I’m cruising down the first fairway at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa’s Champions Course at 20 miles per hour. The Southern California breeze is blowing in my face as I’m sitting aboard one of the resort’s new Phat Golf Scooter single-rider electric vehicles. It’s exhilarating, to say the least.
Essentially, this is a pedal-less, throttle-powered, 200-pound electric bicycle. It’s incredibly easy and intuitive to operate. Plus, it’s whisper-quiet and gives you a cushioned, smooth ride. And its oversized tires offer a sense of stability, to say the least. At La Costa, you can ride the scooter on fairways even where the “cart path only” signs are up. And you can drive them right up to the green. They don’t leave tire marks. And best of all, they can speed up play. With no one ahead to slow us down, our group played 18 holes in less than three-and-a-half hours. That’s an hour ahead of pace. And we took our time. That’s because after you shoot, you can drive directly to your ball without needing to drop off a playing partner at his or her ball. It can be a significant time-saver. Plus with the speed of the scooter, you can make it to your next shot in a matter of seconds.
Speaking of speed, there are three modes that top off at 8, 12 and 20 miles per hour, respectively. Mind you, I’m used to riding electric bikes. So I acclimated to the top mode in no time. One of my playing partners had never been on an electric bike. So he kept it in low mode the whole day — and said he felt comfortable on it from moment one. Turning tight corners was never an issue. Nor was going over bumps. The only thing I would change on it would be the kickstand: It was a little bit laborious engaging the manual, two-sided kickstand every time I got off the scooter. I’m confident the Tempe, Arizona-based company will come up with a solution for that soon.
“They’re working on it,” says Dustin Irwin, PGA Director of Golf at La Costa. “This is the second version we’ve tried and it’s way better than the first one we had.” La Costa also has a fleet of GolfBoards, which are like electric skateboards with handles and bag holders. “We’re trying to change our vibe here,” says Irwin. “There were only two other courses within 50 miles using the GolfBoard, so we knew getting it here along with the scooters would bring us new customers and give us something unique. We’re just trying to break the mold of being traditional, and are already looking at other single-golfer transportation modes to bring on-board. I’m all for trying anything that gets people here to play golf. We’ve already heard from several guests who came to play golf just so they could try the Phat Scooter.”
What I liked best about Phat Golf Scooter: It helped me focus more on my own game. Driving only to my ball, I had extra time to figure out which club I needed to hit next and where I wanted the ball to land. Believe me, I’m slow to adapt to things. But I will take the scooter out again for a golf round, at the next opportunity.
According to the company’s website, Phat Golf Scooter is now offered at 17 courses around America. Hopefully that list grows quickly — I think golfers will become hooked.