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.
[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://www.alphardgolf.com/shop/duoevo/” oemtext=”Buy it from Alphard” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IJDP93I/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00IJDP93I&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=CHMMJN5CIFX3VYGG”]
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.
[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://bagboycompany.com/c3-push-cart-three-wheel-push-cart-bag-boy-push-cart.html” oemtext=”Buy it from BagBoy” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EUZIE72/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00EUZIE72&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=EFZFFZWIJYMX7IPG”]
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://www.clicgear.com/pushcarts/model-3.5/” oemtext=”Buy it from Clicgear” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00B0NSU4O/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00B0NSU4O&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=3ONYYMQS4QRXKOZE”]
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.
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Top-3 men’s golf polos at the 2018 PGA Fashion Show in Vegas
GolfWRX’s fashion expert Jordan Madley picks her top-3 favorite men’s polo shirts from the recent 2018 PGA Fashion Show in Las Vegas. Enjoy the video below!
I tried the great Golfboarding experiment… here’s how it went
Corica Park Golf Course is not exactly the first place you’d expect to find one of the most experimental sports movements sweeping the nation. Sitting on a pristine swath of land along the southern rim of Alameda Island, deep in the heart of the San Francisco Bay, the course’s municipal roots and no-frills clubhouse give it an unpretentious air that seems to fit better with Sam Snead’s style of play than, say, Rickie Fowler’s.
Yet here I am, one perfectly sunny morning on a recent Saturday in December planning to try something that is about as unconventional as it gets for a 90-year-old golf course.
It’s called Golfboarding, and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an amalgam of golf and skateboarding, or maybe surfing. The brainchild of surfing legend Laird Hamilton — who can be assumed to have mastered, and has clearly grown bored of, all normal sports — Golfboarding is catching on at courses throughout the country, from local municipal courses like Corica Park to luxury country clubs like Cog Hill and TPC Las Colinas. Since winning Innovation Of the Year at the PGA Merchandising Show in 2014, Golfboards can now be found at 250 courses and have powered nearly a million rounds of golf already. Corica Park currently owns eight of them.
The man in pro shop gets a twinkle in his eyes when our foursome tells him we’d like to take them out. “Have you ridden them before?” he asks. When we admit that we are uninitiated, he grins and tells us we’re in for a treat.
But first, we need to sign a waiver and watch a seven-minute instructional video. A slow, lawyerly voice reads off pedantic warnings like “Stepping on the golfboard should be done slowly and carefully” and “Always hold onto the handlebars when the board is in motion.” When it cautions us to “operate the board a safe distance from all…other golfboarders,” we exchange glances, knowing that one of us will more than likely break this rule later on.
Then we venture outside, where one of the clubhouse attendants shows us the ropes. The controls are pretty simple. One switch sends it forward or in reverse, another toggles between low and high gear. To make it go, there’s a throttle on the thumb of the handle. The attendant explains that the only thing we have to worry about is our clubs banging against our knuckles.
“Don’t be afraid to really lean into the turns,” he offers. “You pretty much can’t roll it over.”
“That sounds like a challenge,” I joke. No one laughs.
On a test spin through the parking lot, the Golfboard feels strong and sturdy, even when I shift around on it. It starts and stops smoothly with only the slightest of jerks. In low gear its top speed is about 5 mph, so even at full throttle it never feels out of control.
The only challenge, as far as I can tell, is getting it to turn. For some reason, I’d expected the handlebar to offer at least some degree of steering, but it is purely for balance. The thing has the Ackerman angle of a Mack Truck, and you really do have to lean into the turns to get it to respond. For someone who is not particularly adept at either surfing or skateboarding, this comes a little unnaturally. I have to do a number of three-point turns in order to get back to where I started and make my way over to the first tee box.
We tee off and climb on. The fairway is flat and wide, and we shift into high gear as we speed off toward our balls. The engine had produced just the faintest of whirrs as it accelerated, but it is practically soundless as the board rolls along at full speed. The motor nevertheless feels surprisingly powerful under my feet (the drivetrain is literally located directly underneath the deck) as the board maintains a smooth, steady pace of 10 mph — about the same as a golf cart. I try making a couple of S curves like I’d seen in the video and realize that high-speed turning will take a little practice for me to get right, but that it doesn’t seem overly difficult.
