golf cart

How fast can a golf cart go? Everything You Should Know About Golf Cart Speeds

Golf carts serve as efficient and environmentally friendly transportation for golfers on the course, as well as utility vehicles for a variety of purposes. With their growing popularity outside the golf course, many people wonder how fast a golf cart can go. 

Understanding golf cart speeds promotes safe and responsible operation for a variety of makes, models, and applications. This article investigates all aspects of the speeds of these versatile vehicles.

The top speed of a golf cart is determined by its purpose, power source, size, weight, and manufacturer-specified speed governor or speed controller settings. Speeds vary greatly, from under 10 mph for small solar-powered carts to 20+ mph for large gas-powered carts.

Individual cart speeds vary, but they differ significantly from low-speed vehicle (LSV) speeds of 30 mph or more.

Golf courses frequently enforce speed limits of 15 mph. Learning more about speed differences and speed control mechanisms can help operators better understand critical safety and responsibility issues.

Speed Capabilities By Power Source

A golf cart’s power source has a direct impact on its speed. Most traditional carts have electric or gas engines.However, alternate power sources are becoming more popular as environmentally friendly alternatives. Power sources have different maximum speeds:

Electric Golf Carts

Electric golf cart speeds typically range from under 10 mph to 19 mph. Electric engines require less maintenance and run quieter than gas engines. Courses with noise restrictions frequently require electric carts.

Gas-powered golf carts

Gas-powered golf carts provide more power, with speeds ranging from 10 to over 20 mph. However, gas carts require more maintenance, such as oil changes, and produce more noise and emissions. Improved muffler designs allow some modern gas carts to compete with electric vehicles in terms of quietness.

Solar-powered golf carts

Solar-powered golf carts are powered solely by on-board solar panels. Speeds are limited to 10 mph or less due to battery and solar power generation constraints. While solar power reduces environmental impact, it has lower speed and range than electric and gas carts.

Speed Capabilities Based on Size and Weight

The size and weight of a golf cart affect its speed. Larger carts with larger engines and batteries enable faster speeds. Typical maximum speeds according to cart size:

  • Small golf carts: less than 12 mph.
  • Mid-sized golf carts, 12 to 15 mph.
  • Full-sized golf carts: 15 to 20+ mph

Lighter weight also allows for faster acceleration and speeds. As a result, heavier 6-passenger carts with similar engine sizes may have lower maximum speeds than lighter 2-passenger carts. Customization increases speed through improved engines, longer wheelbases for stability, and lightweight components or bodies, but it frequently exceeds intended golf cart applications.

Speed Control Mechanisms

Responsible golf courses and cart manufacturers use speed governors and controllers to limit speeds. These mechanisms automatically regulate maximum speeds for safety and course rule compliance.

Speed Governors

Mechanical speed governors physically limit engine rpms. As engine rpms approach their maximum, governors restrict airflow or fuel flow. This prevents rpms from exceeding safe levels. Governors provide dependable speed control but limit speed adjustments.

Speed Controllers

Programmable speed controllers use electronic components to limit engine power and rpms. Speed controllers provide greater flexibility by allowing for programming changes to set custom speed thresholds. However, improperly adjusted settings result in exceeding safe operating parameters.

Intended Uses versus Actual Capabilities

While most golf carts operate within speed limits for their intended purposes, their true capabilities can exceed speed expectations and ensure safe operations. Several factors affect instances of exceeding maximum speeds:


As previously stated, engine, wheelbase, and component customization enables golf carts to reach higher speeds than originally designed. However, customization reduces stability and control at higher speeds, making safe operation difficult.

Poor Maintenance

Lack of maintenance also causes some golf carts to exceed their speed limits due to deteriorated or compromised speed control mechanisms. For example, worn mechanical governors lose precision in limiting rpms, allowing faster speeds.

Intentional Overrides

Some cart owners purposefully override speed control mechanisms by making non-standard modifications to achieve faster speeds. However, overrides disable critical safety controls, making driving at higher speeds dangerous for these inherently unstable vehicles.

Downhill Travel

Downhill golf cart speeds increase rapidly, outpacing momentum-based speed control capabilities. Unchecked downhill acceleration causes loss of control, even when braking. Excessive speed downhill is one of the most dangerous speed issues.

Safety and Responsibility Considerations

While exact maximum golf cart speeds are secondary to responsible operations, understanding speed capabilities and controls reinforces safety and duty principles. Owners and operators should adhere to the following general guidelines:

Follow course/property speed limits

Golf cart operators must adhere to all posted speed limits on golf courses and other private or public properties. On level ground, the typical speed limit is around 15 mph. But hilly layouts and heavy traffic necessitate even lower limits.

Adjust to Conditions

Weather conditions, terrain, and passenger loads necessitate additional speed adjustments to ensure safe travel. Rain or snow reduce traction and visibility, requiring slower speeds. Even when driving within speed limits, hills and uneven terrain necessitate slower speeds. Furthermore, heavier passenger loads have an impact on stability at high speeds.

Maintain Speed Control Mechanisms

Consistent golf cart maintenance ensures that speed control mechanisms such as governors and controllers continue to function properly in accordance with manufacturer specifications and course speed enforcement. Stafford

Avoid customizing for speed

The temptation to customize carts for faster speeds increases the risk of instability, loss of control, and exceeding safety factors across all design elements. Customization also voids manufacturer warranties because it operates outside of specified parameters.

Prevent unintended drivers.

Responsible owners use key controls and drive disabling mechanisms when the vehicle is not in use to prevent unintentional drivers, particularly children. Unintentional and unauthorized drivers frequently lack safety knowledge and awareness of proper speed control.


Finally, understanding the speeds at which golf carts are designed, configured, and governed based on intended duty cycles is more important than knowing how fast they can go. While there is still a desire to push the limits through customization and intentional circumvention of speed controls, restraint ultimately serves the safety and responsibility of operators, passengers, and the environment. 

Maintaining speeds as specified, accounting for terrain, weather, and loads, avoiding excessive customization, and disabling carts when unsupervised, followed by regular maintenance, all contribute to safe, sustainable golf cart operation within the designed speed capabilities. 

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