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We’ve probably all done it – driven our golf cart up to a green or tee, pulled to the side of the path and parked with a couple of tires on the grass. It’s a natural impulse. When you stop driving almost any other vehicle you pull over for safety and try to keep the roadway clear. On the golf course, you want other golfers or maintenance vehicles to get by. Unfortunately, our tendency to pull over onto the grass creates bad lies and a bunch of repair work for the maintenance team. It’s counterintuitive, but we should actually park with all four tires on the path, even if it seems like we’re blocking the way. Otherwise, some familiar problems are sure to develop.

In areas where a lot of carts park, it doesn’t take many people pulling over onto the grass to cause damage. What starts as a small bare spot will keep growing with more traffic. The bigger the bare patch gets, the more it looks like a great place to park and the worse it becomes. The soil gets compacted and settles, and the area may hold water after rain or irrigation – creating a puddle for carts to splash through as they pull over. The maintenance team can fix these damaged areas, but that takes up a lot of time they don’t have to spare.

Bare spots along paths are more than just a problem for the maintenance team, they also create bad lies that can make a mess of your scorecard. It’s no fun trying to hit a delicate chip onto the green from a bare dirt lie near a cart path. The Rules of Golf only allow for relief from these areas if they’re marked or otherwise defined as ground under repair, or the path directly interferes with your stance or swing. That means there’s a decent chance you’re playing from the dirt if you’re unlucky enough to end up there.

Parking with all four tires on the path, especially near tees and greens, is the only way to prevent this issue. Fight the urge to pull onto the grass! Chances are, nobody will need to go around you while you’re parked on the path. If someone does, it’s better that they pass once on the grass instead of you parking there every single time. Adding curbs or widening paths can help prevent damage, but those adjustments cost money and they don’t always solve the parking problem. Changing our behavior is definitely the best fix.