This story is part of our new “GolfWRX Guides,” a how-to series created by our Featured Writers and Contributors — passionate golfers and golf professionals in search of answers to golf’s most-asked questions.
At one time or another, every golfer who considers himself a foot warrior has an epiphany.
“Why am I carrying this heavy bag when push carts were invented years ago?”
Mine came in the summer of 2014. I had inquired among a number of top junior golfers at an AJGA event about the push carts they used. It was simple, they explained: a golf bag puts so much strain on the shoulders, and so much wear on the back lifting and lowering it. How obvious!
I gazed across the fleet of myriad cart styles and knew that my next big purchase would not be a driver or wedge, but something that would allow me to continue to hit those clubs for years to come. With that in mind, I set out to explore the offerings from the major producers of golf push carts. I expected to find a variety of options, but was not quite prepared for all the accoutrements and perquisites that accentuate today’s carts.
In this guide to purchasing a push cart, I will examine available features and their value. Some of them might seem nuanced, even esoteric, but trust me, they all matter. I had the opportunity to play rounds with seven different carts from four companies. If you want to know more about each push cart I tested, you can see Pros and Cons at the bottom of this story.
Let’s dig in.
Wheels and Parking Brake
What’s your pleasure, three or four wheels? From my perspective, it’s about aesthetics and not practicality. There is no loss of stability, since you’re most likely not playing speed golf and jogging around the course.
Most three-wheeled carts come with a fairly stable front wheel. There is a benefit to having a front-rotational wheel on three-wheeled carts. It is nice for negotiating tight turns or backing up (you just turn around!). Since you have no reverse lights nor video camera to navigate what’s behind you on the cart path, this feature might be desirable. In my situation, I found that leaning any cart back on its rear wheels will allow you to spin in place 180 degrees and reverse direction.
Check the side of your push panel. You have your own parking brake, designed to lock up one or both wheels on those occasions when the terrain is sloped. During my testing, I found that some brake levers are hair-trigger sensitive, and that you might be walking along and suddenly encounter the stab of a stalled cart in your torso. You didn’t intend to stop the cart, but a brush of your hand against the mechanism brought about engagement. Take a close look at the lever and how easily it engages.
Remember what was written earlier about jogging? Some golfers do indeed get out early and play speed golf. Today’s golf carts make that piece viable. It’s not sprint golf, so you don’t need to worry about performance above 10 mph. Take a tour of your course while jogging with both three- and four-wheeled carts to determine which has a better feel for your golfing and jogging gait.
From my perspective, the three-wheeled cart is noticeably better for maneuverability. Each of this type of cart from Sun Mountain and BagBoy, the industry names with greatest recognition, shine forth in the tightest of areas.
The top model for uber maneuverability is the TriSwivel II from BagBoy. The free-spinning front wheel does what no anchored wheel can: move sideways with no forward motion. Three-wheel carts also excel when pace accelerates.
Pouch, Post and Pocket
Standard operating procedure these days is the 3 P’s: a mesh pouch for quick storage and access of items, a post for your umbrella and a pocket for valuables.
You might place a bottle of water, rangefinder, cell phone or money clip in that mesh pocket. Be sure it’s durable, with small gaps in the mesh. It’s intended for easy access and removal, but it still needs to be secure!
Every cart has a post hole for umbrella positioning, should the rains come or a fierce sun beat down too forcefully. You screw the holder into the post hole and insert your umbrella handle into the cone. The only problem that arises is that you have to remove the holder when you break down the cart. If you forget, you’ll hear the crack of stressed plastic.
Each push cart also offers a plastic storage pocket on the top of the cart, just below the handle. Scorecard and valuables might be better off there on windy and rainy days (most pockets have a clip on top for easy scorecard access during calmer weather). If you’re on the progressive side of the cell-phones-on-the-golf-course debate, that plastic storage pocket serves to muffle your ring tone. You’ll hear it and decide whether to answer it, but it won’t blast out across the fairway, causing your partners to muff their shots and throw side-eye your way.
The margin for error in this section is razor-thin, but the left-side location of the umbrella post by the BagBoy genius team gets top marks for Pouch, Post and Pocket.
Pack, Strap and Go
This is the area in which push carts have made the greatest strides. Carts collapse to the size of a dancer in a child’s crouch. Arms and legs reduce like a praying mantis, wheels move inward and the entire assembly lifts lightly and fits snug in a minor section of your car trunk. Here’s the rub: they don’t all collapse in the same fashion and the key is to find the button or handle that puts the dynamo into action, then determine if you have the mental acuity to remember how to do it each time. It’s not always as easy as the marketing materials make it seem. Break down and build up any candidates for purchase to ensure that you’re comfortable with the sequence of steps.
