GolfBoard surfs the earth as a liberating new alternative to a golf cart

I’ve never surfed (tight hips, scared of sharks) or skateboarded (I’m oddly entertained by rail-straddling groin-smash videos, though). Before Monday, I had not ridden a GolfBoard, a motorized golf vehicle marketed as a cross between surfing and skateboarding.

That’s when I “surfed the earth” at up to 12 mph on a GolfBoard at Lincoln Hills Golf Club. I turned in gratuitous circles. I went up, down and along hillsides. I ignored “no carts” signs with impunity. I waved to curious lookie-loos. I parked within a foot of the green.

I smiled incessantly – I couldn’t help it. I can’t wait to do it again.

The GolfBoard is a recent innovation that gives golfers a liberating alternative between walking the course and riding a cart. It’s easier than walking because, well, you’re not. It’s more exercise than riding because you’re always standing and you use your body to balance and maneuver.

Think of it as a gap wedge with wheels.

Terry Fitzwater was taking his second spin Monday, which, considering the shallow learning curve, made him an expert. He read about the GolfBoard in a golf magazine and made his way last week from Granite Bay to Lincoln Hills, which has had four boards since Oct. 1, to try one out.

Fitzwater, 66, who plays mostly at Old Greenwood in the summer and Empire Ranch in the winter, alternates between riding and walking.

“If I had the choice, the GolfBoard or a cart, I’d take the GolfBoard every time,” he said.

Lincoln Hills, surrounded by a retirement community that accounts for about 50 percent of the rounds played at the club’s 36 holes, would seem to be an odd choice for the GolfBoard. You know, a relatively large number of bum knees, aching hips and fear of falling without being able to get up.

Au contraire, said Lincoln Hills general manager Ryan Peterson. Fifty-percent of the club’s play comes from outside the community, a percentage he would like to increase.

“The goal is to make this place more exciting,” Peterson said. “Make it more fun. Attract new golfers. Get a positive vibe going.”

The GolfBoard weighs 115 pounds. It has four 11-inch turf wheels that make little impact and four-wheel drive to eliminate spinning. It goes 6 mph in low gear and 12 mph at full throttle (the average man jogs at 8 mph and the world’s fastest sprinters reach 16 mph, for reference). It has a reverse gear for tight spots. It takes an hour to charge, which lasts two rounds.

Strap your bag to the front, sign the same type of liability waiver you would for a cart, first-timers get a five-minute lesson and go.

Rosemarie Warren, 69, a four-time Lincoln Hills women’s club champion, rode in a cart alongside Monday’s boarders. A knee replacement precluded her from taking a whirl, not that she didn’t think about it.

“If I were 15 years younger, I would do that in a minute,” she said.

More importantly, the GolfBoard riders didn’t interfere with her round.

“We were curious how it was going to be,” Warren said. “We were pleasantly surprised it wasn’t a distraction. Wheelies in the middle of the fairway would have been a problem, but if you are playing golf like you are supposed to, it’s fine.”

Lincoln Hills is one of 10 courses nationwide that Billy Casper Golf, its management company, has chosen to try GolfBoards. Available since April 2014, they’re offered at 120 courses. More than 300 more private, daily-fee and resort courses are scheduled to get them within the next three months, the company says.

They seem particularly suited to resort courses.

“I can’t wait to be cruising along the ocean in Hawaii,” Fitzwater said.

The GolfBoard costs roughly $7,000. Lincoln Hills, which bundles its green fee with its cart fee, charges an additional $10 to use one. Peterson said most users are between 30 to 40 years old but that he’s rented to a 15-year-old – and a 76-year-old has rented twice.

One possible downside is that alcohol consumption is not allowed by GolfBoard users.

“You’ll have to wait until the 19th hole to get your beer, Steve,” Peterson said.

Even so, the wave is coming.

Steve Pajak: 916-326-5526, @Steve_Pajak