BOSTON, Mass – Do you think golf courses would be interested in golfers playing faster and safer during the pandemic?
Would courses also like to have golfers be welcomed by name on their cell phones when they arrive and be offered purchase options as they ride during their rounds?
Carl Olson and Jim Lang believe they would and they can make it happen at no cost to the courses. If this sounds like space-age technology, it is. Olson and Lang have worked in the aerospace field for 30 years. They manufactured an electronic, dimmable window for aircrafts and they developed an in-flight entertainment and cabin management system for corporate jets that allows people to control everything through a mobile app.
The two engineers and golf enthusiasts had been working on an electric vehicle when COVID hit so they started designing the s6 EV single-rider golf cart instead.
“We’ve taken a lot of our aerospace knowledge and technology and put it towards this single-rider vehicle,” Lang said.
Olson, 68, of Pittsfield and Lang, 51, of Beckett own Golfwurx in Pittsfield, (Mass.) which has developed the s6 EV, which sells for $3,695.
Olson and Lang expect the bulk of their business to come from dealers and golf courses. The courses don’t have to pay anything for the carts, they just split the recommended $30, 18-hole rental fee with Golfwurx.
Golf legend John Daly liked the s6 EV so much, he’s endorsing it. On April 22 in Nashville, Olson and Lang plan to donate a single-rider cart to each flight champion in the John Daly Birthday Bash, an event on the MoBetta Golf Tour that Daly helped create.
“He’ll be signing autographs and hanging out and having beers with us so it should be a lot of fun,” Lang said.
Olson and Lang found that other single-rider carts have two wheels, like a motorcycle, but they decided to build the s6 EV with three to make it easier to mount and drive. The s6 EV can park on unlevel ground and has no kickstand that could damage the turf. Olson said the s6 EV resembles a tricycle, but a high-powered one.
“When COVID hit,” Olson said, “it was a mixed blessing. You had a lot of illness, but golf was one of the few sports where you could actually get out there and safely enjoy it.”
But to maintain social distancing, many courses limited double-riding carts to one person, requiring the use of twice as many of them. Erecting costly shields between the driver and passenger was another option. Single-rider carts solve both of those problems.
Olson said the s6 EV will serve a purpose even after the pandemic ends by improving the pace of play – reducing the length of a round from 4-½ hours to as little as 3. Single riders save time by driving only to one golf ball, not two, and the s6 EV can travel faster than a double rider. The s6 EV can ride as fast as 30 miles an hour on roads, but will be limited to 13 mph on courses.
Each single-rider comes with a storage unit and room in back for two bags in case one golfer wants to walk.
Olson sees the single-rider cart as supplementing double-rider carts, not totally replacing them. So he and Lang urge courses to save the first few tee times each morning for single-rider carts so they don’t get stuck behind the slower double-rider carts.
Courses also have the option of charging more for those early tee times.
“We’re talking sub-three-hour rounds of golf,” Lang said. “People will pay a lot of money for that.”
The s6 EV weighs 175 pounds, compared to a double rider that weighs 800-1,000, and the s6 EV can carry 450 pounds. Lang said the superintendent at Wahconah CC drove the lightweight s6 EV with a leaf blower on greens and didn’t mark them up.
Each s6 EV comes with a weather-proof, shock-proof tablet with an 8-inch screen between the handlebars. This iCart hybrid software system, a takeoff of their iCabin app from their aerospace technology, provides a GPS and a lot more. Riders can order food from not only the kitchen for the turn, but from the beer cart which can meet them at the next hole. With the ICart app, golfers can also book tee times and view a live leaderboard during tournaments.
“The magic and the secret sauce that we have here,” Lang said, “ is that we’re giving the golf course for every single golfer eight opportunities to spend money.”
Golfers can also download the iCart app on their phones so when they pull into the parking lot, a notification pops up to welcome them by name and offer the chance to order food and drink before they tee off.
“So it knows what I like to drink and eat,” Lang said of the app.
The technology can be outfitted to all carts, single and double riders, and can recommend purchases eight times before, during and after each round. Golf courses don’t pay for the iCart, but they give a small percentage to Golfwurx for each purchase.
“The single riders are awesome,’ Lang said, “but the iCart ties everything together.”
The single-riders are equipped with two Bluetooth speakers that can be synced with a golfer’s music playlist on his or her phone – at a limited volume, of course. You can also charge your phone on your s6 EV, which can run on a battery for 36 holes.
“We’re not trying to sell these courses anything,” Lang said. “Ultimately, it’s how much more money they want to make. If they want to make 30 percent more than they did last year, then our system is the way to do it without investment upfront. It’s really tough to say no to free.”
Lang is a single-digit handicapper who once belonged to Wahconah Country Club in Dalton. Olson carries a higher handicap, but enjoys the game as well.
They’re busy manufacturing and marketing their single-rider golf carts and iCart systems so they haven’t had a lot of time to get out and play. So they installed a golf simulator in their shop.