Do Golf Courses Allow Ride Alongs? (2023 Rules)
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Golf is a social sport, and you will often see individuals accompanying players as they move along the course. Additionally, you will notice them helping players with their golf bags or engaging them in casual talks.
Typically, these are golf club employees, and their job involves offering assistance to the club’s members. However, what if you are not an employee?
Do golf courses allow ride alongs? Some, not all, golf courses allow ride-alongs at their premises. Allowing it can result in plenty of benefits for the golf course, its members, and the non-players. You may need to meet specific requirements before gaining access (so check with the golf club before scheduling one!).
If you don’t want to play golf alone, keep reading to learn all you need to know about golf course ride-alongs. It includes the standard requirements you need to meet at most golf courses and the benefits of accompanying players on the course.
Additionally, you will discover the rules you need to observe during a ride-along.
What Is a Golf Course Ride Along?
A golf course ride-along is when you have a non-player with you as a passenger in the golf cart. They can either be a family member or friend who tags along as you navigate the course.
However, the ride-along policy may vary among clubs. You can almost guarantee that the top golf courses in the US won’t allow ride-alongs, but your local club might. Therefore, you should ensure you are clear on the provisions before asking someone to come with you.
What Are The Requirements for A Golf Course Ride Along?
Each golf course can enforce a unique set of requirements for its ride-along policy. Below are the categories where you can expect variations:
Your Membership Status
Most golf courses require you to have a membership before playing at their premises. Typically, five types of memberships are on offer: family, individual, corporate, out-of-state, and social memberships.
In addition, each membership status offers you unique privileges, depending on the course operator.
For example, golf courses that allow ride-alongs offer their family and corporate members the service. This is because these memberships allow access to multiple individuals simultaneously, and not all of you may be active golfers.
Some golf courses will charge a fee for their ride-along service. The fee can vary between $15 up to $50, depending on the service offering. Typically, golf clubs impose course fees to ensure continuous revenue, and the ride-along fee guarantees them the same.
In addition, some ride-alongs may involve more than one person. Therefore, the fee is to account for the extra golf cart you may require to transport your friends or family. Furthermore, the course may impose the fee as insurance for non-players should they suffer injuries while on the course, such as getting hit by a stray ball. You will find this practice is common in courses under local authority management.
Course Operation Times
Your golf course may only offer its ride-along service during off-peak times. Often, these are early morning and mid-afternoon on weekdays, when there is less traffic on the course. This is to prevent non-golfers from interfering with the golfing sessions of the club’s elite players.
Similarly, your club may decide to only offer ride-alongs during championships and tournaments to generate extra income. For example, most PGA championships allow for spectators on the course, and you can even witness some of the players riding with their families on the golf carts.
The Golf Course Type
There are six types of golf courses where you can play, and their design determines whether the operator will allow ride-alongs or not.
For example, championship or stadium courses feature numerous pathways and vantage points that allow for the free movement of spectators.
In addition, you will see them host a variety of championships, such as the PGA Tour, where players can ride along with family and friends as they play.
Par-3 courses are also ideal for ride-alongs since they are cheaper to maintain and allow for more casual play. In addition, many resorts opt to have them on their premises because they provide a wholesome experience for their guests.
On the other hand, golf course types such as links, parkland, heathland, and sandbelt may not offer the service. This is because the course maintenance fees are high, and they are usually in locations that are not easily accessible.
Furthermore, elite golfers prefer them for their practice sessions, given their challenging nature. As such, operators may limit their ride-along services to maintain exclusivity.
Benefits of Golf Course Ride Alongs
Below are some of the most common benefits of golf course ride-alongs.
They Are Great Learning Opportunities
A ride along is one of the best ways to learn golf basics. They present you with first-hand experience of different aspects of the game.
For example, you will learn what type of club to use in different course sections. Additionally, you can ask questions and get immediate feedback from the different players you meet.
They Ease the Burden for Golfers
Golf can be stressful, especially during big-money tournaments and championships. As such, having someone riding along with you can boost your morale and help you manage the tension.
In addition, your ride along partner can help you keep an accurate score while you concentrate on making the perfect shot.
They Help the Golf Course Earn Extra Revenue
Golf course ride-alongs generate extra income for golf courses through the extra fees they charge for renting course equipment such as golf carts and shoes.
Some golf courses serve non-players with drinks and food as they ride along, providing extra revenue opportunities for their catering operations.
Ride-alongs are an excellent way to attract new members to the golf club. Often, new players prefer to tour the course with active members before they enroll, and ride-alongs are the best opportunity.
Ride Alongs Are Great for Socializing
Golf is a social sporty, and ride-alongs are crucial to promoting this aspect of the game.
You can engage in conversations with other players outside your social circle and even land lucrative business opportunities.
Common Rules to Observe During a Golf Course Ride Along
You need to observe specific rules during a ride-along, which may vary depending on the course. Therefore, always confirm the course management’s ride-along policy before scheduling one.
Here are the most common ones that apply to most courses:
You should always be in proper golf attire when on the course. For example, you need to wear golf shoes during the ride along to prevent damage to the golfing surface, especially the fairways.
You need to be over sixteen to operate the golf cart and over eighteen to rent one.
All golf carts must be at least thirty feet from the tees and greens during ride-alongs.
Finally, you should always respect the other patrons on the course. For example, golf etiquette requires you to keep pace with those ahead of you to prevent delays to other players who tee off after you.