Indeed, within a few holes I might as well be Laird himself, “surfing the earth” from shot to shot. I am able to hold the handlebar and lean way out, getting the board to turn, if not quite sharply, then at least closer to that of a large moving van than a full-sized semi. I take the hills aggressively (although the automatic speed control on the drivetrain enables it to keep a steady pace both up and down any hills, so this isn’t exactly dangerous), and I speed throughout the course like Mario Andretti on the freeway (the company claims increased pace-of-play as one of the Golfboard’s primary benefits, but on a Saturday in the Bay Area, it is impossible avoid a five-hour round anyway.)
Gliding along, my feet a few inches above the grass, the wind in my face as the fairways unfurl below my feet, it is easy to see Golfboards as the next evolution in mankind’s mastery of wheels; the same instincts to overcome inertia that brought us bicycles, rollerblades, scooters, skateboards, and more recent inventions such as Segways, Hoverboards and Onewheels are clearly manifest in Golfboards as well. They might not offer quite the same thrill as storming down a snowy mountainside or catching a giant wave, but they are definitely more fun than your standard golf cart.
Yet, there are obvious downsides as well. The attendant’s warning notwithstanding, my knuckles are in fact battered and sore by the time we make the turn, and even though I rearrange all my clubs into the front slots of my bag, they still rap my knuckles every time I hit a bump. Speaking of which, the board’s shock absorber system leaves something to be desired, as the ride is so bumpy that near the end I start to feel as if I’ve had my insides rattled. Then there is the unforgivable fact of its missing a cup holder for my beer.
But these are mere design flaws that might easily be fixed in the next generation of Golfboards. (A knuckle shield is a must!) My larger problem with Golfboards is what they do to the game itself. When walking or riding a traditional cart, the moments in between shots are a time to plan your next shot, or to chat about your last shot, or to simply find your zen out there among the trees and the birds and the spaciousness of the course. Instead, my focus is on staying upright.
Down the stretch, I start to fade. The muscles in my core have endured a pretty serious workout, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to muster the strength for my golf swing. It is no coincidence that my game starts to unravel, and I am on the way to one of my worst rounds in recent memory.
Walking off the 18th green, our foursome agrees that the Golfboards were fun — definitely worth trying — but that we probably wouldn’t ride them again. Call me a purist, but as someone lacking Laird Hamilton’s physical gifts, I’m happy to stick to just one sport at a time.
Review: The QOD Electric Caddy
If you want an electric golf caddy that doesn’t require that you wear a sensor or carry a remote — one that will be reliable and allow you to focus on your game, and not your cart — then the Australian-manufactured QOD is worth checking out.
The QOD (an acronym for Quality of Design and a nod to its four wheels) is powered by a 14.4-volt lithium battery, good for 36 holes or more on a single charge. It has nine different speeds (with the fastest settings moving closer to jogging velocity) so the QOD can handle your ideal pace, whether that be a casual stroll or a more rapid clip around the course.
The QOD is also built to last. Its injection-molded, aircraft-grade aluminum frame has no welded joints. Steel bolts and locking teeth take care of the hinging points. The battery and frame are both guaranteed for three full years. If you need a new battery after the three-year window, the folks at QOD will replace it at cost.
Its front-wheel suspension gives the QOD a smooth ride down the fairway, and the trolley is easy to navigate with a gentle nudge here and there. The QOD is always in free-wheel mode, so it is smooth and easy to maneuver manually in tight spaces and around the green.
The caddy also features three timed interval modes for situations where you might wish to send it up ahead on its own: when helping a friend find a lost ball or when you will be exiting on the far side of the green after putting, for example. The clip below includes a look at the caddy in timed mode.
Another area where the QOD excels is in its small size and portability. When folded, it measures a mere 17-inches wide, 15-inches deep and 12-inches tall, making it the smallest electric caddy on the market.
Folks Down Under have been enjoying the QOD for some time, but it wasn’t until a few years ago when Malachi McGlone was looking for a way to continue walking the course without putting undue strain on an injured wrist that the QOD found U.S. fairways. After first becoming a satisfied customer, McGlone convinced CEO Collin Hiss, who developed the product and oversees its production in Australia, to allow him to distribute and service the QOD here in the states.
The QOD has no self-balancing gyroscope, bluetooth sensor or remote control. Bells and whistles just aren’t its thing — though it does have a USB port for cell phone charging that can come in handy. However, if you are looking for a no-fuss workhorse to move your bag down the fairway, the QOD should be on your radar.
The 2018 model has begun shipping and will be on sale at $1,299 for a limited time. It normally retails at $1,499.
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