The 90-Degree Rule In Golf

Every golfer knows about the 90-degree rule. If you’re just hearing about it for the first time, you may need to spend more time on the tees and greens. Or, you can read about this rule and its details here and become familiar with some golf etiquette.

The 90-degree rule applies to driving golf carts on the course. It means that players can drive carts along the designated path until they’re parallel to the golf ball. In that situation, they can turn and drive to the ball to strike it and continue the game. This rule is important; someone typically warns the players if they don’t follow it.

A cart in the middle of the fairway

What Is the 90-Degree Rule in Golf?

If you know how to make your way around a golf course or drive a golf cart, then you must know about the 90-degree rule. This rule applies to cart drivers and general etiquette. It’s important to abide by this when it’s in effect, as it can sometimes get you kicked out of the course (not that that’s a known outcome, but still).

The 90-degree rule is rather simple: when you drive to the next golf hole, you can use a cart to reach it. However, you must only drive on a designated path and not across the course; once you’re even (parallel) with your golf ball, you can stop and take a 90-degree turn to drive to it.

It’s as simple as that. Courses that enforce this rule usually have signs to emphasize it, but if you don’t see a sign, just assume it’s there. You can also ask the people working there beforehand where you can drive the cart, to know what to do while practicing your handicap.

Why Is It There?

The 90-degree rule keeps the golf course neat – that’s it. For clubs to be able to maintain the greenery and freshness of courses year-round, they have to water the grass and take care of the upkeep costs. If players were to drive around the courses recklessly, they’d be in much worse shape than usual.

If the course is wet, the grass is more prone to damage. It’s also tougher to drive the cart on damp grass, as it can squish and deform the grass. Any client appearing on the course won’t appreciate the appearance of that patch – so the upkeep is necessary.

A cart parked behind a luscious tree

What to Know About This Rule Before Hitting the Greens

As someone who wishes to become a pro golfer, respecting the rules of the game and the course it’s played on is essential. Being humble about your game, especially in the beginning stages, can make you a better golfer all around.

The rule doesn’t have a lot of philosophy behind it – it’s just there to keep the grass from getting damaged. However, respecting it is also part of the game, so here’s what you need to know if your club enforces the 90-degree rule:

  • You’re free to rent a golf cart,
  • Your cart can be driven along any distance as long as it’s on the designated path,
  • If you need to drive on the fairway, make sure your cart is parallel to the ball,
  • When following the 90-degree rule, you don’t have to be accurate within an inch – just ensure you’re almost even with the area you want to drive to,
  • Once you turn onto the fairway, it must be a straight line,
  • Also, you must only turn at a 90-degree angle.

Are There Any Exceptions to the Rule?

Once the 90-degree rule is in power, there are no exceptions. Some courses may not have this formality, so players can steer their carts freely. However, if the rule is there, it’s best to follow it.

Like with many things in life – you get as much as you give. A course designed for players to hone their skills does have staff in charge of the upkeep; however, it’s up to players to be nice and follow etiquette. That makes it easier to finish a match, get more tee times, and work in great conditions.

Three golf carts parked tightly together

How to Drive a Golf Cart When the 90-Degree Rule Is Active

Essentially, there’s not much difference between how you drive the cart with and without the 90-degree rule. After you hit a nice drive, you can’t jump into the cart and dart through the course in the shortest route possible.

Instead, your cart will likely be on the designated path while you play. If you park behind someone else, that just means it’s not your turn on the hole yet.

Hit the accelerator pedal, and drive with a moderate speed, along the designated pathway, to the next hole. When you’re near the area where your ball landed, check where it is. Then, get into the cart and drive until you’re even with the ball. Make a straight angle (a 90-degree) turn and drive to the ball.

Other Golfing Rules and Etiquette

Besides this rule, there are others to follow and abide by; they’re also important as they can speed up your game and provide a clean and fun experience for everyone.

  • Unless it’s a 90-degree turn, no other sharp turns are allowed,
  • Carts should never be driven up to the tee boxes or greens,
  • Never drive your cart near or into a bunker or any other obstacle,
  • Don’t hog time; if you booked a game close to another team’s tee time, be quick and efficient,
  • You don’t need to park directly behind another team’s cart; you can also find a suitable parking area nearby and wait for your turn.

Honoring the 90-Degree Rule Is Easy and Important

It’s easy to follow rules if you have common sense; assuming you do, this one shouldn’t be a problem. Not to be crass, but each sport and recreation center has rules, so a golf course in the open shouldn’t be an exception.

The 90-degree rule keeps the fairways clean, neat, and lush. Every player wishes to hone their skill in a place like that, meaning you’re likely the same. Now that you know more about course rules, grab your wedges and irons and head to the nearest country club.