A Guide to Electric Golf Trolleys.
Carrying a golf bag for 18 holes can be a real bind. Not only is carrying energy sapping it can also lead to back issues and poor posture. Of course, back in the old days push or pull trollies didn’t exist and the thought of an electric trolley was extremely futuristic. As time passes and technology moves on nothing appears to stay stationary for long. As with all sports golf included, equipment, training, coaching and sports physiology have all progressed at an astonishing rate.
So, let’s time travel back to the days of one strap carry bags and see where it all began.
The first golf trolley.
There has been much speculation on the arrival of the first golf trolley, most accounts point to Bruce Williamson in Portland, Oregon 1945. However, the history seems a little ambiguous with reports of golf trollies back in the year 1939. The golf trolley was originally designed to alleviate the issue of too few caddies. Back in the day golf was for the select few, mostly gentlemen of wealth. The golfer of the 30’s would nearly always be accompanied by a caddie. If a caddy was not available then a new solution was needed, hence the arrival of the trolley.
Although caddies we’re thought to be a necessity, they weren’t always first choice. Caddies had one job to do and that was carry the clubs round the golf course. Many caddies had bad attitudes and were known to be very arrogant. The good thing about a trolley, it doesn’t answer you back! As most caddies were school children they tended to only be available in the summer months when school was out. During spring, autumn and winter golfers were left to fend for themselves. The penny minded golfer would have also realised that he was financially better off using trollies instead of caddies. The caddie was considerably more expensive than the rental of a pull trolley.
In 1945 while Bruce Williamson experimented with his new invention 13 other companies distributed carts or were in the process of designing pull carts. By May 1949 only 3 of the original existed. However, a new batch of hopefuls began in the 1950’s. Examples of other carts on the market prior to 1950 include Wagner, Caddie Boy, Caddie Master, and Roll-King, Tag –a –Long Mi-Cart, Caddy Queen, Healthways and Jersey Co.
But when did the first electric trolley arrive?
Electric golf trolleys were introduced into the United Kingdom by Joe Catford who established the well-known company Powakaddy back in 1983. Since then the eclectic trolley has evolved in a number of different ways.
The first commercially successful golf trolley was called the PowaKaddy Classic. The system was pretty basic, go and stop. Now days consumers have a wealth of choice from different brands and designs. Some of the key features that are most prevalent these days are:
New technology allows advanced materials to be used in ways not previously possible. Aluminium frames are lightweight and strong. Less weight saves battery power and aids your electric trolley to battle on over the toughest of golf courses.
Hand held remote control.
With newer electric models, you have the option of using a remote control to navigate your trolley round the course. Much like a toy remote control car you can adjust speed and direction, you can even reverse it when heading full speed into a bunker. More skilled users can also drift round corners and do doughnuts.
Lightweight Lithium batteries.
Batteries have evolved considerably since the old milk float days. Where in the past you were worried your battery would die on the 15th hole now you can purchase small compact Lithium batteries that will cover 36 holes before a recharge is required.
Score card and umbrella holders.
Lighter frames allow for more gadgets and luxuries. The accessory pack for electric trollies is vast. You can add seats, score card holders and umbrella holders.
App driven GPS & Smartphone notifications
The digital era has even reached your golf trolley. You can now sync your phone to your onboard trolley computer and download thousands of golf courses.
Quick fold mechanisms
Sophisticated designs allow for your trolley to be easily erected and folded in seconds. The new fold mechanisms reduce the super trolley to tight little bundles ready to be stored in your car boot.
What are the health benefits?
Golfers use a wide variety of muscles when playing golf. The obvious things are hands, arms, shoulders and back. Not many people realise what an important role our legs and core play during the swing. The biggest muscles in our body are the Gluteal muscles. The gluteal muscles are a group of three muscles which make up the buttocks. These along with our hamstrings help to stabilise and create explosive power throughout our swings.
Anything that can help prevent injury and sustain energy for long periods is extremely beneficial. Lugging a heavy bag over one shoulder is not conducive to helping keep those important muscles in the best of condition. Many golfers find that the aches and pains that they experience after a long day hacking it on the links is actually from carrying a heavy golf bag. The majority of the time we associate our aches and pains with our poor golfing mechanics.
