In 1947, Golfdom magazine opined that “a player will timidly try one and may feel a little self-conscious … but then he finds himself fresher and feeling better … His shoulder does not ache and his scorecard shows better results.”
Call them push carts, pull carts or, as they are commonly known in Britain, trolleys. But no matter what you call them, Golfdom’s observation rings even truer today.
A more recent article, like seven decades more recent, reaffirms that.
In 2016, writing on the website MyTPI.com, Dr. Josh Nelson reported that a study by Dr. Neil Wolkodoff, medical director of the Colorado Center for Health and Sports Science, found that golfers who walked and carried their bag for nine holes burned only three more calories than those who used a trolley. The study also determined that golfers who carry increase the risk of back, shoulder and ankle injuries.
> A good walk made simple
Again, and this is something Golfdom never contemplated 70 years ago, technology has further improved that advantage by introducing the electric version of the trolley. Some even use Bluetooth.
And innovative upstart eWheels has just developed a nifty gizmo that converts a manual trolley to an electrified ballerina on the course. In another development that would stun Golfdom, eWheels got its initial capital through a Kickstarter initiative which launched what appears to be heading for huge success.
“The majority of regular golfers in the UK use an electric trolley,” says Mark Stewart, Stewart Golf’s chief executive officer. Based in England, Stewart Golf produces the high-end Stewart robotic caddies.
The company’s flagship is the X9 Follow that, thanks to Bluetooth-powered electronics, trails hands-free behind a golfer around the course with just one initial push of a button.
According to a recent R&A global survey, a majority of Brits (62 percent) and many golfers in Europe (26 percent) and Australasia (25 percent) use power trolleys, but only 8 percent of North American golfers do so. Why the discrepancy?
A couple of reasons. One is climatic. Hot, humid conditions are common in the southern U.S. Walking can be exhausting.
The other is cultural.
“The UK has a very long history of walking the golf course right from Day one of the game, really, and therefore long before riding carts were invented,” says Stewart, “so walking is the default way of getting around the course and a core part of our golfing culture and heritage.
“In many areas of North America, the game has been largely designed around the use of a riding cart so that’s therefore likely to be the default way of playing.” He also indicts courses with lengthy distances between greens and tees as well as the reliance of many clubs on the significant revenue stream from cart rentals.
He points out that using an electric trolley allows golfers with age or physical issues to continue to walk the course. But to label the machines as a crutch for elderly or infirm is a mistake.
“The innovation and style of today’s electric trolley has attracted a much younger buyer who sees the performance and health benefits,” according to Stewart.
John Gordon, who has covered golf for more than 30 years for Canadian newspapers, magazines and a TV network, has authored eight books on the game. He lives in Midland, Ontario.