When it comes to securing your bag to the cart, alternatives vary among companies. Some bags come with arms that extend farther around your bag, but no straps to secure your clubs in place. The supposition here is that you don’t intend to move at a rapid pace, so a complete lock-down isn’t necessary. The majority of bags do come with straps at the top and bottom of the cart. They wrap around the bag and connect with velcro, ensuring a secure connection with the push cart.
Among the new breed of carts, there is little measurable difference when it comes to securing the bag to the cart. What discrepancy exists, is related to a crossing strap.
The ClicGear and BagBoy carts come equipped with a strap or flexible plastic band that latches the golf bag to the cart.
The Sun Mountain models utilize a plastic claw that cradles, but does not strap. Both are viable options for keeping the bag on the cart but in the case of that curvy, downhill trek we often encounter between holes, the strap/band wins the day. If you have not a minute to waste, however, the Sun Mountain plastic claw eliminates any foozling with a strap and garners the top prize for Pack, (don’t) Strap and Go!
And then there’s Alphard, an industry name you may not know. It seems that their angle is: why worry about attaching your bag at all? Alphard’s Duo Cart Evolution offers a cart-bag combo and it’s attractive. The unit comes with three top-side pockets for balls, tees, gloves and other items; three right-side pockets; two left-side pockets and one external umbrella barrel for storage of your favorite parasol. The entire unit fits comfortably in the trunk of your car, or stores easily in your club bag room. For sure, you’ll never hear “We can’t find your push cart, Mr. Haverkamp,” or “Rats, I left my cart in the garage.”
If you have your clubs, then you have your bag and cart. When it comes to packing for a trip, though, you’ll have some trouble unless you’ve purchased an extra-wide travel bag.
There are negatives to the Alphard cart. One is in the design of the front wheels. They are much smaller than other carts and don’t rotate from side to side. As a result, maneuverability is restricted. The main shaft of the handle is also not as strong as it might be. There was a noticeable give to it during long, uphill slogs.
Here are the Pros/Cons of the models I tested below. Listed prices are MAP.
BagBoy C3 ($219.95)
- Pros: Secure straps. Handle adjusts to variety of heights/angles. Plenty of storage for tees, scorecard, phone. Light overall weight.
- Cons: Bottle/cup holder somewhat tough to reach.
BagBoy TriSwivel II ($269.95)
- Pros: Reliable straps. Pivoting front wheel is great for maneuverability. Handle adjusts to variety of heights/angles. Deep storage for tees, scorecard, and phone. Easy to lift and push.
- Cons: Inaccessible bottle/cup holder when pushing.
BagBoy Quad Plus ($239.95)
- Pros: Efficient upper/lower straps. Easy-release handle tiny when stored. Healthy amount of storage for tees, scorecard, phone. Lighter than air.
- Cons: Four wheels mean less maneuverability. Storage space for drinks is not easy to reach.
Sun Mountain Speed Cart V1 Sport ($209.99)
- Pros: Cup/bottle holder well-placed below steering handle. Handle moves up and down with ease. Light overall weight. Adjustable angles for umbrella holder. The sealed bearings gave the smoothest and quickest wheel rotation of all tested trolleys.
- Cons: No upper/lower straps. Umbrella holder places barrel in front of face.
Sun Mountain MC3 Micro-Cart ($199.99)
- Pros: Cup/bottle holder offers easy access beneath handle bars. Tiny when stored. Handle adjusts to variety of heights/angles. Light overall weight. Adjustable angles for umbrella holder.
- Cons: No upper/lower straps. Four wheels mean less maneuverability. Umbrella holder places barrel in front of face. Small amount of storage for tees, balls, phone.
ClicGear Model 3.5+ ($220)
- Pros: Upper/lower straps. Light overall weight.
- Cons: A bit difficult to break down. Umbrella holder places barrel in front of face. Bag straps a bit difficult to adjust and secure.
Alphard Duo Cart Evolution ($399.99)
- Pros: One unit instead of two. Changeable external skin. Massive amounts of storage in bag.
- Cons: Tiny wheels mean limited maneuverability. Heavy and not as durable a product other products (snapped handle barrel in first round). Weight-forward technology is balanced less than other configurations.