Many men take up golf as a second sport, quite often as an alternative to football. As a result of many years playing football a high percentage of men suffer with knee aliments. Carrying a golf bag over a distance of 4 miles is not great for the knees and can exacerbate the condition of knee joints to the point where they can become inflamed and painful.
Unfortunately for us bag carriers it’s not just the endless carrying that can have a detrimental effect on us. A great number of golfers have been injured when putting down and picking up equipment such as golf bags. Depending on how many shots you take could actually affect your health. In reality when using an electric golf trolley, you are only lifting your bag twice during the whole day. Firstly, to mount the bag on the trolley and then at the end of the round back into your car.
I personally have found three major benefits from using an electric golf trolley.
1. Back pain.
For years and years, I’ve carried my golf bag, in all weather, round all courses and all tournaments. Never had an issue! Then one day after another mediocre round I felt some discomfort in my lower back. After a couple of pints in the bar the pain melted away, until my next outing that was. After a month of back pain during and after playing golf my wife very subtly suggested I wasn’t as young as I was yesterday and maybe I should take her electric trolley out for a spin. I reluctantly agreed!
To my amazement I played the whole 18 holes without and discomfort and as a result played better. I hated to admit it, but she was correct. I was getting older and carrying a golf bag like I was a junior wasn’t doing anything positive for my health.
2. More energy.
I’ve always kept myself reasonably fit. I’m a member of a gym, I’ve ran a few marathons and eat pretty healthy, apart from the weekends but that’s a whole new topic. So, when I played golf I was a little upset how tired I was feeling towards the end and after the round. We all understand golf is a mental as well as a physical game but even so, I felt pretty wrecked once that final putt was holed.
Moving to an electric trolley transformed my energy levels and as a result my focus was sharper and therefore fewer mistakes were made. All these factors helped me play and score better which then made me happier and more fun to be around. All this from just using an electric trolley.
This benefit may seem a little strange when you first read the title, but hydration was something I was skimping on due to the weight of the fluids. When I carried my bag, I was reluctant to carry more than two small bottles of water, purely due to the extra weight. Normally after nine holes all my water was depleted and there were two good reasons for this. The first being I was pretty thirsty, and the second, I wanted to shed the extra weight I was carrying to lower the load.
Now I use an electric trolley I not only take four bottles of water out on to the links I also take a tasty sandwich, nuts and berries. I love it. If I’m having a bad round I pretend I’m out having a nice picnic.
Choosing an electric golf trolley.
With so many companies developing electric trollies there is an option for all golfers. Things to decide on before making a purchase are:
How much do you want to spend? This normally equates to how often you play golf. For instance, if you only play golf three times a year it’s less likely you will want the top of the range electric trolley. If you’re a keen golfer who may play as much as three times a week then spending more may be a better option.
Prices and specifications vary. At the time of writing this one of the most expensive electric trollies on the market is the Stewart X9 Follow.
The Stewart X9 boast these features.
12V microprocessor control with H-bridge technology
- Bluetooth Class 1 and LED on rear cover
- 12v Lithium 22amp/hour battery
- Power: 2 x 190 watts
- Speed: 1500-1800 rpm
- Single piece steel body
- Powerful 25:1 Ratio gear box
- Sealed for life
- Steel worm shaft
- CNC machined aluminium housing
- Cushioned 3-piece coupling
- Steel output shaft with 2 ball-bearings
- 4-way drive
- Folded Size: 31.9cm (h), 66cm (w), 82cm (l)
- X9 Remote Weight: 14.5kg
- Battery Weight: 3kg
- Warranty: 24 months
With a price tag of £1,699 I’d hope the trolley could hit a few straight drives for me or maybe give me some on-course tuition.
At the other end of the scale is the Headway PRO. At just £179.99 you can be motoring about the course without re-mortgaging the house.
Depending on what car you drive will have a deciding factor on what kind of golf trolley you invest in. If you drive a SUV, estate car or truck the world is your oyster. The whole electric trolley market is open and waiting for your cash. However, if you’re currently cruising about in a Ferrari or Porsche you may want to re-think how you’ll get around the links.
The great thing about electric trolleys these days, they are designed to fold as efficiently as possible. I think some electric trolley designers take inspiration from the Transformer films. It’s just a shame every trolley doesn’t come with your own Megan Fox!
Don’t be put off with the Transformer comment, although the trolleys fold in a number of different ways erecting and folding is very simple. On many models manufactures use a numbering system. Simply fold or unlock number one and follow the number sequence until complete. Simples!!
