In February, I wrote about how golf is predominantly a game of “No”, with golfers commonly hearing phrases like “No, you can’t wear those types of socks/shoes/shorts/shirts”, “No, women (or juniors) can’t be on the course this day of the week,”, “No, you can’t check email on your phone while in the clubhouse,”, “No, you can’t play unless you have an official handicap” and “No, you can’t use your own buggy, you must hire one from us.”

That last one, referring to bringing your own cart to the course, has been an increasingly contentious point in Australian golf, with some clubs/courses banning the use of personal golf carts/buggies, and thereby forcing golfers to hire the equipment from the club itself.

Recently, this policy at one club resulted in what can only be described as a ludicrous situation.

Last month, Inside Golf reader, Garry Beattie, won a brand-new Yamaha Golf Cart via an Inside Golf competition. Garry, an avid Inside Golf reader, was understandably thrilled to win the massive prize. That is, until he rocked up to his club, Cronulla GC, and was informed that he couldn’t use his own golf cart on the course!  It appears that the board had recently voted to ban the use of personal golf carts at the club (Oh, the irony!)

This policy isn’t unique to Cronulla. Over the last couple of years, I’ve received a heap of emails/letters and phone calls about other clubs putting similar bans in place.

Clubs will often cite “personal liability” concerns in regards to this decision, and how they “aren’t covered if a golfer causes damage via their own cart”. But as we all know, by holding a Golf Australia handicap, golfers ARE COVERED for personal liability and damages – whether carrying their clubs, pushing a motorised buggy or riding in a golf cart (their own or the club’s) .  So this “coverage” argument really only applies to, perhaps, the purely social golfer who doesn’t have a GA handicap. But to be honest, I imagine there aren’t many social golfers out there who own a $10,000 golf cart but won’t fork out $100 per year for a GA-approved social handicap. (But I could be wrong.)

I think the REAL issue here (as it is with most things) is the almighty dollar. Clubs simply don’t want to miss out on pro shop/rental revenue. And I sympathise with them – the club/course IS a business. But in many cases, these same clubs are then offering Groupon/Scoopon deals where the cart (and sometimes lunch and a beer) is all included, free of charge. Go figure!

Now, I understand that clubs have every right to run their operations however they like. But let’s get real here. It’s well documented that the golf industry is under significant pressure. The last thing we need to do is alienate golfers even more than they are already.  Like I said in February…we need less “no” and a whole lot more “yes.”

The alternative, it seems, would drive more golfers away.

For more on this growing issue, see the related story on page 24 this month.

See you on the fairways (or the cart path…),


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3 Responses to "The cart before the course"

  1. Jim Maher  June 1, 2018

    Golf carts use on some golf courses is compulsory, others it is your choice whether to hire a cart or not, as long as you hire the clubs cart,
    So you can bring your own electric buggy, or push buggy, but do not bring your own identical electric cart,because the club wants the hire money,
    Then there are other clubs that do not discriminate and allow you to bring your own golf cart.
    How would it be if we all had to hire a motor car to drive on some of the roads, and leave our registered car at home, then on other roads you are able to drive your own car.

  2. Jaj111  April 9, 2019

    There should be a National policy. That policy should allow personal carts.. To suggest o e must hire a cart is the same as forcing players to hire their clubs and push cart. Ludicrous..

    Sure if the course has stopped all ride on carts because of heavy rain and possible damage then do be it.

    The ride on cart, push cart, electric cart are all part of acceptable golf equipment.

  3. karl carter  August 5, 2019

    Clubs would most likely be in breach of the
    The Disability Discrimination Act 1992
    All Australian states & territories are covered by this act and other discriminatory acts
    If clubs insist that a person must use their internal golf carts and not that persons mobility scooter or cart, they should then also supply that cart at no cost – as charging a fee would also possibly fall within The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 – they are being forced to pay extra to use a facility because they have a disability?

    One would also need to question if a club would also be in breach of any OSH regulations?
    Many disability items such as scooters are personally tailored for the individual and their needs (by using a generic version not suitably adjusted for that persons personal needs) they may be contributing to additional injury or stress to that person.

    The passionate discussion needs to happen
    Clubs need to embrace change to encourage opportunity for all


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