30th October 2014
“We need more buggies” my playing partner suddenly blurted out the other day.
He may as well have punched me in the face. In fact I am sure I recoiled as his words registered with me. To be fair we were playing a match and as I have never been slow in expressing my dislike for them he may very well have been seeking to distract or disturb me.
A Colourful Selection Of Golf Buggies
Perhaps what really grated with me was the fact that objectively he was absolutely right. We are both members of a traditional private club with a predominantly male membership with an average age of 58. Just looking across our course we could see four buggies in view from the hole we were playing. Our Club has six in total and up until recently they hardly ever came out the garage.
The UK population – and therefore golfers (and sadly myself too) – are generally getting fatter and more unhealthy. Without anyone realising this has been impacting on golf for a while now. 30 years ago most people seemed to carry their clubs. Some players pulled a trolley. Nowadays the majority have an electric trolley. The trend is clear – more people need help getting around and we all prefer the easy option if offered it. If Club’s provide more buggies then it is inevitable that members will seek to use them in my opinion. Any modest injury or mild discomfort will soon see golfers clambering for the keys as they seek assistance in covering the 4 or 5 miles they need to play a round.
The buggy or golf cart was invented in 1951 by Merle Williams and for many years was the sole preserve of the US Country Club. It has gradually infiltrated the UK since but thankfully only to a modest extent, save for the larger resort courses. Two of the main manufacturers E-Z-Go (1954) and Club Car (1958) have been trading for around 60 years and a quick review of their Parent company’s accounts – Textra Inc and Ingersoll Rand respectively – shows their businesses are both doing quite nicely with sales growing annually. Interestingly both companies are based in Augusta, Georgia – so this City is famous for more than just The Masters after all !
All I ask of a golf course is well presented tees, fairways, bunkers and greens (with holes and flags). Frankly, I see no need for bins, benches, halfway houses (although I appreciate a modest toilet facility is appropriate), shelters and most of all buggies. Golf is a game that should be played on foot. If you can no longer walk around the course then it’s simply time to move on. It is no different to more active sports such as football and rugby – when you can no longer run around the field or the recovery time becomes too long you know it is time to find something else to do (often golf). I fear more buggies will be coming to our Club soon and inevitably to your course too soon. If you don’t want your course to turn into a race track or to see buggies parked up beside the clubhouse then get ready to push back. I will be.
Copyright © 2014, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.