The Etiquetteist: 9 pro moves for handling your golf cart

March 14, 2019

The first rule of cart golf: don’t play cart golf. Seriously.

Unless the course requires it or you’re physically incapable of self-transport, don’t go about your round with your butt parked in a vehicle. That’s like playing soccer on a Segway. Or something. If you want to drive a buggy, ride the bumper-cars.

But let’s assume it’s too late. Here are 9 ways you can make amends for your breach.

1. Keep up the Pace

Cart golf is the enemy of ready golf, and ready golf is the antidote to slow play. Like a Boy Scout, be prepared. Never leave your cart to check a lie or a distance without having a few clubs in your hand. Also: never be a seated spectator. If your partner plays a shot, and you watched it from the cart, you are out of position, and playing…too…slowly.

2. Proceed with Caution

Playing quickly does not mean driving fast. You are not Danica Patrick. You are a golfer at the wheel of a top-heavy vehicle that is not equipped with seat belts, airbags or automatic braking, and is not designed for high-speeds or hairpin turns. Drive with care, especially on slopes and sharp turns. Everything else can be lickety-split.

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3. Mind the Signs

Messages like “no carts” and “90-degrees only” mean exactly what they say, and they’re usually posted for a reason. Sometimes they mean it’s dangerous for you to drive there. More often, it means that driving there is bad for the turf. Tee boxes are a no-go. Ditto bunker edges, run-up to the greens and, of course, the greens themselves, no matter what you’ve seen Donald Trump do.

4. Help a Partner Out

There’s a driver and a passenger, but those roles aren’t etched in stone. If your partner at the wheel has to walk ahead to play a shot, switch seats and pull the cart around. Don’t be the guy or gal who leaves all the driving to someone else. Unless you’re on your third Bloody.

MORE: 7 of the most tricked-out, expensive golf carts you can buy

5. Stay out of the Line of Fire

The odds of getting struck by a golf ball are slim. But slim isn’t none. Don’t make injury more likely than it needs to be.

6. Park Smart

A lot of thought goes into course design, right down to the way that cart paths wind around a green. The most sensible place to park is very often marked. And even when it’s not, the location is pretty common sensical. It’s a minor gesture, but it goes a long way toward keeping up the pace of play.

7. Don’t Trash the Place

Empty cups and cans. Napkins. Candy wrappers. Golf carts have a way of becoming rolling dumpsters, and litter has a way of flying from them. The solution is simple: keep the cup holders and the wells around you clean.

8. Don’t Park in the Middle of the Path

This is Cart Etiquette 101, but pull to the side when parking your chariot, so carts coming the other way have room to zip by.

9. Minimize the Quick-Starts and the Brusharoos

One of the 20th-century’s towering works of golf literature is “Leslie Nielsen’s Stupid Little Golf Book,” which includes helpful tips on how to irritate the passenger in your cart. The quick-start is when you unsettle your partner by pressing the accelerator just as they’re settling in their seat. The brusharoo is when you drive so close to the edge of vegetation that they endure a battering from leaves and branches. Both are funny, but only until someone loses an eye. Or their temper.