Golf carts are a classic part of every golf game and are used globally. They were the first mass-produced electric vehicle ever made. For many kids, they’re also the first experience “driving” while playing golf. In general, they provide a speedy and safe means of transportation when playing, or if used by hotels and communities instead of using a car.
A golf cart is primarily a tool used to transport you around 18 holes of golf efficiently and safely. The classic cart is built low to the ground to create a low center of gravity when turning, to avoid golfers spilling out. Most golf carts are designed to carry two golfers and their bags, though some carts have been modified to seat more passengers. In this case, the cart is likely used as an alternate mode of transportation around a golfing community–as a sales vehicle, perhaps, or as a vehicle to take guests to their room at a resort.
Golf carts keep the pace of play relatively speedy, as golf carts travel more quickly than golfers walk to their balls. This can be a real advantage at a public course, where there are likely to be more players trying to get on the links on a weekend. The top speed for most golf carts is 15 m.p.h.
Golf carts come with one of two engine options: gas or electric. Electric carts require regular recharging, especially overnight, to avoid “short charging” their batteries, limiting long-term life. Gas carts are fueled using normal gasoline.
Golf carts are most often made of a combination of steel plates, rods and tubing. Bodies are composed of aluminum (sheet form), fiberglass or a steel shell. Components may also include plastic or metal parts, but these are often bought from other vendors and added after the initial manufacture. Carts include at least two seats, typically as a bench. The manufacture includes a basic suspension, rubber tires, seat cushions covered in a weather-proof fabric such as vinyl, a steering assembly and a motor with the accompanying drive train and brakes.
The cart’s design includes multiple golf-focused options for the player; the middle of the steering wheel often includes a clipboard used for score cards and carts come with ball holders, drink holders, enclosures to protect against inclement weather and storage space for equipment.
Do not exceed the weight restrictions on a golf cart, as it is designed to carry up to a specific weight, depending on the model. Most golf carts will have a placard on the cart itself that states the maximum weight capacity; make sure you have included all of the equipment you have loaded on to the cart in the total.
Many people believe that golf carts are a safe and legal alternate from of transport, but this is not always the case. Most communities designed around golf courses allow golf carts on the road and tolerate the reduced speed that might impact other traffic. However, golf carts are not street legal in most states, unless they have been modified to include headlights, brake lights and are licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Check your state’s DMV prior to entering a public roadway on your golf cart.
When using a cart, you typically pay a rental fee and keep a golf cart for the duration of your round of golf, off-loading your equipment at the end of play. The cart is then returned to the owner of the course. Some golf carts, though, are a golfer’s personal property, especially if that golfer is an avid player. In this case, the cart may be kept after play and return home with the golfer, unless the cart is stored on site at the course.
Golf carts were first invented in the 1950s. Merle Williams, using his knowledge of electric cars spurred by gas rationing during WWII, developed the first model in Southern California. Later models, developed by companies such as Harley-Davidson, were powered by gas. In 1953, only the players at very exclusive clubs used golf carts, but by 1959 they had increased in popularity. Caddies are available at private clubs and some players prefer to carry their own bags or use a hand-drawn cart, but the golf cart is the preferred choice for most golfers.