Golf is an exciting, challenging, and fun game, so it’s understandable why so many people are drawn to it.
However, besides the game itself, plenty of golfers equally relish having a chance to walk around the scenic courses, enjoy a sunny day, and have some quality time with their fellow players.
Spending a day at the golf course can be so much fun, that even the non-golfers look for a chance to ride along with their golf-playing buddies.
Furthermore, during single games, a lot of players love having their wives, girlfriends, or kids keep them company.
However, players and those accompanying them are often unsure whether this is legal and allowed on the course.
Below, I’ll answer the question do golf courses allow ride alongs, and explain what you should pay attention to if you plan to join someone on the golf course, but are not actually going to play.
Do Golf Courses Allow Ride Alongs?
Whether you can have a non-golfer in a cart with you tagging along as you move through the course will mostly depend on the specific policies of the club where you’re planning a ride along.
Most courses, especially public ones, allow ride alongs, although they may have certain requirements and regulations on this matter.
Even private, membership-based clubs will often allow a non-golfer to navigate the course with the players as it can be beneficial for the club too.
Many clubs see it as an opportunity to expand their membership numbers, as ride alongs are a perfect chance for potential new members to explore the course.
Still, this may sometimes be seen as an intrusion into the private space of other players, most clubs have a set of rules for ride alongs.
These rules ensure that everyone on the course can stay safe and enjoy themselves.
Common Golf Course Ride Along Requirements
Below is a short overview of the most common requirements and policies golf clubs may have if they allow ride alongs.
Most golf clubs have different levels of membership and whether a certain member can take someone for a ride along will often depend on their membership status.
Membership tiers can differ from club to club, but typically there are five levels: individual, family, corporate, social, and out-of-state memberships, each with its unique privileges.
Commonly, golf clubs will allow their members to take a non-golfer with them on the course if they belong to a family or corporate membership tier.
These types of membership allow access to the course to multiple individuals and often some of them may not be there to play, but to keep their family members company or for business reasons.
Fees for Non-Golfer Riding Along
In many cases, golf clubs will charge special fees to people who are only on the course for the ride along.
These fees can vary greatly from course to course, so you can pay as low as $5, but some clubs charge up to $50.
There are clubs that will only allow someone to tag along if they pay a full playing fee.
The reason for this is mainly the insurance issues, as by paying the fee you confirm that you’re aware of all potential risks on the golf course.
Even if they’re not playing, those who are there for the ride along can just as easily get hit and injured by a stray ball.
Peak and Off-Peak Times
At some clubs, ride alongs are only allowed during off-peak hours.
Clubs feel that during busy times, people who are there only for the ride along can interfere with the game of other players and slow them down.
So, the best chance to be allowed to tag along with your friends or family members as they play golf is early in the morning or in mid-afternoon on weekdays.
Of course, many clubs sell tickets and allow ride alongs and spectators on the course during tournaments as a way to generate some extra income.
The Type of the Golf Course
Whether or not a ride along is allowed will also depend on the type of golf course.
Golf courses designed to host championships and big tournaments commonly have plenty of vantage points and pathways designed for the free movement of spectators, so you’ll often see players ride along with their friends or family members.
Also, the smallest par-3 courses will often allow ride alongs as they’re intended for more casual play and are cheaper to maintain.
Golf Course Ride Along Etiquette
Even when the course allows ride alongs, you’re still expected to follow certain rules and traditions, to make sure everyone on the course feels comfortable.
Golf puts a lot of emphasis on etiquette and even if you’re not playing you have a responsibility to honor it.
Many of these rules simply follow common sense to ensure there’s no risk of accidents.
Here are some of the main things to pay attention to:
- always stay behind other golfers to make sure you and the car don’t get hit by a miss-hit ball
- try to remain as silent as possible, as any sound may distract players and break their concentration
- be careful not to damage the playing surface, especially fairways and greens
- respect the dress code. Even if you’re not playing you should still dress appropriately for the golf course
- no joyriding
Ride alongs are a great way to enjoy a day on a golf course even if you don’t play yourself.
In addition, it’s the perfect opportunity to learn about the game if you’re interested in golf but still unsure whether it’s the right sport for you.
Riding along with more experienced golfers will help you get the feel of what the sport is really like and if you would enjoy it.
Plus, it allows those who are playing solo to still have some company during their game.
Still, some clubs don’t allow ride alongs, so make sure to always check beforehand if you can join your friends on the course if you don’t plan to play.
If it is allowed, always be mindful of other players and follow the club rules on ride alongs.