Stand-up GolfBoard cuts time on the course
By Jane Gleeson
Most golfers will admit there’s always room for improvement in their game, and the same holds true when it comes to attracting a younger generation to the links. According to the Washington Post, the number of golfers between the ages of 18 and 30 has declined by 35 percent in the last 10 years. Likewise, sales of clubs and golf-related clothing were down 28 percent in 2014 for TaylorMade-Adidas Golf, the world’s largest maker of clubs and clothes.
Oregon-based Sol Boards aims to reverse the lagging interest in the game by upping the cool ante and reducing time on the course with its “Surf the Earth” GolfBoard — a surf-inspired, motorized vehicle that’s half the size of a traditional cart and a lot more fun.
“Hysterical fun” is how Casey Powers describes it. The Michigan-based Boyne Mountain PGA golf professional and his 17-year-old son recently gave the GolfBoard a spin on Boyne Highlands’ Moor Course and likened it to “walking on steroids.”
“We played the back nine in one hour,” Powers says, acknowledging that the game’s long pace-of-play is often an issue with today’s golfers.
This unique way of traversing the links — much like surfing or snowboarding, but easier — is proving to be a welcome solution for golfers who don’t have five hours to spend playing 18 holes.
There’s no doubt the GolfBoard provides a peppier mode of transportation than traditional golf carts — some say it reduces an 18-hole game from five hours to three. That’s because each player rides an individual GolfBoard and can go directly to his or her own ball, says Powers. “There’s more independence. You don’t have to worry about your partners.” Its lighter weight also lets you drive right up onto the greens and closer to your ball than a cart allows.
Powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, GolfBoards are durable and safe and can travel more than 18 holes between charges. Depending on conditions — rider weight, turf conditions, grade, etc. — a GolfBoard can travel 18-plus miles on a single charge. An estimated 100 courses in the United States, Canada and Mexico currently offer the GolfBoard. In addition to two courses at Michigan’s Boyne Highlands, they are available at Polo Fields Golf and Country Club in Ann Arbor.
The GolfBoard is the brainchild of Bally Total Fitness founder Don Wildman and surfing legend Laird Hamilton. The four-wheeled board allows users to turn by simply shifting their body weight in a way that mimics snowboarding or surfing. Advanced technology allows GolfBoarders to customize board settings and configurations to their riding preference. A one-touch stability bar switch allows the driver to adjust speed settings from 6 to 14 mph.
John Myers, head golf pro at Boyne Highlands, says the GolfBoard is catching on with players since arriving in July. “Golfers love the experience,” he says, pointing out how easy the GolfBoard is to maneuver once you get used to the feel. “It’s a very stable ride and easier to use than a Segway.”
The biggest drawback Myers sees with these one-man machines? “GolfBoards don’t allow the side-by-side interaction players get while riding in a golf cart or walking the course.”
Although a speedier way of travel won’t improve anyone’s game, it does give players extra time in the clubhouse to either celebrate their game … or cry into their beer.