The innovative device aims to replace the golf cart 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 said 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.
“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.
“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.