Am I ready for a motorized golf cart?
Have you ever been ready to treat yourself to a fabulous Christmas present you deserve only to have your brain say, “but, but, but….”
What source allowed the brain to ruin such wonderful dreams?
Yes, that’s me I’m talking about, currently weighing the pros and cons of buying an electric golf cart, or as the Brits would say, trolley. Over the years I’ve had thoughts about purchasing this luxury item, especially following those rare golf rounds where I’ve either had a caddy or my bag was strapped to a cart while the other guy drove and I walked.
The inspiration hit me again while playing my last round of the year at Tangle Creek. My buddy drove with my bag firmly attached and I walked the entire course tee to green on a beautiful warm sunny November day. My other two playing partners used push carts, poor buggers; oh, that’s usually me! I was in absolute heaven strutting down the middle of the fairway totally unfettered, no cart to push or pull, grunting and sweating totally absent.
After striping my approach from 150 yards onto the green I walked freely with only putter in hand, relaxed while surveying the contours of the green. Ah, this is truly what it feels like to be a tour pro, just you and your putter, gallery on either side waving and applauding. (A good imagination is healthy). With a relaxed mind and body I was fully able to focus on the putt and made the birdie. Following that bird, the idea gnawed at me for the rest of the day; “What are you waiting for, just go ahead and buy the damn thing. You’ll feel like a tour pro every time and play better golf.”
I do have to admit my surprise that these robots are not more popular, at least in North America. I only noticed a handful on the links this summer even though it seems that a growing number of golfers are discussing the merits of ownership. There certainly are more suppliers offering a greater variety of carts with improved batteries, remote controls, lighter weights and better fold up mechanisms. A seemingly negative perception I get from the golfing community is that electronic push carts make a golfer appear old. How can you buy this argument when golfers of all ages rent riding carts so frequently? Many golfers who rent riding carts tell me they would like to walk but have some type of injury that prevents them from pushing a heavy cart over 18 holes. Electronic carts could solve that issue.
In an attempt to discover why these motorized caddies seem to make sense but are so rare on the landscape, I will show you my pro and con list. As in many desires in life economics plays a role in decision making. These caddies are not cheap. For about $700 you can buy a unit with a bulky frame, old style lead-acid battery that weighs a ton and doesn’t last very long. And you have to guide it by pressing buttons on the handle. That doesn’t sound like freedom to me.
For $1500 I can buy a machine with a remote control that will guide my boy down the fairway and has a lithium battery that is very lightweight and can last up to 5 years. They say it will hold its charge from 27 to 36 holes. The newer models are also sturdier, lighter and fold up into the car easier than older models.
For many people we are talking about a pretty big investment. On the other hand if one regularly rents a cart, they can be even in about two years with money saved by not renting. The cart I really love follows you wherever you go, just like a real caddy but without the bad jokes. Price tag, a mere $3,000. My son bought a used Dodge Caravan for half that, air conditioning and CD player included. Out of my league and I suspect many leagues. Perhaps I can get a loan and buy the mid range model.
However, when we want something really badly, price and certain inconveniences can be overlooked. I have another underlying concern though, possibly similar to your own; will ceasing to push a cart for a round of golf begin to weaken me both physically and mentally? Am I ready to begin the process of getting lazier as time goes on? As a 61 year young guy I am increasingly aware of my mortality and the importance of physical fitness. Years ago I told friends that I plan to play hockey and squash into my 80’s. For the moment I’m on track and remain fit. I do not have wheels on my hockey bag; I don’t use drive thrus, elevators, or automatic doors when there’s an alternative. It seems that everything in life today is designed to weaken the human being. I resist. I also know that when I feel fit my mental outlook and general sense of peace and happiness are very positive. My fear is that an electronic caddy could initiate a lifestyle that will promote laziness and perhaps the beginning of the end. I apologize for the unnecessary drama.
I’m not quite ready to make a decision to purchase this toy, but as I think about those young seniors like Tom Watson and Bernhard Langer still competing, walking crisply towards their ball, no bag or cart in sight, at least I know there are products on the market that can make me feel like one of them.
I’ll continue to dream for now. There are still a few months left before spring, so who knows?