Single Rider Era

This page will discuss the following topics

  • The golf industry and single rider devices
  • Disadvantages of most of the early designs
  • Advantages of ebikes
  • Past electric bicycles used for golf

Common Sense Starting Point

Back in the 1930’s when golf carts were being invented, no one said, “Let’s put 2 people in a cart so one of them can sit and wait half the time!” But that is what happened. They weren’t thinking of today’s pace of life and the many activities competing for leisure time. It is time to change that. If each golfer had his or her own wheels, we would eliminate sitting a waiting, and easily trim 1/3rd to 1/2 the time it takes to play a round of golf! We are not advocating rushing this wonderful game. WE ARE ONLY ADVOCATING ELIMINATING SITTING, WAITING, AND WATCHING OTHER PEOPLE PLAY.

And for those who like to get some exercise while playing, ebikes provide that…as much or as little. You don’t have to pedal. You can just use the throttle and ride if you want to.

Golf is on a 20-year decline with the exception of the “Covid bounce” which is now wearing off.   As that settles back down, the metrics that have caused the decline are all the more valid as shorter-time entertainment options are increasing.

There are several reasons for the decline, but the main ones are:

  1. It takes too long to play, and there are other activities competing for that kind of time.
  2. 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.

“The most expensive thing about golf is not the land. It isn’t the equipment. It isn’t the green fees. It is the time. As an industry, we MUST find ways to speed up the game.”

Steve Divnick, Inventor

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 course revenue. 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 themselves with their adult children. The golf industry cannot sustain this trend.

I am one of the guilty seniors. I have 3 sons in their 40’s. They enjoy playing golf, but they just don’t have 5 hours in a day to do it. It is the same for my retired golfing buddies…their children are not playing nearly as much as they do. No wonder the industry is in a decline.

The golf industry has been trying to find ways to speed up the game such as playing just 9 holes. But that hasn’t caught on and is too disruptive for those playing 18. The single-rider devices introduced in the past few years have had promise in theory, and have offered a “cool” factor, but they haven’t made their way into the golf mainstream because they are far too expensive. So they are mostly limited to a few higher-end courses. But the majority of courses and muni’s just haven’t been able to afford them.

All single-rider devices speed up the game because the rider can go straight to his or her own ball and avoid sitting half the time. But they are just too expensive, and they don’t provide exercise that so many want. It is easy to play 18 holes in under 2 hours without rushing…just eliminating the wait time. Imagine how many more golfers you could put out a day with that kind of pace? And imagine how that would also attract more people to come play because it wouldn’t take so long.

There are growing numbers of industry articles promoting single-rider golf options as a necessity for the future of golf . 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.

Rick Reimers, developer of the Finn Scooter 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.” We agree with him.

Traditional golf carts were first introduced in the 1930’s and it took 30 years before they were commonplace. The resistance was huge because golf was a game played with caddies…not noisy motorized carts. But it never made sense to put two golfers in one cart because that guarantees one of them has to sit and wait half the time!

Ebikes are the Solution

DivnickGolf believes ebikes will become the norm much faster than golf carts for some very important reasons:

  1. The golf industry knows it needs to speed up the game to survive
  2. Ebikes are proliferating around the world OUTSIDE of golf so that global popularity is driving the price down whether the golf industry uses them or not
  3. With Intelligent Pedal Assist and Throttles, they provide as much or as little exercise as the golfer wants
  4. They are comfortable and safe
  5. They are great fun!

Fitted with the DivnickGolf Quick-Attach Golf Bag Carrier, ebikes are a perfect solution.

Simply stated, ebikes are the best single rider device for golf.

“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

Reality Check

The promise of single-rider devices introduced a few years ago was to speed the game by getting everyone on or in their own wheeled vehicle.  But the promise hasn’t been delivered, primarily because of the cost.  Even though all single rider devices will speed up play, it hasn’t happened on a large enough scale. And even on the courses that can afford them, only a few players use them, and that won’t speed up the pace of the course. The speed of the course is only as fast as the slowest group. The game won’t really speed up for everyone until everyone can ride to their own shot. And the industry won’t attract new younger players until it can promise faster rounds. Merely “wanting” to speed up the game hasn’t worked. Affordable Ebikes are the solution.

