April 10, 2016 - 9:00 PM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Golf, at its inception, was a game of physical activity. Hit the ball and walk to find it, sometimes up to 5 miles during an 18-hole round.
The advent of motorized golf carts has limited the amount of exertion mainly to the two or three seconds it takes to swing on each shot. There are a few die-hards who still like to walk — some with pull carts — but the modern version of the game has turned into hit the ball, drive and find it.
That trend has started to change in recent years as golf courses have diversified the way golfers get around, adding an element of fitness and fun to their rounds with snowboard-like carts, mountain bikes and Segways.
"Why go to a gym and run on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike when you can come out to a beautiful golf course and ride a Golfboard or mountain bike?" said Nancy Dickens, director of golf at Westin Kierland Golf Club, which offers Golfboards, Golf Bikes and Segway golf carts. "Golf should be about fitness, not just riding around in a cart."
A few of the alternatives to traditional golf carts:
The most fun you'll ever have playing a round of golf outside of a hole-in-one.
Riding a Golfboard is like carving waves of green fairway between shots.
The board is similar to a snowboard, surfboard or skateboard, only attached to four, 4-inch turf tires and powered by a motor, with the clubs strapped to the front.
The thumb throttle is attached to a handle and has two speeds: low if you want to cruise, high if you want to feel like you're banking moguls.
Though the Golfboard involves a bit of training before heading out, it's relatively easy to pick up — a matter of figuring out just how far to lean to make the board turn (hint: It's more than you think). It's also a decent workout for core muscles with the leaning, twisting and turning to get the board to turn.
The Golfboard was created by Don Wildman, owner of Bally Total Fitness, with the help of his friend, professional surfer and avid golfer Laird Hamilton. It won best new product of the year at the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show and is available at more than 150 golf courses around the world.
"It's just great entertainment between shots," Golfboard's Jim Black said. "People will say, I played (poorly), but that's the most fun I've ever had playing golf."
If you want more of a workout, the Golf Bike is the way to go.
The Golf Bike has wider-than-normal tires for a smooth ride and less impact on the turf, and 14 gears to make it easier to get up and down the hills. It's still a workout, particularly on hilly golf courses, and riders can burn up to 2,000 calories during an 18-hole round, according to the Golf Bike website.
Powering up the hills is worth it for the high-speed barrels down the other side too, particularly if you're rolling down the pristine grass of a golf course fairway.
Unlike the Golfboard, the Golf Bike has its own bag on the back, so you'll have to switch clubs out and bring whatever else you need with you.
The Golf Bike was created by Todd May, a mountain-bike rider and golf product designer, with the first prototype in 2010. The Golf Bike was in the Inventor's Spotlight at the 2013 PGA Show and is available at nearly three dozen courses across the country.
"People grew up riding bicycles, so it's really easy for them," Dickens said. "But it definitely is a fitness activity, so if you go out and ride the bike and play 18 holes you're definitely going to feel it."
Because the two-wheeled Segway is balance-based and has an unfamiliar feel to most people, it takes a little more training — up to an hour at Kierland.
Though riders may have to zigzag up steeper hills, the Segway can take them pretty much anywhere on the course with ease and with a greater sense of freedom than a cart. It also can help with pace of play; riders go to their individual balls instead of driving together in a cart.
The Segway X2 Golf has turf-friendly tires that impact the course much less than a cart. A bag stand is attached to the side for easy access to your clubs. The workout is similar to the Golfboard, with riders engaging their core muscles to manoeuvr the Segway around the course.
The Segway X2 Golf has become available at high-end golf courses around the world since being introduced in 2006.
News from © The Associated Press, 2016