Of course, the 2018 PGA Show had enormous glittery displays from the big boys of the golf cart business: Club Car, E-Z-Go, Yamaha. Their two passenger carts with varying levels of accessories were ubiquitous across the Show floor, just as they are ubiquitous across America’s golf courses.
But the 2018 Show also brought to market a new wave of on-course transportation. Much of it is built around the idea of one-vehicle-per-player, which should speed up play, lower golf course wear-and-tear, and make riding a lot more fun.
Golf Course Surfing
In 2016, the GolfBoard was the big talk of the Show. This no-seat electric scooter-board is steered by shifting your weight from side to side just like you would a snowboard or surfboard. The company’s presence remains in 2018, so I took a GolfBoard for a test ride.
It only takes a couple seconds to get a feel for steering and stopping, and it feels good to stand up straight while moving. But the reality of the GolfBoard is that it will appeal primarily to athletic, coordinated people; it could be an accident waiting to happen on senior mornings or in the beer leagues. And a GolfBoard is expensive, too, starting at $6,500 each.
Lower on the rider learning curve are two new electric “scooter” options introduced at the Show. If you can ride a bike, you can ride a scooter. But the dorky word “scooter” might be a bit misleading, as both brands have more of a “golf course motorcycle” vibe. And oddly, the two companies names and products are incredibly similar: Fat Tire Scooters and Phat Golf Scooters.
Both brands of scooters look cool, travel at about 13-15 mph on “golf course setting”, and have wide tires that should work great on a golf course. Both are solid and well-constructed. Both have removable batteries, meaning the bike can go for a second 18 hole round just by switching out the battery — no re-charge down-time. The kick-stand setup of the Fat Tire scooter looked like it would work better on mushy turf conditions, a real-world advantage.
The Fat Tire scooter is priced at $2,699 golf-ready, while Phat Golf Scooter is a bit less at $2,098 ready for golf (i.e. with the bag rack added-on).
And since the speed on these bikes can be restricted by the owner, motorcycle racing around the course should be kept to a minimum.
Single Rider 4-Wheelers
Moving up the ladder to the next level offering is the four-wheeled single rider vehicle. A solid, 4-wheeled cart is a safer alternative to riding a board or scooter. Of course, there were a number of traditional-looking single rider golf carts available from various vendors at the 2018 PGA Show. But for a golf course owner looking to differentiate offerings, why go that route?
One new option is a hybrid 4-wheeler that gets started by pedaling, and can be assisted by pedaling. The Gohemian Turf Cruiser is a motorized four-wheeled bike that actually has some kick to it once it gets started. A player could very easily use the motor for 90% of the power, but can adjust the tension for more of a workout if desired. It’s an interesting option especially for players who want the exercise, and it costs just a little more than the scooters above.
But for a course looking to go all-in on single rider vehicles, check out the coolest looking 4-wheel golf cart ever:
Ellwee is a Swedish company that has proto-typed an incredible-looking 4-wheel single rider golf cart. And Ellwee still calls them carts, too, even though they look like futuristic quad-sports.
Their cart is not yet in production, but the company is taking pre-orders. The price is higher than a scooter but less than a board, starting at $4,900. (That’s 39,900 Swedish Kronas for those of you who are looking to pre-order).
The Future of Golf Carts?
Golf courses across Northeast Ohio have barns filled with the traditional 2-passenger, 4-wheeled carts. Will any of them change out their fleet to boards, scooters or futuristic four-wheelers? Man, let’s hope…