Single Rider Topics
This page will discuss the following topics
- The golf industry and single rider options
- Disadvantages of most of the early designs
- Advantages of ebikes
- Past electric bicycles for golf
The golf industry and single rider options
At the last couple of annual PGA Shows in Orlando Florida, there have been multiple companies introducing single-rider devices that come in many shapes and styles. They have 2, 3, or 4 tires. Some are sit-down, some are stand-up. They include modified 4-wheel ATV's, large skate-boards, 2-wheel self-balancing devices, and modified mobility carts. As you can see in the accompanying pictures, they mount the golf bags on the back or front, or between the rider's legs. Some are very unique. They all speed up the game because the rider can go straight to his or her own ball and don't have to share a 2-person cart which takes twice the time.
There are growing numbers of industry articles promoting single-rider golf options as a necessity for the future of golf (search “single rider golf cart articles”) . Chris Nickel has written an article in MyGolfSpy titled, “The Two-Person Golf Cart Needs To Die” which makes very strong arguments for the benefits of single-rider options. The golf industry is changing. It MUST change. Speeding up the game will attract more players and retain them longer.
Rick Reimers, developer of the Sun Mountain 3-wheel push cart has observed, “A two-person golf cart is like a sofa on wheels. They sit down and that’s what they do for the rest of the day. They sit and wait.”
Traditional golf carts were first introduced in the 1930's and it took 20 years before they were commonplace at elite courses and another 10 before they were available at all courses. With today's fast exchange of information and technology, I believe single-rider devices will become the norm much faster. For a variety of reasons described on this page, DivnickGolf believes that ebikes are the best single-rider option, by far. By developing the auto-tilt bag carrier, it is our goal to help that belief become reality.
Why is single-rider golf necessary? Because golf is on a 20-year decline with the exception of the "Covid bounce." According to the National Golf Foundation, a high of 30.6 million golfers in 2003 has been reduced to 25 million with many of those only playing once or twice a year, hardly enough to be counted in the total and minimal benefit to their local courses. Over 1,200 courses have closed in the past 10 years (7.4% of the supply) and more than 700 (4.7%) in the past 5 years. The number of golfers between ages 18 and 34 has declined by 30 percent over the past 20 years. Seniors who play 2 or 3 times a week are not replacing ourselves with our adult children. These facts cannot be ignored. The golf industry must solve this before it is too late and the only courses that remain are for the few rich elite.
It just takes too long to play, and there are other activities competing for that kind of time. Millennials and Gen X consider the game far too slow — five hours or more to play 18 holes. That doesn't fit into their 21st century lifestyle. Golf courses must find ways to speed up the game, and single-rider golf is one of the easiest ways to do it. They resist at their own demise.
Covid Pandemic Bounce and Lessons for Single Rider Golf
During the initial months of the Covid Pandemic in 2020, golf courses around the world limited riders to 1-person-per-cart. No one would ever have suggested that all golf courses around the world spend 2 or 3 months conducting a test with 1-person-per-cart to see how it speeds up the game. But that is what happened. And the results have been dramatic with many courses reporting an average of 1 to 1 1/2 hours faster rounds. So this pandemic-driven experiment has become unintentional proof that single rider options speed up the game. It's not as if common sense doesn't already know that. But it is always nice to have real-world proof.
Advantages of E-Bikes
Ebikes are the best single rider option for a variety of reasons. In addition to speeding up the game, ebikes have the following advantages over the other single-rider options:
- Affordable: They are affordable for individual consumers...starting under $1,000, so there is no capital cost requirement for golf courses. Of course, because of their low price point, they will also be more affordable for golf courses that want to rent them to golfers, but that is not a requirement. Golfers can afford them just like their own golf equipment.
"The game needs modernization to bring in the next generation."
- Multi-use: They can be ridden to-and-from the golf course, to work, to school, on a leisure family ride, or to the market to pick up a gallon of milk! So they are not limited to golf like the other single-rider devices. This helps justify the cost over multiple purposes.
- No Operators License Required: Ebikes are governed by bicycle rules. You do not need to get a motorcycle license. (Always consult your State's laws.)
- As much exercise as you want : Pedal-assist technology provides any level of exercise that the golfer desires. The golfer can use his or her own leg power (which is challenging on soft grass and hills) or use the “pedal-assist” motor which has 5 settings from a little bit of help to doing most of the work. Or, you can just use the throttle and let the bike do all the work. Many ebikes also have gears for steep hills or long fast rides between holes.
