This is the third post in a multi-post series on golf course maintenance from an interview with Brandon Evans, General Manager & PGA Certified Golf Professional at Village Greens of Woodridge (and self-imposed “Director of Fun and Entertainment”).

In this post, we talk about cart rules and the factors that effect general cart traffic.

CGN: Speaking of motorized carts, let’s talk about that 90 degree rule. Courses try to enforce it, but more times than not, players don’t adhere to it. How exactly does that rule help you? How long do the side effects of players not adhering to the 90 degree rule effect the quality of the course? What other motorized cart rules can you try to enforce?

BE: Cart rules generally fall into the scatter (go anywhere), rough only, 90 rule, fairway only, cart path only, or no cart rules.

Scatter and no carts are obvious. Rough only may be applied when a course doesn’t have continuous cart paths, wants some cart revenue, but it’s pretty wet and they don’t want golfers to damage the more important fairway turf. They’re usually acknowledging that some damage will take place in the rough, but the cost/satisfaction/benefit ratio is positive and the rough can be fixed. Some courses have excellent fairway drainage and/or divert the stormwater into the rough, so they’ll mandate fairways only because the turf there is drier and less likely to become damaged. Cart paths only means you could damage numerous areas of the course and the course invested in all of those cart paths so the golfers are going to use them and not damage any of the turf. 90 degree rule usually means it’s wet in the fairways, but severe damage isn’t imminent and we’re trying to keep satisfactions levels somewhat high. However, wet turf is more susceptable to compaction, and compaction is bad for turf… so the less traffic we have in the fairways, the better. 90 degree rule is the hardest to police because we’re not necessarily restricting fairway access… we’re simply ‘hoping’ to get as much cooperation as possible from our guests to minimize turf wear and tear.

Of course, there are other factors for each of the above than just stormwater… balancing traffic patterns to avoid overuse in some areas, chemical applications that need to dry or settle, high levels of play when grass is weak or susceptable, turf disease or conditions favorable for disease, recent aerifications, etc. could all have an impact on where the course would prefer carts to go and not go. For instance, pythium is a disease that can wipe out the turf on a golf course in 48 hours. If disease is present or favorable, having carts transfer the disease from one area of the course to another so multiple areas become infected isn’t in anyone’s best interest.