Activities Sports & Athletics Explaining the 90-Degree Rule at Golf Courses Share PINTEREST Email Print The sign at this golf course lets golfers know that the 90-degree rule is in effect. Tim Evanson/Flickr/Creative Commons 2.0 Sports & Athletics Golf Basics History Gear Golf Courses Famous Golfers Golf Tournaments Baseball Basketball Bicycling Billiards Bodybuilding Bowling Boxing Car Racing Cheerleading Cricket Extreme Sports Football Gymnastics Ice Hockey Martial Arts Professional Wrestling Skateboarding Skating Paintball Soccer Swimming & Diving Table Tennis Tennis Track & Field Volleyball Other Activities Learn More By Brent Kelley Brent Kelley is an award-winning sports journalist and golf expert with over 30 years in print and online journalism. our editorial process Brent Kelley Updated March 02, 2019 The "90-Degree Rule" is something golf courses put into place when they want to allow the convenience of golf carts but minimize the impact of those carts on the golf course's fairway grass. When the 90-degree rule is in effect at a golf course, it means: Riding in golf carts is allowed, and Those carts can be driven onto the fairway, but They must remain on cart parts as much as possible, turning off the path only at right angles (90 degrees) to reach the players' golf balls. Key Takeaways: 90-Degree Rule A golf course puts the 90-degree rule into effect when it wishes to allow golfers the convenience of using riding carts, but also to limit the time those carts spend on the fairway grass. To abide by the 90-degree rule, golfers keep the golf cart on the designated cart paths until even with their golf ball, then turn at a 90-degree angle to drive to the ball. How to Drive the Cart When 90-Degree Rule Is in Effect It's simple, really: Keep the golf cart on the designated cart path (off the turfgrass, in other words) as much as you possibly can. For example, after hitting your drive, do not jump in the cart and drive it up the middle of the fairway directly to your golf ball. Instead, jump in the cart and drive it on the cart path only until you are even with the position of your golf ball. Then, turn the cart at a right angle (hence, "90-degree" rule) and drive straight over to your golf ball. Play the shot. Then jump back into the cart, drive it straight back to the cart path, and continue moving up the hole on the designated cart path. The 90-Degree Rule Is a Middle Ground All passenger golf carts damage the grass on golf courses, including by compacting the soil. At some golf courses, the amount of play and the types of soil or grasses make it OK for golfers to drive carts on the fairways at any time — the damage from carts is minimal and greenskeepers can deal with it. But a small number of golf courses ban riding carts at all times. At most golf courses, though, where riding carts are allowed to go on the course often depends on daily turf conditions and weather conditions. The cart rules can even change hole-by-hole. So at most courses, the rules, depending on conditions, will range from it being OK to drive the cart up and across fairways, to the carts being banned entirely from leaving the cart paths (called the "cart path only" rule). The 90-degree rule is the middle ground between those two extremes. It keeps riding carts off the grass for most of the hole, but still allows golfers the convenience of turning off the cart path to drive to and from the position of a golf ball. The 90-degree rule is permanently in effect at many courses; at others, it will be put into effect following rains or when course conditions warrant. Look for signs near the first tee or in the pro shop that might indicate whether the condition is in effect. Even when the 90-degree rule is not in effect at a golf course, it's a good practice to follow because it helps maintain a healthier turf.