GOLF CART HISTORY
It has been reported that some golfers don’t always hit a golf ball in a straight line down the fairway. For many, it seems they spend their entire round of golf Kris crossing across the course. Could it be that little flask of Scotch in their bag?
Until the 1960s, golf courses were played exclusively on foot. Golf Carts were not invented just yet. Golfers would carry their own bags, or pull them behind them on a pull cart.
For those who were fortunate enough to play golf at country clubs, candies were provided to carry the players clubs, but even then most were still looking at a healthy five-mile walk. Because walking is such a slow pace, many courses would have to schedule tee times at intervals that would accommodate the walking golfer. It is said the first use of a motorized golf cart on a golf course was by JK Wadley of Texarkana, Texas/Arkansas. He saw a three-wheeled electric cart being used in Los Angeles to transport senior citizens to the grocery store. He purchased a cart and found that it worked poorly on a golf course.
The first electric golf cart was custom-made in 1932, but didn’t gain much acceptance. In the 1930s until the 1950s the most widespread use of Golf Carts was for those with disabilities who needed help walking from one point to another. By the mid-1950′s the Golf Cart had finally found its niche. Golfers now had several choices of manufactures like Victor Adding Machines and Sears and Roebuck producing various models. Most golf carts at that time were electric.
The “Marketeer Company” was founded by Merle Williams of Long Beach California during World War II. During this period of gas rationing he built a small electric vehicle for his wife to go to the market. As others saw his creation as a solution to their short distance transportation needs too, he received requests to build additional vehicles. He later moved his company to Redlands California and shortly thereafter added electric invalid vehicles to his line of two wheeled electric bicycles. Vehicles for industrial applications soon followed. In early 1951 the first electric car designed specifically for playing golf was introduced. In 1965 Merle and Peggy Williams sold their “Marketeer Company” to Westinghouse.
Westinghouse continued building electric powered golf carts, industrial and specialty vehicles. They started off with four wheel carts. Around 1967 they came out with the model 436 series four wheelers and 437 three wheelers. In 1976 Westinghouse revised their overall corporate strategy and the electric vehicle division was sold.
Under its new owners the company soon faltered as a result of management inefficiency and lack of capitol. After just a few months Westinghouse took the operation back and began looking for a strong and resourceful buyer that could restore the operation to its proper stature. In 1978 they found a buyer and the company was sold to Nordskog Industries, Inc. After the death of Bob Nordskog in 1993 the company was sold to U.S. Electricar. In 1996 Legend Electric Vehicles of Redlands acquired the company from the failing U.S. Electricar. In 1999 Columbia Par Car, who had earlier bought Harley Davidson Golf Cars in 1982, purchased Legend.
In 1951 his Marketeer Company began production of an electric golf cart in Redlands, California. Then EZGO followed and began producing golf carts in 1954, Cushman in 1955, Club Car in 1958, Taylor-Dunn in 1961, Harley-Davidson in 1963, Yamaha Golf Car in 1979 and CT&T in 2002.
Elvis Presley’s Harley Davidson golf cart. A Two-seater white Harley Davidson golf cart with silver handles and black trim was one of several golf carts purchased by Elvis as a fun way to get around Graceland. A sales receipt from Taylor Harley Davidson dated 18 May 1967, shows a purchase price of $1,055.38.
Max Walker created the first gasoline-powered golf cart in 1957 called “The Walker Executive”. It was built on a trike shaped frame with a Vespa-style front end carried two passengers and golf bags.
In the late 1970s, golf carts began being used for other activity in addition to golf courses. In 1979, Club Car modified its standard cart to include a rear cargo box, creating a utility vehicle. In 1986, Yamaha built the first Neighborhood Electrical Vehicle (NEV) for driving on city streets. NEVs have increased in popularity ever since.
Peachtree City, Georgia has many miles of golf cart paths that link the city together. Golf cart travel is used by a majority of the community, especially among high school students. McIntosh High School even has a student golf cart parking lot on campus.
On islands such as Santa Catalina Island, California, Bald Head Island, North Captiva Island, North Carolina, and Hamilton Island, motor vehicles are sometimes restricted and residents use golf carts instead.
The residential community of Discovery Bay, Hong Kong does not allow the use of private vehicles apart from a fleet of 520 golf carts.
Our own community The Villages, Florida, has over 100,000 people and has an extensive golf cart trail system and also allows golf carts on many streets. It is the most popular form of transportation in this community.
To be more environmentally friendly, many golf carts are now manufactured with electric, battery-powered motors. These batteries are rechargeable, and a charge can normally last for several days.
However, there is still demand for the gas-powered golf cars, especially on golf courses where the rolling terrain may require extra horsepower for the car to climb hills. Today’s largest manufacturers of golf cars are Ingersoll Rand (Club Car), E-Z-Go and Yamaha.
If you’re willing to drop $58,000, you can cruise the fairway (not to mention the rough and water obstacles) in a BW1 of your very own. It comes complete with a 65-hp twin-cylinder Hirth engine and a streamlined, sound minimizing fan that promises enough power to reach 45 mph and ferry two golfers plus caddies between holes. So, it may not be for those still improving their technique, but for the swinger that’s got everything, it’s the perfect ride for your trip to the floating golf course.
If you have a beautiful golf cart The Villages Social Diary would love to photograph your wheels and display it here on TVSD for all to see. Drop us an e-mail and we will make sure to tell your story of how and why you love your vehicle, then you and your golf cart could end up ”The Social Diary Golf Cart of the Month.”