I was pumped for my first spin on the GolfBoard.
So I set up an appointment at Sewailo Golf Club in Tucson to try it out, meeting Arizona GolfBoard sales rep Jody Thyfault and Sewailo head golf professional Spencer Cody at the course Aug. 28.
One problem – the charge was gone when I got there.
It seems that Cody and his crew had been out with it all day at the course, taking cruises, demoing it to members of the Tribal Council, shooting video and giving the members of the University of Arizona golf team a demonstration.
The team – and the coaches – all took their turns and raved over it.
No sweat, I found Thyfault on the course, got his keys and got the charger out of the car.
A scant 15 minutes later, we charged it enough to take it out on the ninth fairway and I got that spin.
I picked it up immediately.
The GolfBoard is basically a souped-up, all-terrain, motorized skateboard with the capacity to handle a golfer and clubs.
Steering, just as with a skateboard or surfboard, is controlled by shifting the feet and your weight in the direction you wish to turn. The acceleration comes from either a remote or handle-mounted trigger, easy to control with just one finger.
Within a couple of minutes, I was zooming around all over that fairway.
“We tell people it will take a couple of holes to feel super comfortable,” Thyfault said. “After 18 holes you’ll practically be an expert on it.”
The ride was amazingly stable – I never felt like I was close to taking a tumble. It was a smooth, flexible and fun ride.
In fact, I had a blast, remembering my days on a skateboard as a kid and later on the slopes.
OK, this could be a really cool way to get around the course and play the sport I love.
The GolfBoard was co-founded by a fitness guru and a top surfer. Don Wildman, the founder of Bally Total Fitness, still snowboards at age 81. His partner, Laird Hamilton, is recognized as one of the best surfers on the planet and invented stand-up paddleboards.
Wildman and Hamilton got together with EV entrepreneur Star Faraon, who was developing an electric mountain board.
The GolfBoard is a refined version, complete with a bag stand to hold a golfer’s clubs.
Jim Black is the Director of Media and Communications for the company. A golf course superintendent and contributor to Superintendent Magazine, he saw the product online and offered to help with their website.
He also handles inquiries from individuals looking at purchasing a board – and as of Labor Day weekend, business was booming.
“I had five or six inquiries today from individuals and six or seven yesterday, including a couple from Sweden and England,” Black said.
The company’s first run was geared to producing 500 boards and “we’re basically sold out,” he said.
Feedback has been nothing but positive from those trying the board for the first time.
“They tell me they love it and it’s just so easy to learn,” Black said. “By the time they walk off the first green they’re comfortable on it. Once they ride it and come back they’re thrilled.”
Other efforts to bring in younger players to the game, i.e. 14-inch cups and foot golf, change the game fundamentally. Not so with the GolfBoard, he says.
“The board doesn’t change anything about the game, not your ball, not your shot – golf is still golf.”
Other advantages include the potential for faster rounds, the physical activity while riding the board and less wear and tear on the turf. The board weighs substantially less (about one-third) than a conventional golf cart.
Sewailo Golf Club has ordered their first four GolfBoards, expecting delivery around early November.
They are leasing the boards from the company and will be renting them out to golfers at $25 a round, over and above their normal green fee.
The lease runs about $120 a month on a 60-month plan, therefore clubs can easily recoup the cost just renting them out a couple of times a month. Of course, they expect to rent them out way more often than that and make money in the process.
Kierland Resort in Scottsdale was the first club in Arizona to order the boards, placing their order in February at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., where the board was named the Best New Product for 2014.
Cody held the club’s first demonstration of the board in early August.
”We shared it with pretty much the entire staff,” he said. “Being at one time a semi-professional snowboarder, it obviously appeals to me. But all the way down to people who had never set foot on a skateboard or snowboard, they also loved it.”
They tested it out at the top speed of around 10 miles per hour, in wet spots on the fairway, and were pleased with the low impact to the turf.
“It was way less wear and tear on the turf than a golf cart,” Cody said.
Members of the University of Arizona golf team noticed that they were getting a little bit of a workout while riding the board.
“They mentioned that they could feel it working their core,” Cody said.
He sees the board as an opportunity to grow the game.
“It’s one of our initiatives at Troon, to find ways to grow the game,” he said. “We want to bring people into the game – the younger generation – that may not play except for something like this.”
“Maybe it will change some people’s mind about golf being a stuffy kind of game – and show that we’re out here to have fun.”
The GolfBoard – Golf’s Newest Toy
By Kevin Duke
Associate Editor – Golf Arizona