Friday, January 29, 2010

Golf Carts & Cart Paths

Golf cars are a convenience enjoyed by millions of players and a necessity for many golfers with disabilities. However, when they are driven improperly, they can cause serious damage to the course. More important, unsafe operation can lead to accidents and injuries. Here's some information about the use of golf cars and how to use them responsibly.

Interesting facts
• The first golf car was invented in the late 1940s strictly for people with disabilities.
• About two-thirds of all regulation 18-hole rounds are played with golf cars (NGF, 1994).
• Several states now allow golf cars to be registered for "street" usage.
• Since the introduction of golf cars, caddie usage has dropped to only 1 percent of regulation rounds (NGF, 1994).

Safety first
• Golf cars should only be operated from the driver's side.
• Never drive with more than two occupants or allow riders on the back of the car.
• Be sure your passenger is fully seated and check for obstructions before moving.
• Keep your entire body -- particularly your feet -- inside the car when moving.
• Drive slowly through turns and drive straight and slow up and down slopes.
• Be certain to set the brake when coming to a complete stop.
• Use extra care when operating a golf car in reverse, or on hills, wet turf, loose surfaces or rough terrain.
• Remove the key when the golf car is not in use.
• Do not operate a golf car when impaired by alcohol or drugs.
• Golf cars do not provide protection from lightning -- seek appropriate shelter if lightning is present.

Follow the rules
The wear-and-tear of golf car traffic can cause unsightly and expensive damage to the golf course. Tire ruts in soft, wet areas can take weeks to heal. Compaction caused by heavy traffic can also ruin the playing surface. You can help prevent damage by following the course's standard golf car policy and obeying temporary restrictions caused by weather, construction or other factors.

Drive friendly
If you "drive friendly," your use of a golf car won't impede the play of others:
• Park your golf car behind or beside the green -- never in front -- to allow players behind you to hit sooner after you've finished the hole. (You should generally always avoid driving a golf car into the "approach" area 20 to 30 yards in front of the green.)
• Stop your vehicle to avoid distracting a nearby player who is preparing to hit a shot.
• Never drive into yards or neighboring properties.

General tips
• Never drive a golf car through standing water in fairways or any turf areas that are obviously wet.
• Never drive onto a green, collar or tee or any marked hazard.
• Never drive into any area that has been recently seeded or sodded.
• Avoid abrupt stops and sharp turns that cause skidding.
• Spread out wear-and-tear by avoiding compacted areas.
• If golf cars are allowed in the fairway, follow the 90-degree rule: Stay on the path until you come even with your ball, then make a 90-degree turn into the fairway and drive directly to your ball. After your shot, drive directly back to the path.
• Watch for special signage or other markers that direct traffic.
• Avoid driving over sprinkler heads and yardage markers.
• Don't drive cars into out-of-play areas that may be environmentally sensitive (such as wildflower patches, native grass plantings and marshes).
• Golfers with medically certified disabilities may need access to areas not normally open to golf car traffic. Their golf cars are generally marked with a flag to let others know they have special access.
• Avoid pulling off the path near tees and greens.
• Keep all four tires on the path whenever possible. Do not park with tires off the path.