Read more below about when you can use golf carts and how to drive them.
An Electric Golf Cart: What Is It and Who’s It For?
Electric golf carts are small, electric-powered vehicles used on golf courses. You might also hear someone call it a golf buggy. Golfers use carts to transport their golf clubs around the green, rather than hiring a caddy.
While there are also combustion-powered golf carts that run on petrol, electric golf carts are a green alternative to using up fossil fuels. A typical golf cart weighs about 450 kilos with the batteries.
On the golf course, carts are an alternative to an electric golf trolley. Most carts have room for two golfers and their clubs, but they’re useful in many other places. Some larger models, used for landscaping on large estates, have cargo space for tools.
Golf buggies don’t meet Australian Neighbourhood Electric Vehicle standards. You can’t use them on public roadways without a proper license. You can still use them on private property, though.
These vehicles are great options if you’re travelling across university campuses. Any large estate or fairgrounds is too big to make walking an efficient use of time, particularly if you must make many trips. Retirement communities and movie sets are other places where you’ll see heaps of golf carts.
How Much Do Electric Golf Carts Cost?
You can find a used golf cart as cheap as AUD$1250. AUD$5500-7000 is what you can expect to pay for a new one.
Keep in mind that upgrading your tires and adding seats, radio, or other perks will increase the cost. You’ll also have to replace the battery every 3-5 years, and that costs about AUD$700.
How to Drive a Golf Cart
A golf cart’s different than a car or other motorized vehicle. The key is there to help you turn the vehicle on, but it acts more like an on-switch, rather than cranking over the engine.
Starting and Stopping
To turn the golf buggy’s engine on, you need to step on the gas pedal. This starts the engine and the golf cart begins driving ahead. If you remove your foot, the engine stops running and the cart slows.
Standard golf etiquette is to limit unnecessary chatter while on the green so golfers can concentrate. The original purpose of an engine that turns off when you let off the pedal was to keep golf courses quiet.
Use the brake pedal to the left of the accelerator to stop faster. Always leave yourself plenty of room to stop.
Electric golf buggies do great on hills with fully-charged batteries. On very steep ones it may slow down a little bit, but most of the time you won’t notice a difference.
To back up, find the lever to change the gears into reverse, then push on the accelerator pedal. It may also be a switch, rather than a lever, and it’s probably between the driver and passenger’s legs, close to the floor. The cart will beep while it’s in reverse.
If the cart starts beeping as soon as you turn it on, the last driver left it in reverse. Change gears back to drive to move the cart forwards again. Make sure to drive safely and always look behind you before backing up.
Golf cart keys aren’t unique to the vehicle, like in your car. Each model has a standard key. Anyone can order a replacement online.
For this reason, you should always lock up the cart or secure it to a permanent structure to keep it from being stolen. If you don’t, keep in mind that anyone with the same key can nick it.
There are no seat belts in a golf buggy, so you need to make sure that you, your passengers, and your cargo are secure before driving. Golf carts don’t have the speed of regular vehicles, or rearview mirrors or brake lights. They can cause a road hazard to other vehicles without proper precautions.
Golf Cart Batteries
To charge your electric golf buggy, plug the cord into a standard electric plug. Some modern electric golf buggies have solar panels. It’s a good idea to charge your cart after a round of golf (18 holes, 4-5 hours, or 6000 yards).
Until there are golf cart roadways with chargers like Queensland’s electric superhighway for road vehicles, carry a portable battery charger. You can know how to start, stop, and reverse but without a good battery, you won’t go anywhere, so do remember to keep them charged.
How Old Do You Have to Be to Drive an Electric Golf Cart?
In Australia, each state has its own requirements for licensing. They also stipulate how you can use a golf cart. Here are each state’s specific requirements.
New South Wales
You have to be 16 in NSW to get your learner license. After you have it for at least 10 months, you can apply for a P1 provisional license. After at least a year with your P1, you can apply for a P2 provisional license.
A P2 license is good for 3 years, but you can apply for a full license after 2 years. While you hold a P2 license you can’t drive over 100 km/h and can’t drive a prohibited vehicle without an exemption. Fortunately, a golf cart doesn’t fall in that category.
Golf carts are legal on the road with a conditional registration, if a regular road-legal vehicle can’t get the job done. Drivers with a medical need for a golf cart can also apply to drive on the road. Approved golf carts need extra lights and equipment for safety.
You can apply for a learner permit in Western Australia if you pass an eye exam and a medical fitness test. If you’re 15 1/2 you can apply for a learner’s moped permit, or if you’re 16 you can apply for a learner’s car class or motorcycle permit. You’ll have special P plates (provisional) for six months and then switch to green Ps plates.
During your first year with a provisional license, you are considered to be a novice driver type 1. After a year, you’re a novice driver type 2. Then you can get an ordinary driver license.
You can register a golf cart to drive on the road if you’re at least 18, and then you can drive it across or along a public road.
To apply for a learner permit in Queensland you have to be at least 16. Your doctor also has to certify that you’re fit to drive. After you turn 17, you can get your P1 provisional license and may drive alone.
There are restrictions at this stage, like only having one passenger and only driving from 5 am-11 pm. After at least a year, you can apply for your P2 provisional license, if you’re 18 or older. If you’re over 25, you can skip from a learner permit to a P2 after a year.
After you turn at least 20, you can apply for an open license. You’ll need a license and a registration for your golf buggy to drive it on the road in Queensland.
There are some nontraditional places the government qualifies as public roads, like parking lots, nature trails, and railroad crossings. If you’re caught driving your golf cart there or on a regular public road without a license and registration, you’ll get charged a fine.
You have to be at least 16 to get your driver permit in South Australia. After a year, you can get your P1 provisional license. A year later, you can get your P2 provisional license.
Two years after that, you can get your full driver license. If you plan to drive a golf cart on the road in South Australia, you have to get a conditional registration, with a detailed map showing where you intend to drive. You’re also restricted on speed and to daylight hours.
In Victoria, you can apply for your learner permit at age 16. You have to have your learner license a certain continuous holding time of at least a year if under 21. You also have a host of other requirements to complete before you can take your driving test.
Only then can you apply for your regular driver license (starting at age 18).
Golf carts in Victoria can travel on a road for 2 km or less, if they’re being used for their intended purpose. The only times you would need a driver license to operate a golf cart is if you’re driving a) farther than 2 km or b) for other purposes. Then the vehicle would also need to be registered.
To have a full driver license in Tasmania, you have to be 20. Otherwise, you can only hold a learner license (age 16) or provisional license (age 17). Those limited licenses have different rules to obey, such as speed limits.
To drive an electric golf cart on the road, you need a valid license, and you can’t drive after dark. You also may only crossroads to get to another part of the golf course.
No matter what state you’re in, you’ll need to follow their regulations to be safe and legal. Follow this full explanation of how to drive an electric golf buggy to prepare you for your first golf buggy drive on the course.
Make sure also to follow all the safety tips to protect you and your passengers.
For more on the top benefits of electric cars, check out this related article.