I would add here that golf courses don’t have to bear the capital cost for everyone like they do with carts. Many golfers already own their own ebike, and ebike sales are growing exponentially. Some golfers will jump at the chance to get their own when they see how much fun it is to use on the golf course. This will help get more people riding to their own ball and avoiding sitting half the time. We have already seen a surge of NEW GOLFERS come from the ebike community and bring NEW MONEY to golf courses.

Of course, the forward-thinking golf courses will want to join the revenue party, get some ebikes, and rent them out.

We are practical. We know that not every golfer will want to ride a bike. Many will prefer a traditional riding cart. But the more that do ride a bike or any other single-rider device, with the other golfers riding solo in carts, the faster the rounds, the faster the course, the more attractive it will be to the younger generation, the more rounds can be sold each day, and the better chance the industry has of remaining a sport for everyone and not just the elite.

When a foursome has their own wheels, it is easy to play an 18-hole round in about 2 hours without rushing.  If the whole course is moving at that pace, or maybe 2 1/2 hours, the golf course can put a LOT more golfers out in a day.  That is what we mean by ebikes increasing golf course revenue.

We are not advocating rushing.

Golf is a game to be enjoyed.

We just want to eliminate sitting and waiting
half the time watching someone else play golf.

Ebikes are just what the golf industry needs to attract new young golfers!

Compare Electric Bag Carts

Some people ask how single-rider options compare to motorized bag carts. Of course, you can’t ride a bag cart, but they do provide a cost comparison that makes ebikes even more appealing. Below is an example of a good quality bag cart available from Costco for $1599.99 which is MORE than the cost of the Heybike Ranger! How can this be? The answer is volume…economies-of-scale. Ebikes are popular all over the world. Millions are being manufactured. Volume brings competition, and competition always lowers cost. I have a friend who has purchased one of these bag carts. After the first couple of holes watching me ride my ebike and using the bag carrier as a kick stand he said, “Hey, I got ripped off! I can’t even ride this thing, and you still get exercise with your bike!” That sums it up pretty well.

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 the picture. Unfortunately, this makes it very top-heavy which is a problem for the conventional kick stand. These bikes fall over easily, 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 picture was introduced. These are pedal-only 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 require 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 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 had modest success.

The three men in this picture purchased their green pedal golf bikes and quickly discovered 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, the motors are not integrated into the pedals, they have 3 inch tires and no front shocks, the bikes don’t fold, and they have as much money tied up in their bikes as the much better equipped Heybike Ranger. But what I love about what these men did 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. During a round of golf, you will have 50 to 60 swing shots (not including putts), so operating a conventional kick stand with your foot every time you stop would be a real hassle. 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, never sinks into soft ground, locks your bike in place even on uneven ground, and it automatically pivots back to vertical when you take off.

One of the most often-asked questions is, “Does the weight of the bag make it difficult to balance?” Not at all. You don’t even feel it. 

As kids, we all remember placing our left foot on the pedal, pushing off, then swinging our leg over the seat. But we could also coast just standing on the pedal without ever thinking about balancing.

Balance is automatic.

There are some pretty interesting golf rider devices that have been seen on golf courses…some impractical and just for exhibition. Bubba Watson has been seen in a Jet Pack and Hovercraft. While these things will never make their way on a golf course in any common-use fashion, they demonstrate the interest in single rider devices…all with the goal of speeding up the game.

We had a little fun with an old picture of a lady riding a motorized 2-wheel scooter from over 100 years ago.

With a little photo management, we added a golf bag and 4 old clubs on the front.

Clearly, these devices were ahead of their time.  They were originally promoted as a fast way to get around in the city. They were used by the post office, police, and and private citizens, no doubt just the wealthy.  This all happened about the same time as the automobile was becoming popular.  It has taken 100 years, but now there are scooters and ebikes available for rent in most large cities, and millions of them are owned by ordinary people throughout the world, as the prices are very affordable.

If you want to read more about it, check out this article from the Daily Mail.