Rules Of The Road

Columns - Outside the Ropes

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October 11, 2018

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Golfers can get an awful lot of instruction in the game. How to swing, how to think, how to follow the Rules (hey, just because they CAN get it doesn’t mean they DO). But one critical skill that no one teaches is how to drive a golf cart — or more correct, a golf car.

Put a golfer in a golf cart and he thinks he’s Mario Andretti or Dale Earnhardt Jr. They get just as interested in making donuts as making birdies, and pay little attention to one another let alone the golf course and its maintenance.

I recently read an article that quoted golf course architect Gil Hanse saying that he abhors the use of golf carts and feels strongly that ours is a walking game. While I subscribe to this philosophy —golf is best played and enjoyed on foot — I also understand the revenue opportunities that carts offer and that there really are people who couldn’t play the game without a cart and need to be accommodated.

I’m good with all that. But it still doesn’t explain why otherwise good, smart golfers lose their mind and their manners when they get behind the wheel of a golf cart.

So this is one of those columns that isn’t as much information for you as a message to your golfers. Maybe you want to tear it out and post it in the locker room or elsewhere around your club, or pull out the points below that most fit your situation. Please, be my guest. If we can help stop the scourge of terrible, and dangerous, cart driving on golf courses, we’ll all be better off.

Start with this: No matter where you are, chances are you had a pretty lousy summer in terms of weather. Excessive rain, generally crappy conditions, heat, humidity, torrential storms, even fires … almost no one was spared. Golf courses everywhere had to put up with a lot: Damage, unintentional or not, from golf carts was salt in the wound of a very tough few months.

And while we’re on the subject of carts, here’s something golfers might want to take up with their clubs. Why is it, whether I’m playing by myself or with a friend, we’re both charged the same rate for the cart? Courses should have a “shared rate” that is favorable to players. Not doing so leads to more and more single carts zooming around out there, contributing to all the problems outlined above.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, carts are here to stay. And now they’re being outfitted with music, phone chargers, GPS systems and more. Fine with me — as long as you drive them with care and show respect for other golfers and the course.

Tim Moraghan, principal, ASPIRE Golf (tmoraghan@aspire-golf.com). Follow Tim’s blog, Golf Course Confidential at www.aspire-golf.com/buzz.html or on Twitter @TimMoraghan