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No motorized carts? Empire State Development, Governor Cuomo send mixed signals to owners, golfers in New York

What’s the deal with motorized carts on local golf courses?

While some have been given the direction that it’s legal under updated guidance from Empire State Development and Governor Andrew Cuomo – that all apparently changed on Monday.

Cuomo was asked by a reporter if motorized carts were legal after a series of newspaper ads from golf courses in Downstate New York said carts were available for sale.

While the Governor was caught off guard by the question – he quickly stated that motorized carts are not permitted. Secretary Melissa DeRosa said civil penalties would apply to courses that sold motorized carts.

However, courses around the Finger Lakes are getting confused by the mixed messaging from Albany. While Gov. Cuomo said motorized carts were not allowed under previous order – Empire State Development told New York State Senator Daphne Jordan that courses could allow carts under certain circumstances.

Sen. Jordan contended that the updated ruling by Empire State Development was ambiguous. She requested an explanation, to which Empire State Development said the following:

“First and as always social distancing protocols and all federal, state and local health and safety guidelines must be adhered to. The new guidance doesn’t prohibit private golf course from allowing people on the course. It also doesn’t prohibit the activities the course ownership can allow on their course. This is being widely interpreted to include golfing… If individuals can access and use carts without the need of course employees than that also should be fine. So, with all the proper social distancing, no employees (other than security and limited grounds keeping) on site, recreational uses on private golf courses, including golf would be in compliance.”

It should be noted that public golf courses were granted operational access in this definition and update, too. Most local counties lifted previous bans on golf, which drew initial criticism for the potential lack of social distancing measures.

It’s unclear if Governor Cuomo, or Empire State Development will be issuing additional guidance on this matter.