfing buddy owns a cart and you’re not renting, it’s up to you how you arrange any payments. We would suggest letting your buddy ride shotgun for free, as it seems a little harsh to charge them for a ride!
But ultimately, everyone is different, so you can develop a system that works for you and your playing partners.
Can You Drive a Golf Cart on the Green?
Absolutely not! Few things will infuriate a greenkeeper as much as seeing someone drive a golf cart across the green. So much time and effort go into manicuring the putting surface, and your decision to drive the cart across the green could ruin the green for everyone else.
When you approach the green, skirt past the hole and park the cart as close to the next hole as possible. Then, grab your putter and do the business out on the green before returning to your cart and heading to the next hole.
As we’ve already mentioned, don’t park your cart at the front of the green or next to where your ball is, as this will cost you and your playing partners time as you proceed to the next hole.
While it might seem insignificant at first, parking your cart in the right spot around the green is super important for the pace of play on a golf course, so do your bit for your fellow members and visitors and park your cart correctly at the greenside.
There’s no doubt that hiring a golf cart is a super enjoyable way of playing a round. It also gives you the chance to take the weight off when you’re in between shots.
But as we’ve explored throughout, you need to understand the rules and etiquette associated with using a golf cart, as failing to do so will impact the pace of play on the course.
Whether the ninety-degree rule or paths-only rule is in place, make sure you abide by the instructions and do no harm when you’re riding your cart out on the course.