Most people know a fact or two about the history of the automobile (you know, the vehicle that takes you to the links so you can hop in your real favorite vehicle). The first car was basically a horse-drawn carriage equipped with a motor, then the Ford Model T started to catch everyone’s attention in 1908, and the rest is history. But what about the golf cart? This machine has quite a fascinating history of its own.
Although the terms are used interchangeably in most circles, a golf cart is technically a golf cart (since “carts” cannot be self-propelled) and in the early days they were all powered by electricity. Over time, gasoline models were also introduced. Electric golf cars are still used in some regions where consumers prefer a vehicle that is free of pollutants and noise. JK Wadley, a Texarkana resident who saw the popular variety of three-wheelers used in Los Angeles to take the elderly on errands, owned the first golf cart.
a brilliant idea
Custom built in 1932, Wadley may have been an innovator, but it took a while for the idea to catch on in the golfing community. Between 1932 and 1950, “golf carts” were most popular with people with disabilities or walking problems. However, the mid-1950s saw an increase in the number of golfers who wanted a touch of luxury and comfort during their game. A plethora of electronic models flooded the market, courtesy of manufacturers like Sears and Roebuck and Victor Adding.
Considered the father of golf carts, Long Beach resident Merle Williams took his knowledge of electric car production during World War II (when gas rationing made it a necessity) and started Marketeer Company in Redlands. , California in 1951. His was the first company whose sole purpose was to manufacture and sell golf carts to golfers. Following in his footsteps were the EZGO (1954), Cushman (1955), Club Car (1958), Taylor-Dunn (1961), Harley Davidson (1963), Yamaha Golf Car (1979), and CT&T (2002).
times of change
As concerns about gasoline rationing subsided, Max Walker stepped up and designed the first gasoline-powered trolley, The Walker Executive, in 1957. With Vespa-like lines at the front and shaped like a tricycle, It was perfect for hauling two golfers and their bags. Of course, gas-powered technology is far from high-tech today, but golf cart technology has done a phenomenal job of keeping up with the times and consumer demands.
The latest generation of golf carts, “adaptive golf carts”, use the latest technological advances. Products like SoloRider are designed for one user and give people with disabilities full access to the most tempting golf courses and, of course, the game of golf itself. Swivel seats and 100% upright support allow even more golfers to enjoy their game.
Club Car is a brand that presents a large selection of cars for the field and a variety of other uses. A number of accessories and customizations are also available.
Extreme golf carts are another recent development, often modified from the original designs. Favorite customizations include suspension upgrades, but complete redesigns are pet projects for many. Solar-powered carts are also making impressive strides as more golfers marry their love of the links with their green mindset. Golf carts, like your game, have come a long way, and there’s no telling what’s around the danger.