How Do You Drive a Golf Cart?

Even though it may seem easy, you still need to know some rules on how to drive a golf cart before you step into one. Operating this vehicle is similar to a normal car, with a couple of differences. Also, different traffic rules are implied as well as some of the standard golf etiquette.

So how do you drive a golf cart? You need to insert the key to switch the cart on, and to start the engine, you need to press the gas pedal. Your cart will start going forward unless the lever is set to a reverse setting, then your cart will go backward.

Golfer sitting in the golf cart

A vehicle is operated by the wheel, and there is also a stop pedal, so you can control the speed of the vehicle better. 

What Is an Electric Golf Cart?

An electric golf cart, popularly called a golf buggy, is a vehicle that runs on batteries. These are small vehicles mostly used on golf courses so the golfers can transfer their push carts and themselves across the field. Most vehicles have room for two golfers and their clubs. There are combustion-powered vehicles that run on petrol, but electric ones are most commonly used because their impact on the environment is minimal. 

Aside from their usage in golf, these vehicles are used inside the university campuses or on private property because they are classified under Neighborhood Electric Vehicles. The vehicle can only go on roads with a 35 mph limitation, and to operate one, you need to be older than 14. Here are some other rules and regulations regarding the driving of buggies.

You don’t need a license to drive this vehicle
Depending on the state you are living in, you may need a permit
Unlicensed drivers can operate the buggies on private roads
To drive on public roads, you will need a license
They are not allowed on roads with a speed limit higher than 35 mph
To get access to public roads, your vehicle must be able to go 25 mph

Safety Measures You Need to Take When Driving the Golf Cart

Now that you know some basic rules about driving these vehicles, it is time to learn more about safe driving on the course. Because no matter if you use Golf GPS or Rangefinder, if you want to be safe first, you need to learn how to drive this vehicle in the best possible way. Here are some rules to follow when operating a buggy:

  • Driving at night – Before you even start driving at night, you need to check if your vehicle has the equipment necessary for a night drive, such as brake lights, turn signals, headlights, and reflective devices. If your buggy doesn’t have any of this, reconsider the night drive.
  • When turning, slow down – Even though most buggies can not exceed the 25 mph speed, it is still dangerous to make sharp turns at full speed. So when you are on the curve, press the brake pedal to slow down your vehicle and make a safe turn. It is easy for these vehicles to flip over, so be careful.
  • Use the horn when necessary – Even though it isn’t encouraged on the golf course, it is great to use on the path to warn any pedestrians about the approaching vehicle. It is also great at intersections, where you can warn other drivers you are there.

Golf Carts Etiquettes You Need to Know

So, as we established, buggies are used for the golfers to get from one point to another with ease. However, there are special rules on where you can drive this vehicle on the course and how you are allowed to use it. Here are some of the common rules you need to follow:

  • Cart-path-only rule – This means that you can only drive your vehicle on the parts designed for it and not on the grass when you see this sign.
  • 90-Degree Rule In Effect – This means your vehicle is allowed on the grass but only at 90-degree angles from the cart path. In other words, you need to keep your vehicle on the path until it can be leveled up with your ball at an angle of 90 degrees.
  • Cart path only on specific holes – It can happen that the course designates certain holes to be off-limit. You need to ask about this before you start playing.   
  • No Carts Beyond This Point – This sign is self-explanatory. If you see it, it means you can not drive the vehicle further. It can be in the middle of the field, so be observant of any signs.

How Do You Drive a Golf Cart – Steps You Need to Take

These vehicles are powered by batteries, meaning they don’t operate like regular cars. The first step you need to take is to insert the key into a key slot and turn it to the right. You will not hear the engine when you do this. The key is there like a switch-on for the vehicle – it serves for the vehicle to be on. 

Starting a Golf Cart

Once you have turned the vehicle on and everybody is seated, it is time to start the engine. The engine will start by pressing the right pedal (the gas). Be careful because the pedal is very sensitive, and the acceleration depends on the amount of pressure you put on it. Once you press the pedal, the vehicle will start going forward, and the more pressure you put, the faster you will go. This pedal controls the speed, so if you wish to slow down, you can do it by releasing the pressure.

Reverse Driving and Stopping

So, we have established that the gas pedal on your right side controls the speed of the vehicle. If you wish to stop, you can just remove the foot from the gas pedal, and in time, your vehicle will slow down to the point it is not moving anymore. However, if you need to slow down immediately, there is a stop pedal on your left side you can press as well. This brake pedal stops the vehicle faster, and it also can be used for slowing down while turning on a curve.

If you wish to go in reverse, there is a lever or switch that turns the gear direction. Most of the vehicles only have two directions, R for reverse and F for forward. In some vehicles, you will see a lever on the right side close to the floor, while in some, there is just a switch. All vehicles will beep when they are in reverse, so as soon as you turn the vehicle on, you should hear it.

To drive in reverse, you need to press the gas pedal. The speed backward will not be the same as when you are going forward. And to drive safely in reverse, you need to turn your body by placing your right hand on the passenger seat. You will use the steering wheel to control the direction of your vehicle. 

Woman on the golf course near the cart

What Is a Do No Harm Rule?

As you can see, driving these vehicles is not that simple, but yet again, you can easily learn how to operate them. And even though we have established some basic rules about behavior on the course, probably the most important one is the “Do no harm” rule. That is a general rule on how you should behave while driving these vehicles. Reckless driving can be damaging for the course and people, so when you drive this vehicle, apply the rules you would in normal traffic.  Avoid bunker edges, grassy mounds, tee boxes, and greens in general. If possible, refrain from off-roading as much as you can. This way, you will be safe and respected by the other players. 

Man and woman in the cart

Other Rules to Follow

There are so many rules when it comes to driving the buggies on the course. For instance, it is considered rude to simply leave your vehicle in the middle of the road just to take a shot. Always park your vehicle so it is not in anybody’s way. Another thing to consider is whether someone is playing around you when you go in reverse because a beeping sound can be annoying and distract the players. Still, even if you are a beginner in this game, make sure you get familiar with some of the basic rules on nice behavior on the course. And for those rules you are not familiar with, use common sense or ask about the rules before you take any steps, and there should be no problems. Either way, in time, you will get to know all the rules. Until then, don’t be shy and ask other players.