Golf Carts began in the USA with Merle Williams in World War II. During the gasoline rationing, his “Marketeer Company” started as a company that built grocery shop carts; they evolved and in 1951 they produced the first electric golf cart.
The first E-Z-Go cart ran on a 36-volt battery originally designed to power wing flaps on B-17 bombers. Most golf carts had three wheels and tiller steering throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s.
Into the present and the Mercedes-Benz ‘Vision Golf Cart’ is on the market. There are also proto-types of strap-in jet packs and hovercraft which you can buy if you’re willing to spend the requisite US$58,000. In Thailand the modern golf cart is available at even the most standard course, a luxury that many overseas golfers may rarely enjoy or expect. But do you really want to relinquish your exercise and leisurely stroll in the countryside? Shania Twain offered one comment: “Many a golfer prefers a golf cart because the cart cannot count, criticise or laugh.”
Mickey Mantle offered a further observation: “He who has the fastest golf cart never has a bad lie.” Some golf courses here make hiring a cart compulsory; a policy which those in the know say cannot be justified by any notions of speeding up play. They say it’s just a cash-cow; a comment that could also apply when shared carts are disallowed. Hiring a cart makes a significant difference to the cost of playing, from around 300 THB (shared) up to 800 THB each.
It’s a Golf Cart NOT a Go Cart!
Golf cart safety can be summarised with this very simple piece of advice: Don’t act stupid! Most on-course accidents involving golf carts – and there are more of them than you might think – stem from golfers acting stupidly: the equivalent of golf-cart joyriding. Standing rather than sitting inside the cart; hanging legs or arms out of the cart; the driver not paying attention to where he or she is going; taking sharp turns at too high speeds; or operating a cart when impaired by alcohol.
Here are our top ten safety tips so that you can get back to the club house in one piece!
- Keep your arms and legs inside the cart when the cart is in motion. Hanging a foot outside the cart while traveling can easily lead to a broken ankle or foot. Then there are obstacles – tree branches, for example – that arms or legs extended from the cab of the cart can impact.
- Carts are not equipped with safety belts. Don’t go flying around corners or attempt sharp curves at top speed – this can result in someone being thrown from the cart (yes, people have been killed as a result of being thrown from a golf cart).
- If you are the driver, don’t press on the accelerator until your partner is seated. No matter how much fun it might seem like.
- Watch the cart path. Sounds simple, but just as a driver on a highway can be distracted by something and lose sight of the road, so can golfers get distracted and drive right off the designated cart path.
- Be extra vigilant on cart paths around the clubhouse, at any road cross-overs or bottlenecks on the course.
- Don’t speed into a stop behind a parked cart. Your partners are already up at the green and parked, you race ahead to catch up and slam on the brakes just as your cart is about to rear-end theirs.
- Don’t take the cart to places on the golf course where it is not intended to go: Through thickets of trees, over rough terrain, down through gullies or ravines, through water.
- If the designated driver is away and you feel the need to move the cart, move into the driver’s seat. Many an accident has resulted from confusion between the brake and accelerator pedal because a passenger has tried to drive with one hand and using the wrong foot.
- Many cart tracks were designed for travelling in one direction. If you are driving the opposite way, for example returning to the clubhouse after a shot gun start, slow down.
- Carts in reverse cause many accidents despite the warning sounds. It’s up to the driver to take extra care but golfers near to carts should always think about potential movements.