Golf carts are vehicles used to transport golf clubs and/or golfers along the golf course during a round of golf. Hand carts are designed to hold only the bag, and are used by players while walking along the course to relieve them of the weight of the bag. Carts that carry both player and bag are more common on public golf courses; most of these are powered by a battery and electric motors, though gasoline-powered carts are sometimes used by course staff, and some courses and players are beginning to explore alternatives such as bicycle-drawn carts.
The traditional way to play was to walk, but the use of golf carts is very common due to a number of factors. Chief among them is the sheer length of the modern course, and the required “pace of play” instituted by many courses to prevent delays for other golfers and maintain a schedule of tee times. A typical par-72 course would “measure out” at between 6000 and 7000 total yards, which does not count the distance between the green of one hole and the tee of the next, nor the additional distance caused by errant shots. A player walking a 7000-yard course might traverse up to 5 miles (8km). With a typical required pace of play of 4 hours, a player would spend 1.6 hours of that time simply walking to their next shot, leaving an average of only two minutes for all players to make each of the 72 shots for a par score (and most casual players do not score the course par).
The use of carts may be restricted by local rules. Courses may institute rules such as “90 degree paths”, where drivers must stay on the cart path until level with their ball, and then may turn onto the course. This typically reduces the effect that the furrows from the cart wheels will have on balls. Soft ground due to rain or recent maintenance work may require a “cart path only” driving rule to protect the turf, and a similar policy may apply in general to the areas around tee boxes and greens (and on shorter par-3 holes where fairway shots are not expected). The use of carts is banned altogether at most major PGA tournaments; players walk the course assisted by a caddy who carries equipment.