Do Golf Courses Allow Ride Alongs?

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A round of golf is a therapeutic way of being out in nature while disconnecting from the stresses of everyday life.

If you have a friend or partner who doesn’t play golf but wants to enjoy the thrill of being out on the course, you might wonder: do golf courses allow ride alongs?

In this article, you’ll learn everything about bringing non-playing guests to the golf course, from etiquette to expected fees.

Do Golf Courses Allow Ride Alongs?

While many golf courses allow ride alongs, it’s best to check with the course beforehand. Sometimes, courses will charge a fee for any guests using the golf cart with you, even if they are just observing. This is usually a cart fee, but can also be a full playing fee.

What is a Golf Course Ride Along?

A golf course ride along is when you have a non-playing guest join you as a passenger in a golf cart. This could be anyone from a family member to a friend who rides along as you play the golf course.

Can You Be Charged a Fee for Non-Playing Guests?

In short, it depends. While some courses allow guests to accompany playing golfers at no extra charge, others will charge a fee for non-playing guests.

The main reason some courses will charge a fee is for insurance purposes.

When you buy a greens fee, you are entering into a contract that limits liability to the golf course in the event of accidents or damage.

This insurance protects the course owners in many potential scenarios. For example, golf cart accidents, course-goers being struck by a ball, or equipment damage are all events that would be covered by insurance.

By charging a fee, whether it’s a greens fee or an extra cart fee, course operators remain protected by the insurance policy for every person on the course at any time.

Related Article: Can You Walk on a Golf Course Without Paying?

Why Do Some Golf Courses Not Allow Ride Alongs?

There are two main reasons why a golf course would not allow guests to ride along with a playing golfer on the course: insurance and pace of play.

Insurance

As touched on earlier, insurance is something for course operators to consider when allowing non-playing guests on the golf course.

In some policies, it is explicitly stated that non-playing observers cannot be present on the course at any time as it poses additional risk.

In such cases, course owners will be forced to turn away spectators from accompanying playing golfers.

Pace of Play

Courses sometimes state pace of play as a reason why spectators are not allowed to ride along with playing golfers. This is the same reason why sharing clubs on the golf course is prohibited by some courses.

If a spectator without golfing experience attempts to hit some practice shots or is distracting the playing golfer during the round, this can cause problems with holdups for the groups behind.

Of course, not every spectator will do this! However, some courses prefer to avoid the risk that other golfers are disrupted as this can damage their reputation.

Golf Course Etiquette for Non-Playing Guests

If your golf course allows guests, there are a couple of things to consider when it comes to course etiquette.

Dress Code

Many golf courses have dress codes in place, which apply to both playing golfers and non-playing spectators.

In general, this means a collared shirt for men and modest-looking shirts for women.

However, there is no fixed dress code in golf. Be sure to check in advance with the course to see if they have any specific requirements.

Driving the Cart

If your guest is driving the golf cart, make sure they’re aware of the basic driving rules.

Some courses have a cart-path-only rule in place, while others will allow you to drive directly to your ball. Once again, make sure to check this with the course before you set off for your round.

Be respectful of other golfers on the course, and have fun!

Why Bring a Guest to the Golf Course?

There are several benefits to having a guest join you out on the course, even if they aren’t bringing a set of clubs for themselves.

They Can Learn the Game

Experiencing the course first-hand as a spectator is a great way to learn the game.

While the driving range is the place to practice ball striking as a beginner, being out on the course will help your guest learn the basics of golf. Club selection, lie angles, and reading the conditions are all valuable skills that can be picked up while on the golf course.

They Can Offer Company

If you’re playing 18 holes, having a guest accompany you for four hours is a great social activity.

For more enjoyment and a less stressful round, choose a quieter tee time so you aren’t pressured by groups behind. This will allow you to spend a few extra minutes discussing ideas like shot selection with your guest.

They Provide More Revenue for the Club

Golf courses are tough to operate, with high maintenance costs to keep them at a high standard all year round.

By paying a spectator or additional cart fee, you are contributing to the upkeep of the course!

Conclusion

In summary, it can depend on several factors whether a golf course will allow ride alongs. The biggest factor is the terms set by the course’s insurance policy.

The most important thing to do is contact the golf course ahead of time to learn about their policies for spectators.

If the course does allow spectators, make sure your guest understands basic golf etiquette. Stick to dress codes, avoid disrupting the pace of play, and be respectful of other golfers on the course.

Most importantly, enjoy the company on your round!

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Hailing from the South West of England, Jake has been playing golf for over a decade. He founded Pitchmarks with the aim of helping everyday golfers like himself learn more about the game, through instructional content and honest gear reviews. He has a degree in Architecture and a passion for golf course design, along with a lofty goal to play the world's top 100 courses.