Bored with golf carts? Try a Golfboard

By Al TaysNovember 6, 2015, 7:00 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - The contrast couldn't be more striking. Dubsdread Golf Course in Orlando, Fla., dates back to 1924. Its website says it's the "oldest public layout in the central Florida region." Ben Hogan won a Tour event here in 1945. Yet here we are, general manager Rodney Reifsnider and myself, sitting in an empty but soon-to-be-bustling dining room talking about something that's more "Back to the Future" than "Follow the Sun."

We're talking about Golfboards.

Basically, they're motorized skateboards with a handle to which you attach your golf bag. They debuted at the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show, where they were named Best New Product. They're available as alternatives to traditional riding golf carts at more than 100 courses, including Dubsdread, which has had its fleet since late 2014.

Dubsdread is managed by Billy Casper Golf, which has a partnership with Sol Boards, manufacturer of Golfboards. Late last year, Billy Casper Golf regional managers had a chance to try out Golfboards at Dubsdread.

Reifsnider, 41, admits he was skeptical: "I had zero interest in it, honestly, at the time."

But the Golfboards came, and Reifsnider's preconceived notions about them went.

"It's funny, we really thought this was going to be geared strictly toward the younger demographic," Reifsnider said. And a lot of young players - male and female - do give the Golfboards a try. But the average age of the golfer who returns to use the Golfboard more than once "is definitely over 50.

"A lot of them, they grew up walking, they miss being able to walk but the body just won't let them do it anymore. The Golfboard allows them to stand up, get around quicker than on a golf cart because you can go to your ball; you don't have to go watch Bob hit his shot."

Groups of seniors play at Dubsdread on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Reifsnider said, "and every Tuesday and Thursday, all the boards are gone." Among women players, there is one group where "the average age is definitely in the 60s, we've got a couple of those ladies who like them." Another women's group has an average age in the 40s, Reifsnider said, "and they absolutely love them."

Golfboards are the brainchild of Don Wildman, a West Coast-based entrepreneur and fitness fanatic. An avid surfer and golfer with homes in Hawaii and Malibu, Wildman sought to bring the feel of riding a surfboard to a golf course. He persuaded a buddy, legendary surfer Laird Hamilton, to get involved with the project. They experimented with electric skateboards, eventually coming up with the Golfboard. Early designs did not have a handle - Golfboard calls it a stability bar - to hold on to; riders simply slung their golf bags over their shoulder.

Golfboard president Jeff Dowell's first experience with the product was with the early, handle-less model. "I fell off more than once," he said. "I had a pretty steep learning curve. But I stuck with it and learned to ride well enough not to embarrass myself."

The addition of the stability bar gave more balance-challenged riders something to hold on to and a place to secure the golf bag. It was a game-changer.

"We've had phenomenal success this year," said Dowell, 56, a former assistant pro at famed Oak Hill. "We're in over 100 courses now, throughout the world, mostly in the U.S. but also in the U.K. and Australia and Switzerland. We have over 1,000 boards installed and up and running at courses."

At Dubsdread, the number of Golfboards is flexible and cost $5 above the walking fee. They started out with eight, cut back to four in the summer, when the demand drops off, but are considering going to 12 or 16 during the winter, when they frequently conduct tournaments. The staff would use the Golfboards to roam the course as needed, leaving more conventional carts for players.

And speaking of "roaming the course," Golfboards can operate in a lot of areas where carts can't (or aren't allowed to). "They have very low impact on the turf," Reifsnider said. "When we're moist and cart paths only, the boards usually can still go out in the fairways and even up fairly close to the greens because they don't do that much damage."

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"1266286","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"233","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"480"}}]]'s Nick Menta (left) and Jason Crook give Golfboards a try.

What is it like to ride a Golfboard for the first time? "People say two things when they get off a Golfboard for the first time that they've ever ridden it," Dowell said. "'That's the most fun I've ever had on a golf course,' and 'That was a lot easier than I ever could have imagined it was going to be.'"

Three staffers gave the boards a try recently at Dubsdread. Jason Crook, 27, and Nick Menta, 26, rode them for most of the round, while the author, older than both of them put together, took turns on a couple of holes. The reviews:

• Dubsdread requires you to watch an instructional video and sign a waiver before taking a Golfboard. The video helped.

• We also were given a few minutes of personal instruction in the practice area before we set out onto the course. Also helpful.

• The author, who has leg and foot issues, was jealous of the Golfboards' ability to drive closer to tees and greens than even his handicapped-flag-equipped cart.

• Standing up through an entire round won't be a problem if you're used to walking 18 holes, but if you regularly ride in a cart, your legs are going to feel it. Reifsnider suggested bringing the kind of fold-out chair you often see spectators using at tournaments. Many models can hang off your golf bag.

• If we had taken three Golfboards and no cart, we wouldn't have had some accessories that cart-riders take for granted, like a small ice-filled cooler to hold drinks, or a sand bottle for divot repair. Reifsnider said those, plus an umbrella holder, are the three suggestions Golfboard renters mention most often. But, he added, "with most groups, there's someone who ends up taking a regular cart."

• Were they fun to ride? Our mutual conclusion was that they probably would be, but it would take a few rounds. Our 20-somethings felt that the concentration required to steer the Golfboard made it more difficult to fully concentrate on their golf games. The author, who has no experience with things like surfboards or skateboards or snowboards that you turn by leaning, was unable to shake a fear of falling flat on his face. In fairness, however, two points should be made: Any activity that involves a learning curve isn't likely to be fun in the beginning, but that doesn't mean it won't be eventually. And the more you do something, the less you have to concentrate on doing it.

So while Golfboards may not be for everyone, they definitely fill a niche. Those who feel comfortable riding them insist they're a blast. The author would like to get beyond the "clenched teeth" stage and prove that "surfing the turf" isn't just kid stuff.

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”