Skip to main content

Hey Golf Boy Wanna Drag

If only there were tail fins.
Then I think I could get over my ambivalence about golf carts ' or golf cars, as the industry likes to call them. Actually, that one little letter of difference might explain the American fascination with what our United Kingdom golf brethren call buggies. (Easier to say if you sneer a bit.)
First, the ambivalence part. As something of a golf purist, I have always thought walking was the preferred way to get to ones ball. So do those U.K. brethren mentioned above; for them, buggies are rare and usually reserved for cases of medical necessity.
But the realities of golf in the United States, particularly the lower half, make golf cars a matter of avoiding medical necessity. That is, if youre going to play in southern heat, you better use one, or risk needing medical help.
And the fact is, many people prefer golf cars. (Ask anyone under the age of 10, whether they play the game or not.) They extend the golfing lives of thousands, and enable play when time is short or muscles ache.
The real objection to cars, when you probe a bit, is the lack of choice at many courses. Some course operators have figured out a way to pay for their fleet and turn a profit besides ' simply make cars mandatory, regardless of conditions or how much ambulatory vigor a customer shows. This annoys thousands. But golfs lure is so strong that they pay up and ride rather than going home.
But none of that is the fault of the golf car companies. The GM and Ford of the industry ' E-Z-GO Textron and Club Car ' both happen to reside a few miles from golfs dream course, Augusta National. E-Z is in Augusta; Club Car is in nearby Martinez.
And to be fair, I shouldnt have called them GM and Ford. The golf car companies are successful. So much so that aside from a couple of also-rans, E-Z and Club Car split about 90 percent of the market between them. They sell a lot overseas, but their most saturated market, in terms of miles driven, is here in the U.S. Which brings us back to why Americans seem to love em so much: Golf cars do so well here not because of forced use or the mythological American laziness. No, its more fundamental than that.
We love cars.
From Henry Ford to Harrison Ford in 'American Graffiti' and beyond, we go ga-ga over any kind of motorized wheeled thing. So do the makers of golf cars. I mean, these people are making A-arm suspensions for a more comfortable ride ' to where your 4-iron landed! And back off Jack; thats on top of a coil-over-spring shock system in the new E-Z-GO RXV model. (Just headed for the showroom, its the follow-up to 1995s TXT model, which will remain in the line.)
Wait a sec; arent golfers just interested in getting in and going? Who cares about features? Evidently, we all do. There are people in Augusta thinking how far you want to reach to get to the passenger ball holder. And I guarantee you, they mentally re-do drawings on their bedroom ceilings as they lay awake at night.
And anecdotal evidence says we like speed. Not just speed (most carts are limited, for safety), but get-up-and-go. If we cant have a turbo, we at least want golf-scale passing power. After all, we could fall out of the zone any time. I need to get to my ball NOW!
Seriously, there is consumer feedback that power pleases. Club Car worked some extra voltage into its Precedent model, and users said they were happy with that. And word is that Hans-Peter Porsche, grandson of the famous German car maker, chose a Precedent to customize because the power (and styling) reminded him of a Cayenne SUV.
But comfort and safety features are never out of mind. Club Cars Precedent features something they call a Monsoon top, which channels rain water away from the occupants, their clubs, the sweater baskets, etc. E-Z-GOs new RXV also has a newly designed roof, the company says, that keeps rain water from getting where it shouldnt. Also key to the new model is an automatic parking brake, which engages whenever the RXV stops, without any separate press-and-lock move required, E-Z-GO says.
I still walk whenever I can ' nothing against golf cars, but I have to use them at home in Florida, and when I travel, I like a change of pace. But when I do use cars, I figure they might as well be comfortable and efficient. So its nice to know theres a whole automotive industry within our industry, always thinking up new ways to get us to our next shot faster, safer, and saner.
Nowabout those tail fins: Ill need the big honkin brake lights too.
Related Links:
  • Adam's Archive
    Email your thoughts to Adam Barr