Golf is a great sport for all ages and abilities, and the numbers speak for themselves. According to the National Golf Foundation, more than 500 million rounds of golf have been played in the U.S. each of the past four years.

That includes a record 531 million rounds played in 2023, surpassing the previous high of 529 million that had been set in 2021.

Anyone who has spent any time on the golf course knows that you can expect all levels of golfers to be out there at any given time. The golfers range from serious, experienced players who rarely hit a bad shot down to the loud groups of golfers who usually spend a large part of their day looking for bad shots in the woods while taking full advantage of the drink cart.  That's usually the group I'm in.

In my defense, golfing is something I only do a handful of times a year and when I'm out there, it's usually with a group of old friends I rarely see so we treat it like a party.

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I have friends who are really good at the game, but most are like me and hit a handful of good shots during a round, which are countered by a lot of unspeakably bad shots. I'll even admit that over the years I've lost a couple of clubs after I threw them high into trees in disgust. Those aren't proud moments.

Since there is a large number of recreational golfers on a course each day, most golf courses do their best to provide fun, including food and drinks in the clubhouse and even a drink cart that roams the course selling beer, wine, and cocktails to golfers in carts and on foot. It can be a lot of fun and most assume that as long as you follow the rules of the game and the course, you can't get into any trouble. However, that's not necessarily true.


When Golf Can Get You Into Legal Trouble In Minnesota

For recreational golfers, drinking is simply a part of the overall golfing experience. However, that can lead to legal trouble when a golfer becomes legally drunk and gets behind the wheel of a golf cart.

Minnesota laws clearly state that it's illegal to drive a golf cart while drinking and you could be arrested and charged with a DUI if caught driving a golf cart while under the influence.

This is because golf carts are self-propelled and are therefore considered motor vehicles. The same applies to electric, gas, solar, or any other vehicle that is not propelled by the rider. If you're legally drunk on a golf course, you're only safe from a DUI if you're on foot.


Does It Matter If You're Golfing On A Private Course?

This applies to both public golf courses and private. Simply stated, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while impaired if you are anywhere within Minnesota. Regardless of the location, a person driving or operating a motor vehicle drunk is considered a menace and a hazard to society.

RELATED: Is Driving Naked In Minnesota Or Wisconsin Illegal?

Police officers aren't out patrolling on golf courses and pulling carts over on the fairway, but if an intoxicated golf cart driver were to hurt other golfers, themselves, or cause damage to the course, the authorities would likely get involved and sobriety would be checked.

Minnesota Impaired Driving Penalties

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, everyone should be aware of the following:

  • Minnesota's legal alcohol-concentration driving limit is 0.08, but motorists can be arrested for DWI at lower levels.
  • The consequences for driving impaired will vary for each DWI offender, but a typical penalty for a first-time offender is potential jail time and loss of license for a minimum of 30 days up to a year.
  • Costs can be as high as $20,000 when factoring in court costs, legal fees, and increased insurance premiums.

READ NOW: Are These Really The 10 Snobbiest Cities In Minnesota?

The moral of the story is to get out and golf and have fun, but if you plan on driving a golf cart, pay attention to how many visits you make to the drink cart. If you want to tie one on, don't drive the cart, and have a safe ride home. Oh, and don't throw a golf club into a tree in anger, they don't always come back down.

LOOK: Here are the 10 US golf destinations with the most courses per capita

Discover where you can find the best access in the country for your pick of courses, the unique terrain that lends itself to world-class golf, and what makes select clubs noteworthy.

Gallery Credit: Michael Leonard

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