What Is The 90 Degree Rule In Golf?

Rules: for a good game of golf, they are necessary, yet can be frustrating. The 90 degree rule in golf was created in order to protect one of the most important and largest part of the course: the fairway.

Without the 90 degree golf club rule and 90 degree cart rule, the driving of carts can damage the fairway turf, and hold up the perfect game of golf. Therefore, the 90° rule golf expectation is really a mechanism that keeps the fairways on the golf courses at top condition by limiting when the golf carts may ride upon it.

What’s The 90 Degree Rule In Golf?

As stated above, the golf carts must stay off of the fairway at all times when this rule is in place. The only exception allowed by the 90 degree golf cart rule lets a driver onto the fairway, but only at a 90 degree angle from the cart path.

The golf cart path is driven upon in line with your golf ball, a right angle turn is taken as mandated, and the golfer then must drive straight toward the ball from this spot.

golf course cart path 90 degree rule

This rule may be in effect for all or for only some holes in one golf course, especially when the turf grass is soggy and there are wet or muddy areas. An example of a sign sign typically found on a fairway might read:

golf course cart path 90 degree rule

However, not every golf course, club, or country even uses the 90 degree rule. It really comes down to the club you are at and perhaps the conditions on the particular day. Even more particularly, the specific course hole you are at. The 90-Degree Rule (also known as the cart path only rule) is a middle ground that can be used on all or some holes.

At most golf courses golf carts are allowed to go on the golf course often depending on daily turf conditions and weather conditions. The golf cart rules can even change hole-by-hole.  Having your wedge distances accurately known will help you know which clubs to take when walking to your ball.

So at most golf clubs, the rules, depending on conditions, will range from it being OK to drive the cart up and across the fairway directly, to the carts being banned entirely from leaving the cart paths.  And is decided on a daily basis by the local course officials.

The pro shop will let you know when you pay your green fees if there are areas that you need to steer clear of during your round. Mostly they will ask you to use common sense and to follow the warnings posted.

what is the 90 degree rule in golf

Affects on the Golf Course

Cart Damage on Putting Greens

Ideally a golfer keeps their cart 30 feet away from the golfing green at all times. Both electric carts and pull carts. The turf grass is important to allow the game to work, and skidmarks from a cart can greatly affect the mechanisms.

The compaction of soil that results from driving over it changes the efficacy of the green as well.

The greenskeepers cannot possibly keep up with the amount of damage carts on the green causes. It’s always a good practice to preserve the green.

Cart Damage to Fairway

When the golf course ground is too soft, usually from rain.  The golf cart will indeed damage those soft areas.  Leaving deep tire tracks when driving through the soft ground on the fairway grass or wet and muddy areas.

For this reason the 90 degree rule exists, to protect that fairway for other players that day, future players, and allow carts to still be used during the current round.  Many golf courses use this rule to protect their course.

USGA Golf Cart Etiquette

The USGA has provided some golf cart etiquette rules we can all follow to help keep our courses looking pristine.  Now that you understand what the 90 degree rule for golf is, these USGA rules can help you understand further how to use your golf cart and maintain a good looking course.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there exceptions to the cart path only rule?

No, if a golf club has put into affect the cart path only rule, then all carts must remain on the paths at all times. Leaving the path under these circumstances could cause damage to the course.

How long do courses keep the cart path only rule in place?

Course will leave the cart path only rule in place until the soft course has hardened up enough to handle the carts driving on the grass. There is not a consistent time frame for this so it varies from incident to incident and course to course.

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