The Golf Cart Blog

Golf Car or Golf Cart?

by | Apr 7, 2020

What do you call it? Golf car vs. Golf cart

Something we get asked often, as our company name is “Desert Golf Cars” is “What is the difference between a golf car and a golf cart?” So I’ll try to set the record straight on the golf car vs. golf cart debate. You may think to yourself it is like saying soda or pop, you essentially mean the same thing but there is actually a difference in this particular debate.

Golf Cart vs. Golf Car

A golf cart (which is called a golf car in ANSI standard Z130.1) since golf “carts” are NOT self propelled) is a small vehicle designed originally to carry two golfers and their golf clubs around a golf course or on desert trails with less effort than walking. The manufacturers have defined them as cars because cars are ‘self propelled’ (meaning you drive them under their own power/engine/battery etc.) Carts are not self propelled (meaning you push or pull them). Any golf car/golf cart manufacturer or distributor will call it a golf car any day of the week.

The First Golf Cart

Now on to a little history, in 1932 Lyman Beecher, an electrical engineer, invented a cart with two wheels that was designed to be pulled. Due to his poor health, getting around the golf course at his summer home was becoming difficult for him to carry the clubs up the hills. This definitely helped the golfers become more efficient on the golf courses when there was not a caddy available. Back in those days golf was considered a “rich man’s sport” so once these pull carts were made available at golf courses the number of golfers increased due to the convenience since you did not have to be rich to afford a caddy you could use the pull cart instead. Electric and gas golf cars did not begin to receive acceptance on a course until the late 1950’s! We will dive into more history in my next blog because I am absolutely fascinated by how golf cars/golf carts came about!

Golf Car Rules

Nowadays golf cars have gained so much popularity and not just for golfers! All over the world golf cars are used on the golf courses, off roading, getting around town, ranchers use them for hauling hay and managing their land, job sites, property managers etc., I am sure that there are other uses that I am missing, the list can go on and on!

Although golf cars have gained so much popularity over the years within all age groups because of their convenience, lower price point, versatility and durability, nearly one half of golf car or golf cart drivers in the U.S. are 65 years of age or older. Here in Arizona we have a large number of retirement communities and seasonal residents that own a golf car for the convenience of getting to and around the golf course, around town, going to the grocery store, going out to dinner, the salon, you name it! The lower price point and less expensive cost for service is definitely a plus! For some residents, it is their only means of transportation especially when they only reside here seasonally.

The next question you might ask is what qualifies a golf car to be considered street legal since they don’t go as fast as traditional cars do?

I am not as familiar with other states as I am with Arizona, but here in Arizona we have golf car lanes on a lot of roads in and near retirement communities, and designated golf car parking spots for them as well.

Each state has their own requirements but we are pretty similar across the board. For a golf car to be considered a street legal or a LSV (Low speed vehicle) it must have at least 3 wheels on the ground, can not carry more than four people at a time, working seat belts, headlights and tail lights, turn signals, working brakes, horn, windshield, can not exceed 25 miles per hour and an individual VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) and you do need a valid driver’s license to operate it on the road. However, Unlike your typical vehicles, golf cars can not be driven on a road with a speed limit that exceeds 35 miles per hour and do still have to obey all traffic laws.

I hope if you were ever curious about what exactly the difference was between a golf cart and golf car you now understand the difference and will feel quite intelligent when explaining to others if the question ever comes up in conversation during a round on a Sunday afternoon, you will even have a fun tidbit of history to throw in there as well.