Tips For Playing Golf from a Seated Position
The following tips and techniques have been collected from several golfers who have played over 1000 rounds of golf from a seated position using specially adapted golf carts. Recognition is given to John Nicholas and Bob Schmonsees who were instrumental in developing these tips.
The USGA has established specific modifications in the Rules of Golf that cover competitive golf for people with disabilities. Details are available at the USGA Disability Resource Center website.
In the above-mentioned modifications, the USGA acknowledges that the fundamental tenet of "playing the ball as it lies" presents significant additional logistic, speed of play, and safety challenges for those golfers who play from a seated position.
These additional challenges are compounded by:
It is much more difficult to hit a golf shot from a seated position, even with a perfect lie on level ground, than from a standing position. It is even more difficult to hit on a slope.
There are significant other factors including the added positioning, balance and mobility limitations faced by a disabled golfer.
It is virtually impossible to position an adapted car so that when the seat is swiveled the hitting position is properly aligned.
The following tips and suggestions do not create any unfair advantage for the seated golfer, and will hopefully encourage disabled individuals to become an active and integrated part of the golfing population.
They are not intended in any way to replace the Rules of Golf or the USGA Modifications.
Instead, they are offered to provide disabled golfers with suggestions and proven techniques for recreational golf that will:
- Increase safety for disabled golfers and their playing partners
- Reduce damage to golf courses
- Significantly improve speed of play
- Increase the enjoyment of the game for people with disabilities
- Provide a rational and repeatable process for adjusting the ball
- Rationalize certain rules for hazards and penalties
- Create a repeatable scoring methodology for input to the USGA handicap system
It is important to note that these tips and techniques, while offering practical solutions to the above issues, are based upon the fundamental principle that "the seated golfer shall not use these techniques as a vehicle to gain any discernable advantage over a walking player, who would be required to play the ball as it lies."
As a matter of courtesy, it is suggested that you provide advance notice to the course that you will be coming and that you are intending to either use the courses adapted golf cart or one that you will be bringing.
Often you will be playing with persons who have never seen an adapted golf cart. The reaction of most golfers is enthusiastic support. However, it is recommended that upon introduction on the first tee, the disabled golfer explain how the cart will be used, i.e. tees and greens, and the modifications discussed here.
Golfers who play from accessible carts should always operate the cart safely, try to improve their speed of play, and adjust their play as necessary in order to minimize any damage to the golf course. In most situations with a very wet course, the adaptive car, if driven slowly, will not leave any tire tracks. In extreme cases where there is the potential for tire tracks, you could have a playing partner retrieve the ball from wet fairway areas to reduce the possibility of tire track damage. You could also have a partner putt for you when the greens are soggy and tire tracks would be more visible than normal.
If you have to go up or down a slope, be sure to go straight up or straight down. It is not safe to go sideways on a slope.
Teeing the Ball
To increase speed of play and rationalize scoring, you should tee off from the tees that would allow you, with good shots, to reach the green in regulation. Most people who play from carts use the forward tees and enter their scores into the handicap system from that perspective.
To speed up play have a playing partner tee the ball for you.
If you are playing alone, either learn to set up your tee quickly or hit off the ground.
Sequence of Play
If you follow the recommendations below, you should be able to maintain the pace of play required by the course.
Always play "ready golf". This means you should get to your ball and get set up quickly. You can always hit out of position to speed up play.
Upon reaching your ball, safely position the cart in a hitting position as close as possible to the point where you would be able to hit the ball as it lies, approximating, as accurately as possible, the direction of the ball flight that a walking golfer would choose.
If any adjustment is needed, adjust the ball with your club so that it can be safely addressed
Strike the ball.
Adjusting the Ball (also called bumping)
You should always attempt to play the ball as nearly as possible to how it lies at all times, even if the slope presents a more difficult, but still safe, shot for you.
A lie shall be considered playable and able to be adjusted without penalty only if a walking player would elect to play the ball and not take an "Unplayable Lie". If the ball would be unplayable by a walking golfer then the normal penalties would apply to the seated golfer.
You may move the ball to a safer portion of the course, but it shall not discernibly improve either the condition of the lie, your original line of sight, or your distance to the hole.
Normal (Self) Adjustment
Once you have safely positioned the cart as close as you can to a position which would let you play the ball as it lies, you may, without penalty and without any assistance from others, move and adjust the ball (by hand or with a club) while remaining seated, so you can safely strike the ball. Adjusting the ball in a hazard shall not be considered grounding the club in the hazard. Any ball adjustment shall:
Insure that the ball is played from the same element of the course as it originally came to rest.
Shall not improve either the original line of sight, or the distance to the hole.
Approximate, as close as possible, the physical condition of the lie of the ball. For example if the ball was buried in the sand or rough, you must adjust it with the club after moving it to duplicate the physical condition of the lie.
You may take "Safety Relief" when your ball would be playable by a walking golfer, but you are unable to safely position your golf cart close enough to the original lie to reach and adjust the ball yourself. This could be on a steep hill or other place that is inaccessible to the cart.
In this case, have someone playing with you retrieve the ball and drop it without penalty within the same element of the course, no closer to the hole, and not improving the line of sight to the hole, where your cart can safely be positioned.
After the Safety Relief drop then you can adjust the ball as you normally would without improving the condition of the original lie.
Inaccessible Sand Traps and Normally Playable Hazards
Even though a walking golfer could play the ball as it lies in certain hazards, including sand, you may declare a sand trap or other normally playable hazard (like the grass slope next to a creek that is marked as part of the lateral water hazard) inaccessible. After you declare the hazard inaccessible you may remove the ball from the hazard and drop it with a one-stroke penalty. Once the ball is removed, you may drop it outside of the hazard in any portion of the course, no closer to the hole, where you can safely adjust the ball and strike it.
While driving the cart on the green does not cause a depression in the green, leaving the cart in a stopped position on the green for the time it takes for a foursome to complete their putts may cause a depression. To avoid this, drive the cart to the edge of the green in a position where you can drive to your ball in a straight line as soon as it is your turn to putt. This will speed play and help you line the putt properly and see the breaks.
Never turn the cart sharply on the green. Always go in a straight line to avoid tire damage. If you need to turn to position yourself for a putt, drive off the green and make the turn there.
To avoid bringing the cart close to the pin and speeding up play, you can make the long putts yourself and let one of your playing partners finish off the hole with putts under five feet or so. This will give you a great incentive to practice your long putts!
As soon as you have putted, drive off the green in the shortest straight line. This may mean reversing your original path on to the green.