Q. How Far Should Cart Paths Be from Greens?

By: Jeffrey D. Brauer

A. I do know that they are often placed too close. From experience, these are my guidelines:

Green Area Paths Should:

Have an ideal minimum distance from the green edge of:

40 to 55 feet from the LEFT green edge
50 to 60 feet from the RIGHT (slice) green edge (more sliced shots find them . . .)
30 to 40 feet from the back edge. In tight spots I have seen them as close as 25 feet from the green back, but so few shots go over the green it is rarely a problem.
Paths should never be further than 60 feet from the green, where access to the green is available, because any further invites short-cutting inside the path.

Both tees and greens need:

Pavement 10 to 12 feet from the full length of the natural entry points.
Curbs to control traffic and, in all areas, flat enough to encourage golfers to walk on.

Avoid small "pull-out areas" of only one or two cart lengths. These concentrate traffic to one area, effectively limiting your walk-on path to only 15 to 20 feet, which is far too narrow to spread wear.

Creating entries near the back tends to speed play by moving players ahead, minimizing delays.

Avoid entry through main drainage ways, narrow mounds or to a small portion of the green.

Tee Area Paths Should:

Be 25 to 40 feet from and parallel to the tee edge; making all areas equidistant and similarly sloped from the tee, thus moving tee markers moves the natural entry point.
Avoid narrow-access routes and steps.
Minimize visual distractions and be out of the line of play.
Minimize vertical climb. If the tee is raised, raise the cart path in deference to your senior players.
If you have only partial cart paths leading out from the tee, extend them well past the most forward tee, preferably on a gentle curve. Straight and abrupt path ends concentrate exiting traffic. With these, you will need to artificially spread traffic with portable barriers, moved daily.

Fairway Area Paths Should Be:

30 to 50 feet from the fairway, at main entry points, and further in other areas, blending convenience and concealment.
On the right side of the fairway, where possible.
On the side with the fewest obstructions (bunkers, mounds, etc.).
On the outside of doglegs, out of play and vision, unless they can be well hidden on the inside.
Shaded by trees between exit areas, for concealment.
Near fairway level to assure convenient access (including ADA.) Being slightly above the fairway allows golfers to see their balls on the fairway from the cart, speeding play.
Routed away from dangerous areas like high-play zones of adjacent holes and hazards such as steep drop-offs.

To my eye, there is something unattractive about a cart path that perfectly parallels the fairway edge, 5 to 10 feet off the edge. I prefer them well off the fairway, and integrated with trees and contours for a better appearance.

Jeffrey D. Brauer began his career as an apprentice in the Chicago area in 1977. His first project was Kemper Lakes, which shortly after hosted the 1989 PGA Championship. He formed GolfScapes in Arlington, Texas, in 1984. In the last 29 years he has designed and consulted on a wide spectrum of projects, ranging from partial renovations to international resorts. His recent work includes teaming with the design team of Pascuzzo and Pate on a remodel of the world-famous La Costa Resort & Spa in California, and renovations at Superior National Golf Course in Lutsen, Minn., and Mesquite Municipal Golf Course in Mesquite, Texas.

He has been a member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects since 1981, serving as President during its 50th Anniversary year in 1995-96. Jeff still studies the classic works - both old and new, and has played more than 75 of the best courses in the world.

Jeff gives many presentations and is a regular architecture columnist for many publications and websites, including Golf Course Industry and Cybergolf.com. He has also been a strong advocate for the "Tee it Forward" campaign and strives to make his courses fit the description of "fun to play every day."

Jeff's work has been spotlighted in most of the world's major golf magazines. Golf World ranked him as one of the top-20 golf course architects and Golf Inc. ranked him as the world's fourth-best value in golf architecture in 2010. Jeff's portfolio and reputation keep him at the forefront of desired designers for new courses, reconstruction and renovation projects.

For more about Jeff, visit http://www.jeffreydbrauer.com/sites/courses/layout.asp?id=859&page=48451.