What Does The 90 Degree Rule Mean in Golf?

Not knowing the rules of golf can be intimidating. I’ll never forget my brief panic before my first round of golf when the marshall told me that the 90-degree rule applied on all holes. I didn’t dare to ask him to explain it to me.

Thankfully, the gentleman I was paired with gave me a crash course on the 90-degree rule and how it applies to the cart path.

If you aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of the 90-degree rule in golf, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll tell you all that you need to know in this post.


90 Degree Rule in Golf

The 90-degree rule is one of the basics of golf cart etiquette. It means that a golfer must stay on the paved cart path until he is in line with his golf ball. In other words, the golfer can’t just drive straight from the tee box to the fairway.

After the golfer has appropriately identified the ball, he is free to make a right-angle turn onto the fairway and park close to it. After the golfer hits the shot, he returns to the cart and drives directly back to the cart path.


Why The 90 Degree Rule Exists

The primary purpose of the 90-degree rule is to protect the fairway grass. The fairway is a very sensitive part of the golf course, and it’s difficult for the grounds crew to maintain it constantly. The 90-degree rule keeps the damage caused by golf carts to a minimum by keeping them on the designated path as much as possible.

Golf courses want their patrons to enjoy the convenience of golf carts but not at the expense of tearing up the fairway. Rules like the 90-degree rule are a middle ground for the golfers and the course maintenance staff. By observing the rules, taking good care of the turf, and using common sense, golfers can help keep greens fees to a minimum.


Other Important Golf Cart Rules & Etiquette

Though the 90-degree rule is one of the golf standards, some additional golf cart rules must be observed. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones.

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1. Never Drive Golf Carts up onto Tee Boxes or Greens

Breaking this rule could get you thrown off the course if a marshall sees you. Unless otherwise noted, all golf carts must stay on the designated cart paths when near greens or tee boxes. Both areas cost a lot of time, energy, and money to maintain, so it’s crucial to obey this rule.

2. Keep Golf Carts out of All Bunkers

Again, this may seem like simple common sense, but we must mention it. Carts are not allowed in on even near bunkers. Neglecting this rule could get your cart stuck in the sand.

3. Avoid Sharp Turns and Sudden Stops

While turning at a 90-degree angle is accepted and encouraged, golfers must avoid making sharp, reckless turns when driving golf carts. It’s also wise to avoid sudden stops. Making sharp turns or coming to a sudden stop can result in an injury or cause your golf bag to be slung out of the cart.

4. Don’t Crowd The Next Group

This is more proper etiquette than an official rule, but if the group in front of you is on the tee box, don’t drive up and park right behind them. This is usually considered a rude distraction for whoever is trying to hit their tee shot. Find a tree a few yards behind the tee box to park until the tee box is clear.


Mike Noblin

Mike has been involved with sports for over 30 years. He's been an avid golfer for more than 10 years and is obsessed with watching the Golf Channel and taking notes on a daily basis. He also holds a degree in Sports Psychology.