Is Driving a Golf Cart Like Driving a Car?

When it comes to modes of transportation, cars have long been the kings of the road. However, in certain settings, such as golf courses, resorts, and retirement communities, another vehicle often takes center stage: the humble golf cart. While golf carts are typically associated with leisurely rounds of golf, they are also used for various other purposes, including transportation within gated communities and at large events. This begs the question: Is driving a golf cart really like driving a car? In this blog post, we’ll explore the similarities and differences between these two modes of transport to shed light on the experience of operating a golf cart.

Rangefinder on Discount

I. Purpose and Design

Cars: Cars are designed for a wide range of purposes, from daily commuting to long-distance travel. They come in various sizes and styles to accommodate diverse needs, such as compact cars for city driving, SUVs for families, and trucks for hauling cargo. Cars are equipped with safety features, such as airbags and seatbelts, to protect occupants in the event of an accident.

Golf Carts: Golf carts, on the other hand, are purpose-built vehicles primarily intended for transporting golfers and their clubs around golf courses. They are compact, typically seating two to four people, and lack many of the safety features found in cars. Golf carts are electric or gas-powered and have a top speed that is significantly lower than that of cars.

II. Licensing and Regulation

Cars: Operating a car on public roads requires a driver’s license, and drivers must adhere to a strict set of traffic laws and regulations. Licensing requirements vary by location, but they generally involve written tests, practical driving exams, and age restrictions.

Golf Carts: In many areas, golf carts can be operated without a driver’s license on private property or designated golf cart paths. However, when driven on public roads, regulations vary widely. Some places require a special golf cart license, while others treat them like regular vehicles, necessitating a driver’s license and compliance with traffic laws.

III. Speed and Performance

Cars: Cars are designed for speed and performance, with the ability to reach high speeds on highways. They have powerful engines, advanced suspension systems, and multiple gears to handle a wide range of driving conditions.

Golf Carts: Golf carts are not built for speed. Their top speeds typically range from 15 to 25 miles per hour (24 to 40 kilometers per hour). They have simple suspension systems and lack the acceleration and handling capabilities of cars. Golf carts are best suited for short-distance travel within specific environments.

IV. Safety Features

Cars: Safety is a paramount concern in the automotive industry. Modern cars are equipped with an array of safety features, including anti-lock brakes, traction control, electronic stability control, airbags, and advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) like lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control.

Golf Carts: Golf carts generally lack the comprehensive safety features of cars. While some models have basic safety elements like seatbelts and headlights, they do not offer the same level of protection in the event of a collision. It’s essential for golf cart drivers and passengers to exercise caution and wear seatbelts when available.

V. Environmental Impact

Cars: Many modern cars are equipped with fuel-efficient engines or run entirely on electric power, making them more environmentally friendly than older models. Hybrid and electric cars produce lower emissions, contributing to reduced air pollution and a smaller carbon footprint.

Golf Carts: Golf carts are typically electric or gas-powered, with electric models being the more environmentally conscious choice. Electric golf carts produce zero tailpipe emissions, making them a greener option for short-distance travel in environmentally sensitive areas like golf courses.

VI. Maintenance and Cost

Cars: The maintenance of cars can be more complex and costly compared to golf carts. Cars have intricate engines, complex transmission systems, and a wide range of electronic components. Regular maintenance, including oil changes, brake inspections, and tire rotations, is essential to keep a car running smoothly. Repairs for cars can also be expensive due to the complexity of their systems.

Golf Carts: Golf carts are relatively simple vehicles, with fewer components and a less complicated design compared to cars. Maintenance for golf carts typically involves tasks like battery maintenance (for electric carts), tire upkeep, and occasional servicing of the motor or engine. These maintenance tasks are generally more affordable than car maintenance and repairs.

VII. Parking and Storage

Cars: Parking a car can be a challenge, especially in crowded urban areas. Cars require designated parking spaces, and the availability of parking can be a significant concern in densely populated regions. Some parking facilities also charge fees, adding to the cost of car ownership.

