90 Degree Rule in Golf (What Is It?) 

90 degree rule in golf

If you play a course where you can take golf carts, chances are you have heard of the 90-degree rule in golf. Many golfers are confused by this rule and worried about having an issue come up from not following it. 

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the 90-degree rule in golf and why we have it. 

What Is 90 Degree Rule Golf? 

The 90-degree rule in golf explains how the golf course would like golfers to approach their ball while riding in a golf cart. 

With the 90-degree rule, you should drive your cart to the location where your golf ball is and then make a turn onto the fairway and head directly to your golf ball. The 90-degree rule ensures that you do not drive directly from the tee box straight to your golf ball. 

Once you hit your golf shot, you will turn the cart back to the path and travel on the path until you get to your next shot. 

Of course, this rule seems a bit simplified because there are other factors, like hazards or your partner’s golf ball, that will impact this rule. 

However, the bottom line is that you will want to only take the cart out on the fairway when it is necessary to do so. 

Why Is There A 90-Degree Cart Rule? 

Now that you understand what it means to use the 90-degree cart rule, you may wonder if this is just another annoying golf restriction. 

Some golfers are frustrated by the 90-degree rule as it is certainly not as convenient, but there are important reasons behind why this rule is in place. 

Not Disturbing All The Grass

One of the main reasons that the 90-degree cart rule is in place is to help give you a better life when on the golf course. 

When golf carts take off down the fairway and create tracks and patterns, they are also flattening the blades of grass. This means that when your ball lands in these spots, it will be a little harder to get it out of the lie. 

Of course, as long as the golf course conditions are not wet and muddy (Yes, you can golf in the rain), this will not be a significant issue, but it’s worth considering and adjusting to. 

No Patterns Created In The Turf 

In addition, golf course superintendents at some golf courses like to make sure that golf cart traffic patterns are not the same. 

Sometimes golfers will pick a spot right after the tee boxes where they can enter the fairway. This spot becomes popular, everyone takes it, and then the grass gets worn down. 

For a superintendent, it’s hard to keep grass alive in these areas, and it creates brown spots or even patches of dirt at the start of every fairway. 

Since all golfers tend to hit the ball different distances from the tee, the 90-degree rule can divert some of this traffic and keep the golf course in better overall condition. 

Do All Golf Courses Have a 90-Degree Rule? 

Golf course maintenance and best practices are interesting. What works at some golf courses does not work at all golf courses. 

Essentially if you are playing a course that asks to follow the 90-degree rule, you must follow it, but it’s not considered the best choice for all courses. 

In fact, some courses want to keep you out of the rough and cart path and in the fairway as much as possible. 

The courses where I play have these “gates” that alert you to when it is ok to turn off of the path and onto the fairway and when you have to leave the fairway. Once you are out between the gates, you can ride the cart wherever you want. 

The great thing about the gate concept is that these can be moved so that grass does not burn out in one specific area. 

However, like anything else, unless all golfers follow the rule, there will still be issues with how the golf course looks and plays. 

What Happens If I Don’t Follow The 90 Degree Cart Rule? 

Some golf courses have a ranger that will come out and tell you to start following the rule. However, for the most part, following rules in golf is something that you do to keep the course in better condition. 

Although you may not care about a perfect lie or a golf course superintendent who works hard to keep the course in shape, you should. 

The 90-degree rule is not hard to follow, and once you get used to it, you won’t know any other way. As an added benefit, you may notice that the golf course you play is in better condition. 

Does It Take Longer To Play With the 90-Degree Cart Rule In Effect? 

The 90-degree cart rule can add a little bit of time to your round. However, it is certainly not as much time as a cart path can only add to a golf round. 

Most of the time, you may find that it’s just a matter of a few minutes. 

However, I still find that walking the golf course (at a decent pace) can be less frustrating and just as fast as following the 90-degree rule. When walking, you can go directly to your ball, and even when you get close to the greens, you can put the cart just on the side of the putting green for extra convenience. 

Final Thoughts 

When you are more informed about why golf courses have the rules they do, you will be more likely to follow them. When you see the benefits of following the 90-degree cart rule, you should have no issues remembering to do it. 

Also, keep in mind that part of playing the game of golf is respecting other players. If you don’t want a lie that is all flattened out by golf carts, do your fair share to stay off the fairway as much as possible. 

Never forget that most golf courses also give you the option to walk!

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