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Traffic Tips: How To Reduce the Impact of Carts, USGA Central Update

Paul Jacobs, USGA | Published on 5/22/2024
Paul Jacobs, agronomist, Central Region

The combination of concentrated cart traffic and trees is a recipe for turf loss.

With rounds up at most facilities, so is the amount of cart traffic. The use of golf carts is a controversial topic at many courses due to the toll they take on turf health and course conditions, but at some courses they are the norm. Unfortunately, traffic-related turf issues go hand in hand with cart use. Here are some tips that can help reduce the detrimental effects that golf carts have on course conditions:

  • Provide at least 30 to 40 yards of cart path near entry and exit points so cart traffic can enter and exit the path in different areas. Avoid abrupt cart path endings around tees and greens, as these will tend to concentrate traffic and increase damage.
  • If the budget allows, install continuous cart paths to protect the turf. This helps reduce the number of “walking-only” days due to rain, gives courses flexibility to use traffic-control measures like the 90-degree rule, decreases wear from maintenance equipment, and improves maintenance access to the course during bad weather.
  • Avoid directing cart path ends toward the fairway. The goal is to disperse traffic as much as possible, and path endings pointing toward the fairway encourage golfers to enter or exit the path at the same point. It may look odd, but orienting the end of the path slightly away from the main direction of traffic will encourage golfers to enter and exit from different points along the path.
  • Remove trees in and around high-traffic areas. They limit turf health and recovery, and act as obstacles that further concentrate traffic. The combination of trees and high-traffic areas usually results in bare dirt and a bumpy ride.
  • Implement site-specific aeration and fertility programs in high-traffic areas. These areas are prone to compaction, and turf that gets a lot of traffic usually benefits from additional nitrogen fertility to promote recovery.

At many courses, golf carts are part of the game. Some level of damage from cart traffic is inevitable in most cases, but if you are looking for ways to reduce traffic damage, these tips are a good starting point.

Central Region Agronomists:

Zach Nicoludis, regional director –

Paul Jacobs, agronomist –

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service

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