Features and gadgets:
If you are anything like me you like lots of buttons to press and twizzle. Pretty LED screens informing me of all manner of information I have no use for.
Yes, it’s great to have a new toy that looks awesome and gives you bragging rights, but is it necessary. Some would say “YES”, I would say “NO”. When considering buying a new electric trolley remind yourself of the task in hand, then ask if all the extra features are worth the additional cost.
Maintaining an electric trolley
During winter time, some golf courses enforce a trolley ban during wet weather periods, this is to protect the fairways from heavy trolleys. Most golfers who are willing to play during the winter months grab their old lightweight golf bags leaving their electric trolley to shiver in a cold garage. The winters in the UK can be long, wet and cold, so what of the poor electric trolley during this baron season?
Here are a few tips that should keep your trolley happy and healthy.
The first job to do when preparing your trolley for hibernation is a good old-fashioned wipe down. With some mild detergent and warm water wipe down the frame and pay attention to any loose or missing bolts and wires. If you find a missing or loose screw/bolt endeavour to fix straight away as loose parts tend to create a knock-on effect.
I wipe down is perfectly sufficient. Power hosing is over kill and can damage your trolley. Electric trolleys are built to work in the rain, damp and cold conditions not to be pounded by high pressure water cannons.
Check how the wheels are turning. The wheels should rotate forward easily, but not backwards. If the wheels do turn backwards it could be a warning the clutch is broken or slipping. Remove the wheels and clean off any grass or loose impediments from around the axle. Before re-attaching the wheels lightly cover the end of the axle with grease, this will help to keep the wheels moving freely and water tight.
Clutches should not be oiled, greased or sprayed with lubricant.
Axel bearings should run smoothly. If there are gaps or play in the bearings they may need to be replaced. Warn bearings will affect performance and will add additional strain to your battery life.
The front wheel or mini wheel should run freely forwards and backwards. Again, check for warn bearings, and general health of the front wheel. The front wheel can be easily replaced with a spare from most electric trolley companies. Some trolleys have inflated tyres, just like the tyres on your car these need to be checked once in a while. Low pressure tyre will cause unnecessary strain on battery power.
Next, let’s get this hot rod up in the air and check out her performance. If possible heist your trolley into a position so the wheels can run freely. Using the speed knob turn gradually to increase the speed, make sure the wheels are reacting accordingly to the speed knob. Iterate through all speed settings for a full MOT. If your mini vehicle has an off and on button ensure it is working correctly.
Loving your battery through the winter months will pay off massively in spring if cared for correctly.
Lead acid batteries used in golf trolleys should never be totally discharged. Try to make sure there is some life ticking inside your batteries heart. All lead acid golf batteries have vents at the top to allow gasses to escape during charging. Make sure these vents are free from grime and blockages. Batteries can sit on trolleys in a number of ways and still work efficiently, however when charging the battery needs to be in a position so the vents are in the top position allowing the gases to flow freely into the atmosphere.
Battery charging times are similar to us human beings. Where recommended sleep for an adult is 8 hours, recommended charge time is 8 hours. Children are advices to get 12 hours sleep per night. To make sure your battery is fully charged we recommend you treat it like a child and tuck her up for a cosy 12 hours sleep.
If you trickle charge your 18-hole battery for a couple of hours and attempt to play a full round of golf on a partially charged battery the longevity may be compromised. Sure, you may limp round the last few holes but permanent damaged may be caused. The same is to be said if using an 18-hole battery for 36 holes. Don’t do it!!
The charger is an important part of kit. Most decent companies ship their trolleys with a strong health charging unit. However, if your charger is faulty or the performance is faltering be sure to replace with a high-quality replacement. Some charges miss behave when you’re not looking. They can do a naughty thing called ‘back discharge’. When the mains plug is turned off or unplugged the charger can pull the charge back from the battery up the lead back to itself. I’m sure you agree this is unacceptable behaviour, but I’m yet to find a charger that listen to my reasoning.
Make sure you always disconnect the charger from the battery once fully charged.
So, what’s the best place for winter or long periods of storage?
Once your battery is fully charged you can disconnect from the charger and store in a not too cool or hot place. Avoid places like greenhouses, sheds and garages. A Harry Potter cupboard like area will do just nicely.