Beginner's Luck – No. 11
Playing with a Power Cart – ‘When do you fix the tire on a golf cart? When there’s a hole in one’

We are four women who are new to the game of golf. We connected through the game, and have become friends because of it. We love the game, and want to share our experiences in finding our way, and encourage and empower other beginners to take it on and seize every opportunity for joy in it.

In the driver’s seat on the golf course are Stephanie, Kristina, Macarena and Johanna (left to right).

The joys of walking a golf course cannot be overestimated. But there are times when riding a cart is itself part of the journey and a necessity of the game – whether it is because it is too hot, too rainy, too hilly, too far between greens and the next tees, a shotgun start, etc. And, also, riding a cart plays a vital role in keeping the game accessible and playable for players well into old age – indeed, golf is one of the few sports that enables this, without compromising the overall enjoyment of the game.

Here are a few of our experiences, in hitting the road (uh, we mean cart path) on the way to a riding round of golf.

Kristina (@k_love_90 on TikTok): To do well in golf, you’ve got to make good choices. Pick the right club for a shot, aim for the right target, and use your resources like energy, attention and time wisely. And sometimes it’s just smart to use a power cart rather than push or carry your golf bag. I generally resist the power cart and have walked some huge hills with long distance between holes pushing a heavy golf bag…to my disadvantage. Those days were examples of “not so smart” choices. A few days ago, a friend of mine suggested we split a golf cart for a round where the weather forecast was for temperatures in the mid-90s. At first, I thought, “uuuuuuuggggghhhhh, a golf cart,” but then I wised up and realized she was on to something. It was hot, play was a little slow and we had this portable “bench” golf cart to enjoy along the way. We had a shade from the cart roof, we got a ton of exercise walking to our respective shots and had lots of fun winding around the golf course on four wheels. What’s more, we were ready to play the next day pushing our beloved carts when it was cooler. Using a power cart won’t be my first choice, but it’s a fantastic option when the situation and terrain are a fit for making the convenience of a power cart the right choice.

Stephanie (@coldinseattle on TikTok): In my first year of play, I was in a new member “welcome meeting” via Zoom. When it came time for questions, I asked:  Do we use carts during the round? The answer was simple and direct: Yes. In my mind, that meant power golf carts. When it came to the first day of play, I realized everyone had push carts. Good grief! Walking the course, I thought “No way!” I wanted to drive a golf cart but I decided to fit in and rent a push cart that first day. Wow, I thought to myself, this is for the birds! After nine holes with my little rental push cart, I realized I absolutely loved it! I was able to swing, walk to my next ball all the time thinking about my next shot. I was converted just like that. We always use a power cart when I’m on vacation, and I wouldn’t say I like it. I like walking the course and thinking about my next shot. I also live in the Pacific Northwest, where the carts are rarely allowed on fairways because it is so rainy.

When I ride in carts, it is because we are on a very long course. The first time our group went to Auburn Golf Course, we walked. We enjoyed the day but, “Wow, why was I so tired?” Then someone shared our massive number of steps tracked on their fitness watch and we were blown away. So, when we go to Washington National or Auburn GC, we use carts. We all seem to be a little out of sorts, but we get through it. When I am in a cart, I tend to have more drinks, a rangefinder out, and more snacks. So there are perks (LOL).

Johanna: One of my favorite rides at the amusement park as a kid was the cars you could drive yourself. They were gas powered and there was a metal strip down the middle that you had to follow. It would prevent the car from going too far right or too far left. I loved that sense of freedom and felt like a grown up! That wonderful childhood feeling came rushing back the first time I played golf in a power cart with my husband over 20 years ago. We had so much fun!

In those few times we played I didn’t really learn how to play the game, I did learn some rules and the etiquette of the game. I also learned basic knowledge of using the power cart. It is very simple: you push the pedal and go. However, I do remember an instance when I had to back up and looked for anything labeled “reverse.” My husband had to show me that the key needed to be switched to the opposite side (for reverse).

Although I prefer to use a push cart, power carts can come in handy on more mountainous courses. For example, my wonderful golfing buddy and I went to Redmond Ridge. When we told the man at the pro-shop we would be walking the course, he gave us a look. When we got to the back nine, we realized why! A power cart will be rented for the next round there for sure!

Macarena: As a relatively new golfer, I have had little experience of driving a golf cart, as I prefer to walk the course. However, there have been a few times when I have rented a power cart and I was very thankful for my experienced golf partner who shared the “do’s and don’ts” of golf cart driving.

Getting your equipment into the cart: At some private clubs there is a golf cart valet system, where your clubs, scorecard and pencil, water and ice, sand, tees, towel, and markers, are loaded into the cart for you (maybe check with the member who has invited you to play – how you should tip the valet for this 5-star treatment). When you are playing at a public course you are responsible for making sure all your equipment is on board – and most importantly check that you have secured your golf bag to the cart, as they will fall off if you don’t (lesson learned from personal experience!). Golf carts can be reserved at a price when you make your tee time reservation. If playing at a new course you may want to ask advice about renting a cart – there have been a few courses I have played with BIG hills, which would have been exhausting to walk. Also there are some courses where it is mandatory that you take a cart – when I visited Arizona this was the case, and given the extreme heat I was very thankful!

Upon checking in: When you check in at the pro shop you will be given a key or the number of a cart you are to use, so make sure you identify the right one (they all look alike!). When you get into your cart make sure the battery is fully charged and you familiarize yourself with the controls, especially how to shift into reverse and how to apply brake (you don’t want to have any mishaps out on the course).

Golf cart rules: Also, when checking in you should ask the golf pro the local golf cart rules. These change from course to course and are also weather-dependent – for example, if the ground is wet and muddy, you may only be allowed to drive on the golf path and not on the fairway, to avoid damaging the turf. If this is the case, you will drive as near to your ball on the path (the “90-degree rule”), choose your club and walk to your ball. But at no time should you drive or park ahead of other players – in the same way that you do not walk ahead of a player about to hit their ball, you never should be ahead in your cart.

And it goes without saying that golf carts, like push carts, should never be on the green!

Etiquette: Carts make noise and can be a distraction to a golfer who is getting ready to hit their ball, so be mindful of starting up your golf cart when a player is hitting their ball – just wait until they have completed their shot, and then move. Also, if others are walking the course, you should ensure your cart does not obstruct play. Keep carts well out of others line of play and be courteous to others by making sure you keep track of everyone’s game and not distracted by driving away too soon. Some players in carts play music and party using their cart as a mobile bar – obviously, golf should be fun, but be aware that sound does travel and could disrupt fellow golfers on adjacent holes.

Who We Are

Johanna MacMichael

Johanna MacMichael: Prior to March 2021, I’d only played golf a few times with my husband in “scramble” games. During COVID, a neighbor friend recommended a women’s golf league and I started playing on a regular basis. I love this game! My handicap is 38.6.

Macarena Dearie

Macarena Dearie: I was born in the UK, with the past many years living in various countries around the globe. I made a promise to my husband over 30 years ago that I would learn to play his beloved golf game if he learned to ski. And so here I am. My handicap is 40.0.

Stephanie Standifer

Stephanie Standifer: At 55 years old I started taking golf lessons during the COVID pandemic. My instructors encouraged me to play more regularly, so I joined my first 9-hole women’s league in the spring of 2021. My handicap is 26.4.

Kristina Laidler

Kristina Laidler: I retired during the pandemic, so I’m returning to golf after years commuting and sitting behind a computer keyboard. I always wanted to play more, and better, golf but did not have the time until now. My handicap is 26.3.