Golf skateboard aims to rejuvenate 'old man's sport'

Dec 20, 2013 by Michael Thurston

Skateboarders and golfers may not normally have much in common, but a US entrepreneur hopes to appeal to both sporting types with a new device that lets you "surf" the fairways.

The GolfBoard, demonstrated at a recent charity event in California, looks like a large motorized skateboard but can comfortably carry a golfer and his clubs around 18 holes, according to its makers.

The innovative device aims to replace the as the smart way to get around a course, speeding up the game and offering players a snowboard-style work out in between playing shots.

"It will do for golfing what snowboarding did for skiing," said Don Wildman, a 80-year-old fitness club founder and Malibu resident who came up with the idea, giving a stark assessment of golf's current appeal.

"It's an old man's sport. I know if I had kids, they would really like to come out and play golf if they got to ride around on... an electric skateboard," he told AFP in the clubhouse of the Malibu Country Club.

Paul Hodge, who heads the company that makes the device, is even more blunt.

"If you really want the industry to grow, and to be accepted by the mass market, you need to kill that stodgy conservative attitude... and you need to make it fun... and attract the younger crowds," he said.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

"Forward-thinking people in the golf industry right now realize you can't focus on what was the game like 100 years ago. You need to focus on, what's the game going to be like in the future?"

The board, 15 inches (38 centimeters) wide with 3.5 inch wide tires, can ride up to 36 holes without a recharge.

It is designed so that, even for a heavy golfer weighing more than 250 pounds (110 kilos) on a very hilly course, it can go at least 18 holes.

It can reach speeds of up to 12 miles per hour, roughly the equivalent of a golf cart.

Not everyone is convinced, even though the device has yet to be widely available for people to test out.

"This is at best a gimmick, and I can't think of a single course I play at which would even allow such a thing on the course," said one user of online golf forum thesandtrap.com.

'Don't get bored'

"Their liability insurance policies alone would prohibit it," he said, while another commented: "I'm not sure where you come from, but in NY most people can barely manage to get on an escalator without killing themselves and others."

But Hodge said he already has orders for 2,000 GolfBoards, and mass production of the devices—which retail at $3,500 each—will begin in January, with a capacity of 1,000 a month.

"Now we're moving to mass manufacturing to fill the demand that we've created," he said, noting that the GolfBoard is made entirely in the United States, in New Jersey, apart from a battery cell from South Korea.

The target users are aged 15-40, he said. "But we've had a surprising interest from golfers much older than that. The standup (handle) bar that we've added makes it easy for anybody to ride .. that's really opened up the demographic.

"So you don't need to have a really strong athletic background to be able to ride it," he added, while acknowledging: "It's certainly more challenging when you take the bar off."

The company was helped with funding and marketing by crowd-source investment website Kickstarter, where backers earned the right to get one of the first boards off the production line.

Beyond the market for individuals, Hodge says they are targeting golf courses with leasing arrangements, much like for golf carts.

Golf professional Chris van der Velde, who played on the European tour, owns a course in Oregon and is among the first to lease 20 boards initially for six months, to gauge interest from his club's golfers.

"I think it makes golf a lot of more fun, a lot more interesting between shots .. it will intrigue people who like to surf, or snowboard or skateboard. You certainly don't get bored," he said.

Wildman, founder of national health club chain Bally Total Fitness, said young people need to be lured onto again.

"They've got so many distractions, with all the GameBoys and videos and everything else. We've got to get something exciting for them that will get them away from the television," he said.

And he predicted boldly: "I think that eventually the majority of people will be playing on a GolfBoard."

But van der Velde was more measured, acknowledging that there could be skepticism from more conservative or older players.

"I'm not sure it's a traditional game-changer," he said. "Some people will push back. Some people won't like it because it's different. They didn't like going from wooden clubs to metal heads. So it'll push people back.

"But it's pretty cool."

Explore further: CPAP therapy improves golf performance in men with sleep apnea

More information: www.golfboard.com/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The Physics of a golf swing

Nov 06, 2007

Ever wondered about the science behind your golf swing? Or what the perfect swing 'sounds' like? Last week an expert in the physics of golf has visited the home of golf to talk about technology aimed at developing 'the perfect ...

PGA invests in minority golf opportunities

Jul 22, 2011

Golf's storied history in the US has long been criticized for its lack of diversity, but the PGA has taken steps to improve minority participation and exposure to the game. Minority participation has increased with the popularity ...

Golf course: Playing fields, wildlife sanctuaries or both

Dec 03, 2008

"FORE"...Though they may not help improve a person's golf game, stream salamanders might change the way golfers think about the local country club in the near future, following a new University of Missouri study.

Recommended for you

Tomorrow's tablets? Look, no hands

Oct 24, 2014

Engineers in a suburban Chicago office complex have designed a new microphone that they say will be key to the future of smartphone and tablet technology because it gives consumers the ability to operate hand-held devices ...

Apple computer sells for record $905K in NY

Oct 23, 2014

One of the first Apple computers ever built has sold in New York for $905,000, leading Bonhams auction house to declare it the world's most expensive computer relic.

Review: Better cameras, less glare in iPad Air 2

Oct 22, 2014

If I've seen you taking photos with a tablet computer, I've probably made fun of you (though maybe not to your face, depending on how big you are). I'm old school: I much prefer looking through the viewfinder ...

Samsung phones cleared for US government use

Oct 21, 2014

Samsung Electronics Co. said Tuesday some of its Galaxy mobile devices were approved by the National Security Agency for use with classified U.S. government networks and data, a boost to the company's efforts to expand in ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

krundoloss
not rated yet Dec 23, 2013
Sounds cool, but I agree that golfers are usually very stuffy, unchanging people, and that this will be fun, but its like mixing two things that don't go together! People that play golf don't want to play an action sport, and people that play action sports typically don't play golf. What you will have is many people wanting to go ride the skateboard, and people wanting to play golf, and they will be trying to do it at the same place, at the same time. There is just no way these will be in every golf course. Maybe a few in California, but I just don't get it. Its like combining an art show with a concert.
geokstr
not rated yet Jan 03, 2014
Would be nice if it came with options for a detachable seat and a detachable steering wheel.