As businesses reopen around the country, brands are pivoting to meet the new demands of social distancing. Even golf, a sport known for being traditional and slow to change, is adapting to restrictions imposed due the coronavirus pandemic.
When courses began to reopen, they were open to walkers only. Soon thereafter, golf carts became available, but only for single riders. Enter the single rider golf cart movement.
One company poised to grow, in response to social distancing measures is Phat Scooters, which introduced its golf-specific single rider scooter three years ago. President Derrick Mains admits the reception was slow going at first. Most golf courses already had group carts, and golf is not a sport known for embracing change.
“All of a sudden the golf cart is potentially a paperweight or a liability,” Mains told ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren. “Even from the courses that would traditionally tell us never in a million years, now all of a sudden they’re telling us, ‘Maybe we’ll use them.'”
Aside from meeting the need for social distancing, the scooters have other obvious benefits. Players enjoy a faster pace of golf, because each person can hit off the tee and then head directly to their own ball. With a group cart, players zig zag back and forth across the course if one player slices and the other hooks, to reach everyone’s ball. By allowing each player to follow only their own ball, the scooters dramatically speed up the play of the game.
Greenskeepers also appreciate the lower impact to the course. Since scooters weigh about one-tenth the weight of a traditional golf cart, they create less wear and tear on the course. That means fewer bumps and ridges on the fairway, and less maintenance.
Courses that introduced the scooters before the pandemic say that users find they’re more fun, too. What started as a potential fun and affordable new trend in golfing has now become a solution to the problem of social distancing on the golf course. With the added benefits of faster play and lower impact to the course, it feels like an idea ready to take off.
“We’re now recognizing that the pivot point has occurred,” said Mains of Phat Scooters. The way you drive the course–yourself, not the ball–seems likely to be the next big change in golf.