While golf carts are commonly found on golf courses everywhere, their popularity and usage has expanded from carrying sportsmen around country clubs and public courses to far more widespread usage. They have gone from virtual obscurity 50 years ago to being a popular utility vehicle and form of transportation for short trips.
Golf Cart History
Prior to 1950, golf carts were seldom seen on golf courses. JD Wadley of Texarkana, Texas, thought that an electric-powered three-wheeled cart used for transporting senior citizens might work well on a course, but his idea did not catch on. Usage was still contained to those unable to walk far. After World War II, the cart came into widespread acceptance when Merle Williams introduced an electric version in Redlands, California. Major manufacturers such as Cushman, Club Car, Taylor Dunn, Harley Davidson, Yamaha and CT&T came on board to introduce their own models over the next decade.
The first commercial carts were electric, and they remain the most popular type, holding 55 percent of the market. But gas-powered vehicles are available and popular on many courses as well.
Off-Course Uses for Golf Carts
Almost from their inception, golf carts became popular for more than moving players from hole to hole. According to one major dealership in the Midwest, 40 percent are used off-course. Some of these uses include:
- Turf care – On golf courses, an electric cart is an unobtrusive way to perform maintenance tasks on the property. You can carry seed, fertilizer and other supplies to do yard work anywhere you need, whether on a course or on your own property.
- Maintenance – Economical to operate and easy to park, the carts provide reliable transportation between sites for multi-unit property managers and maintenance crews.
- Senior communities – The carts were quickly adopted as a form of transportation at senior communities, which often have trails specifically for their use. In island communities, the carts are usually the preferred form of transportation.
- Courtesy vehicles – Hotels, country clubs, airports, campground owners and visitors and other venues often use golf carts to transport guests around the property.
- Security patrols – On college campuses and on private campuses that utilize off-site parking, carts offer safe transportation to cars. They also offer convenient mall parking-lot security surveillance.
- Wedding transportation – Now available for up to 14 passengers, golf carts are an easy way to transport the wedding party or wedding guests for short distances – for example, between the ceremony and reception site when they are on the same property.
- General transport – As they become legal to drive on the street in many areas, carts have become an economical mode of transportation. Those considered street legal must meet federal standards regarding lights, safety features and minimum speed. While they are not built for the freeway, they can be a great alternative for short trips around the neighborhood or to the store.
For effective local transportation far beyond the golf course, golf carts are proving to be a great alternative.