- Ergonomic Storage: Many ebikes fold up and fit into the trunk of your car, so you don't need an additional costly bike rack on the back of your car. I haul mine in my mini-van with the back seat down. It is a folding bike, but I only need to lower the handlebars, and the front tire fits between the middle-row seats.
- Smooth Ride: Most ebikes have low pressure "fat tires" so they are turf-friendly and don't leave an impression in the grass. Many have front fork suspension and suspension seats which result in a smoother ride than a conventional golf cart.
- Easy Operation: Everyone already knows how to ride a bicycle, so the learning-curve is very quick and simple…one time around the parking lot and you are ready to go.
Summary of Advantages - Compared to Other Single Rider Devices
|Feature||Ebikes||Other Single Rider Devices|
|Cost - Affordability||$900 to $2,000 and coming down||Over $5,000|
|Versatile, Multi-Use||Great for golf, ride to-and-from the course, work, school, errands, family rides||Only used for golf|
|Exercise||As much, or as little as you want||None, just sit or stand|
|Learning Curve - Safety||As easy as riding a bicycle||Requires safety training and practice|
|Attract New Younger Golfers||Very popular with young||Limited|
|Appealing to Seniors||Great for getting non-stressful exercise while golfing||None|
|Cost to Golf Courses||None, golfers purchase their own. But courses can also purchase and rent them out...for much less cost than other single rider devices.||Significant capital outlay and maintenance|
|"Ebikes will play an important role in the future of mobility, extending far beyond the traditional bike market."
Sam Chainani, Managing Director, Morgan Stanley Counterpoint Global
Available to the Masses
There are already over one million ebikes in America, and a lot more than that in Europe and Asia. That number is expected to double this year and explode to 10 million in the next 5 years. There is also pending legislation to provide a tax credit for ebikes which will make them even more affordable. This volume-boom will continue to drive the prices down. Early single rider devices are cool, but ebikes are even cooler, higher tech, and greener. They are affordable, portable, transportable, can be used for other things, and offer exercise. They appeal to young and old alike. There will soon be millions of golfers with their own ebikes. Ebikes will deliver what the other single rider devices can only dream of…actually speeding up the ENTIRE course, attracting more people to golf, and stemming the tide of closing courses.
Past electric bicycles for golf
There have been a variety of bicycle-golf devices over the years. The early versions were on conventional bikes that had to stay on the cart paths because of their thin tires. As you can see in the accompanying picture montage, designs included little trailers that tow the golf clubs and bag holders on the front or rear.
Some electric ebike owners have rigged up bag carriers mounted on an extended rack frame on the back of the bike like the two pictured at the bottom of this montage. Unfortunately, this makes it very top-heavy which is a problem for the conventional kick stand. These bikes can easily fall over, especially in windy conditions, or on soft ground. And they can't be parked on a hill or uneven ground which means they often can't park close to their ball.
A few years ago, the green golf bike pictured in the middle-right of this montage was introduced. These are pedal bikes (no motors) which are very difficult to pedal on grass and up hills. You have to be extremely fit to complete a full round, even on level courses because of the resistance of the tires on soft grass. They have saddle-bags for clubs which requires you to empty your clubs and other golf paraphernalia out of your golf bag and put it into the saddle bags. They don't have fenders which is a big problem if the grass is wet...which is at least every morning from dew in most climates. Also, these bikes are not folding, so if you buy one and transport it to the course, you have to hang it on a rear hitch bike carrier for transport which is added cost, or have a pickup or other large-enough vehicle. Still, they illustrate one of the early bike entries into the single-rider trend, and they have had modest success.
The three men pictured below purchased their green pedal golf bikes and quickly learned that it was too difficult to pedal for a full round, especially on soft grass and up hills. So they purchased batteries and motor kits for the front hubs. Of course, the traction isn't as good with front-wheel drive, and the motors are not integrated into the pedals. But what I love about this is that it demonstrates that there are golfers out there in every city who are ready for golf ebikes.
Fast and Easy Auto-Pivot Kick-Stand-Bag-Carrier: DivnickGolf's proprietary quick-attach auto-pivot bag carrier doubles as a kick stand, so it is very stable with a low center of gravity. It tilts out easily and automatically pivots back to vertical when the rider takes off so it is much faster than a kick stand, and never sinks into soft ground. If you have 50 to 60 swing shots per round (not including putts), operating the kick stand every time would be a real pain. We've eliminated that hassle and time. Our carrier tilts out as you get off your bike, so it doesn't take any more time, and it automatically pivots back to vertical when you take off.
We had a little fun with an old picture of a lady riding a motorized 2-wheel scooter that appears to be about 100 years old.
With a little photo management, we added a golf bag and 4 old clubs on the front.