Until this morning, I hated the golf cart. My thinking was its rental (not an option on many courses) makes an expensive and exclusive sport even more so. It makes unhealthy people unhealthier, when walking the course would fix a lot of their physical and emotional problems. And it makes my golf game worse; walking aids my rhythm and loosens my mind and body.
So this morning I wandered upon a history of the golf cart. Actually, it should be called the golf car, according to American National Standards Institute standard Z130.1, since carts are not self-propelled. But it isn't, and according to the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, golfers play about two-thirds of all regulation 18-hole rounds with carts.
Invented for Disabled Golfers
Many of these golfers have no choice but to use a cart. They may sorely want to walk but can't because of aging issues or disabilities. And during a four-hour window on the course, whatever the march of time or a stroke of bad luck has subtracted from their quality of life, the golf cart has the power to add a bit of it back, temporarily making their misfortune, if not misery, more manageable. I can only imagine the struggle of walking to the ball but then the prayer of gratitude after flushing a 5-iron.
I now know that golf carts were invented for disabled golfers. Indeed, in the 1930s until the 1950s, the most widespread use was for those with disabilities. A short article appeared in the August 1930 issue of Popular Mechanics titled, "Electric Auto as Caddy Serves Crippled Player".
Included is a photo of two men wearing white shirts and ties, one standing with clubs over his shoulder and the other sitting behind the steering wheel of the "electric auto" with his clubs resting on a fender rack. The caption reads: "Crippled Golf Player, and the Electric Auto Which Carries Him and His Clubs over the Course".
Here's the entire article:
"To assist a one-legged golf player, a small electric automobile that can be driven over the links without damaging the turf, was constructed. It attains a speed of eleven miles an hour and holds a number of clubs besides a passenger."
Get back in the game
Today, golf carts have evolved in how well they help the disabled. SoloRider is an adaptive golf cart for a single user. The seat swivels, extends to an upright position and allows the golfer to stand, be supported and swing with both hands. The website says: "Long after golfers lose the mobility and stamina they once had, they dream of continuing to play the game they love. SoloRider is turning those dreams into reality for thousands of golfers who are enjoying the stable, comfortable and fun way to get back in the game."
Off My High Horse
So today, I step down off my high horse and stop hating the golf cart. I'll continue to walk the course as long as I can, but the day may come when I can't. That'll bum me out, no doubt, and I may even quit. However, a good friend will recognize my funk if not depression and understand that I need to get back in the game. He'll call and ask that we play 18 — and use carts. And I'll say, "You bet."