It’s a simple question but one that can get emotions riding high. Here’s our take on this controversial piece of golf trolley etiquette

It looked just as good as we’d imagined. Green, rolled like a carpet, and without blemish – there are few places to match the feeling you get when you spy the first tee on the Old Course at St Andrews.

It was so perfect I felt guilty just trudging my size nines across it and so we carefully parked up our trolleys by the entrance to the tee and prepared to pull out a club.

The starter looked at us a bit quizzically and then said the words I never thought I’d hear: “It’s OK lads, you can bring your trolleys on here.”

And so we did. But it just felt odd. We’ve become so accustomed to leaving our trolleys as far away from precious turf as possible that when beckoned to bring it on it felt somehow illicit.

Former Open champion Paul Lawrie found himself at the centre of a minor social media storm in the summer of 2021 when he posted a video of himself taking on the famous Postage Stamp at Royal Troon.

Except it wasn’t the quality of his shot that fanned the flames rather than his trolley loitering in the background.

Speaking on the From the Clubhouse podcast, Lawrie said: “A guy put a comment saying, ‘Trolleys shouldn’t be on the tee – that’s terrible etiquette.’ I don’t know about you but a trolley on a tee is not something that’s going to change golf. It’s not something I would carp on to somebody about. My trolley is always on the tee when I play golf.”

So what’s the correct approach to golf trolley etiquette? How can you stay out of trouble?

Lawrie felt trolleys didn’t cause any damage on a tee. I’d image there are few greenkeepers in some wetter parts of England that would strongly disagree with that assessment.

But the European Tour legend, who was talking about the overall mentality we had to remove from golf, then said what is basically the answer in this situation. “If some clubs don’t let you do that, that’s up to them,” he added. “No problem.”

Golf trolley etiquette rules

While there’s nothing specific in the Rules of Golf, it is an unwritten rule that you steer your trolley on a wide berth – it’s usually found on a club’s websites or posted on their notice boards.

For those that enforce it, particularly at this time of year, studies have shown that trolleys and carts can cause damage to grass on golf courses and can compact the soil as they move across it.

There are other clubs, though, who are more relaxed, whose turf is a bit more resilient, and who are happy for you to wheel away at your leisure.

If you’re in doubt, it’s probably better to stay on the cautious side and keep clear of the tees or, of course, you can always ask.

What do you think about golf trolley etiquette? Is it fine to wheel it onto a tee, or should they be nowhere near such a prepared surface? Let me know with a tweet.

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 23 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former captain and committee member, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the national Tournament Administrators and Referee's Seminar. He has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying and the PGA Fourball Championship. A member of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap.

Handicap: 10.9

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