Can a Side by Side Be Used as a Golf Cart?


A few years ago my family and I bought a used side by side and we use it all the time! We love to get muddy up on the trails up on our mountain property, but it was a huge investment. With such a big investment I want it to be versatile. I was wondering if I would be able to use it at places like golf courses.

Can a Side by Side be used as a golf cart? Most golf courses do not allow side-by-sides in place of a golf cart. Side by sides, otherwise known as UTVs are constructed differently and have larger wheels, better suspension, and more power.

These differences although great for off-road is too rough on the fresh cut green of a golf course.

Side by sides and golf carts are changing so much, it is hard to know the difference between the two and where you can use which. With all these changes golf courses are becoming more strict on their golf cart policies, it is hard to know what is worth getting.

VehiclesWheel SizesHauling Capacity (Average)Speed CapabilitiesPassangers Seating (average)
Golf Cart
(Standard no modifications)
18X8.5X8under 1000 lbs10-20mph2-4
Side by Side
(Standard no modifications)
18X10-8 to 30X 10-141000-2000 lbs40-70 mph2-6

What are the classifications of a Side by Side?

A side by side is a recreational vehicle, it is often called a UTV which is a utility task vehicle. They are built for rougher terrains and built to work! These are great for avid campers who are working on projects, trail rides, and are also loved by farmers and others working outside.

It is different from your golf cart in the way that it is built; a side by side is normally going to be larger than a golf cart. The dimensions will vary according to make and model, but an average model can be quite a bit larger.

VehicleHeightWidthLengthGround Clearance
Side by Side74″62″118″10″
Golf Cart72″48″96″4.3″

Tires and Suspension

Like I mentioned previously UTV’s are created for rougher terrain, this means that the wheels are going to be quite a bit different than your average golf cart that is built for the beautiful greens at your golf course. These wheels have a more aggressive tread pattern that is best suited for dirt, water, and light mud.

When we refer to the suspension that is a system of different spring and shocks that act as a cushion to protect your vehicle’s mainframe from different falls, bumps and more. UTV’s are made for the unknown, they are great for driving over smaller rocks and because of their great suspension and their ground clearance it will do minimum damage to the machine. Whereas a golf cart is close to the ground and has limited suspension. This can result in serious damage to the engine and other key parts of your vehicle.

What are the classifications of a golf cart?

Golf carts are great for simple and calm transportation and the moving of light goods. Jump in with your buddy to go down the street with your clubs in the trunk. A standard golf cart is made for just that, they are usually slow going and used best in this way.

They are not as versatile as the UTV, but they are quite a bit cheaper than your average UTV. The fanciest of golf carts are going to be around the price point of an extremely basic side by side. You also save money on insurance, it is much cheaper to insure a golf cart versus a side by side. They are both reasonably cheap compared to your car insurance with side by sides being about 20-40 dollars a month and golf carts cost 10-20 dollars a month to insure.

VehiclePrices
Golf Cart$5000-$10,000
Side by Side$12,000-$25,000

Golf carts are usually powered by electricity and a majority of side by sides are going to be gas powered. When you eliminate the need for gas you end up saving quite a bit of money. It can also be easier to charge up at places like golf courses, and your home.

When can I use my private golf cart?

Golf Courses

Golf courses vary across the board with if they will let you bring your own vehicle. A majority of newer courses have carts that are specifically designated for their courses. They have been changing for many reasons, but many have stated they do not want vehicles that have been modified to be on their courses. Be sure to contact your desired course on their policy about privately owned golf carts.

Bussiness Use

It is becoming more and more common to use golf carts for bigger businesses to transport materials and individuals to different areas. They are safe and easy to maneuver. They are a safer option to bring into an environment with a lot of foot traffic. We see that golf carts are used at different companies including:

  • Retirement communities
  • College campuses
  • Campgrounds
  • Landscaping Companies
  • Warehouses
  • Small residential roads

Should I get a golf cart or a Side by Side?

So now it is important to decide which vehicle is going to best work for you. There are a few questions you need to consider before making this choice. These vehicles can be big investments, not only with the initial purchase but the essential maintenance cost, insurance, and more. It is important to consider the factors before making this decision.

Does my golf course allow golf carts?

This is the factor that changes everything, not all courses allow privately owned vehicles. Call your preferred course or a list of courses that you are looking at to see their policy. What type of insurances do they require for those that allow privately owned golf carts, where in their facilities do they allow them driven?

How often do I go golfing?

Most bigger courses have rental golf carts that you can use, would it be cost efficient to invest thousands of dollars into a machine that you are now required to do maintenance on? Keep in mind the value of that golf cart is going to depreciate? If you are going to use this machine to primarily golf, and you are not an avid golfer, rent. Save your money, they are fun but you don’t really need it.

Where else do I want to take my vehicle?

Golf carts are more acceptable in public places if you are in a retirement community or in a small area that you can ride these vehicles they are going to be the choice. They are also easier to legalize on small, slow city streets.

On the other hand, if you are looking at a standard golf cart they are not going to be the best choice for camping or going on to rocky terrain. They will not be nearly as fun as side by sides on trail rides, or as safe. Side by sides are equipt with seat belts, suspension and are built for the outdoors. If you want an outdoor vehicle, I recommend going with the side by side. They are more expensive, but they are going to stay in better condition and be safer for you and your passengers.

Related Questions?

Where can you legally drive a golf cart? Golf cart laws differ from state to state and area to area. But many communities are legalizing them in low-speed zones. Each state has its own way of doing it, in California it is a state law, but other states leave it for the cities to decide on.

Is a golf cart considered to be a UTV? Golf carts are not considered to be UTVs, they are designed for recreational use and they usually cannot go much over 20 miles per hour.

What are the differences between gas and electric powered golf carts? The differences between electric powered golf carts and the gas-powered have to do with power. Gas powered vehicles are going to have more power and speed, and they will be able to go longer than electric powered vehicles. Electric vehicles save money because they do not add the extra cost of gas.

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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