Golf Carts: Parking and storing golf carts are generally more straightforward. In golf course communities or resorts, designated parking areas or garages are often provided. Golf carts are compact and can be easily stored in a garage or shed when not in use, making them convenient for homeowners in such areas.

VIII. Terrain and Accessibility

Cars: Cars are designed to handle a wide range of terrains, from city streets to rugged off-road trails. Four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive vehicles are available for those who need to navigate challenging terrain or adverse weather conditions. This versatility allows cars to be used in diverse environments.

Golf Carts: Golf carts are primarily designed for flat and well-maintained surfaces, such as golf courses and gated communities. They lack the robust suspension and tire capabilities of off-road vehicles, limiting their usability in rough terrain or adverse weather conditions. Golf carts are best suited for relatively smooth and level surfaces.

IX. Community and Recreational Use

Cars: While cars are primarily utilitarian vehicles for transportation, they are also used for recreational purposes, such as road trips, camping, and travel adventures. Cars provide the flexibility to explore a wide range of destinations and activities.

Golf Carts: Golf carts often have a more recreational and community-oriented use. They are popular for leisurely drives around golf courses, retirement communities, and resorts. Golf carts offer a relaxed and sociable way to get around in these settings, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie.

Vehicle Type

AspectGolf CartCar
Vehicle SizeSmallVaried
Speed LimitLowHigh
License RequiredNoYes
Environmental ImpactLowModerate to High
Typical UseLocal TransportationGeneral Transportation
Noise LevelQuietVaries
Cost of OwnershipLowHigh
Parking SpaceCompactVaried
Fuel TypeElectric/GasolineGasoline/Diesel/Electric
Legal Road UseRestricted to Certain AreasAllowed on Roads

Safety Comparison

AspectGolf CartCar
Seatbelts RequiredNoYes
Crumple ZonesNoYes
Collision SafetyLimitedHigh
Roll-Over RiskHigher (for some models)Lower
Braking SystemBasicAdvanced

Environmental Impact

AspectGolf CartCar
Fuel EfficiencyHighModerate
Carbon FootprintLowModerate to High
Energy SourceElectric (for some)Gasoline/Diesel/Electric
Impact on Air QualityMinimalCan Contribute to Pollution

Maintenance and Operating Costs

AspectGolf CartCar
Maintenance CostLowModerate to High
Fuel/Charging CostLowModerate to High
Insurance CostLow (if required)High
Depreciation RateLowModerate to High
Parking and TollsAffordableCosts May Vary

Convenience and Accessibility

AspectGolf CartCar
Ease of ParkingVery EasyModerate to Difficult
Availability of Charging/Fuel StationsLimitedWidely Available
Passenger CapacityLimited (usually 2-4)Varied (2-7 or more)
Long-Distance TravelLimitedSuitable for Long Trips


In summary, the experience of driving a golf cart is significantly different from that of driving a car. While both serve as modes of transportation, they cater to distinct purposes and come with various characteristics, including design, licensing requirements, speed, safety features, and maintenance considerations.

Understanding these differences is crucial for individuals who operate both vehicles. Whether you’re navigating the open road in your car or enjoying a peaceful ride on a golf cart through a picturesque community, being aware of the unique features and limitations of each vehicle enhances safety and ensures a more enjoyable experience. So, whether you prefer the speed and versatility of a car or the relaxed charm of a golf cart, both have their place in our diverse transportation landscape.

Is Driving a Golf Cart Like Driving a Car?


  • Ryan Spino

    Ryan Spino, our Executive Editor since January 2022, has been instrumental in shaping The Golf Mine. His vision, backed by a Golf Management MBA and extensive editorial expertise, has expanded our coverage, ensuring that every article upholds our commitment to quality and accuracy in the golfing realm.

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