Last-Minute Gift Ideas From the Golf Digest Time Machine

GD Xmas Sears cart 12-058In the 1950s and early 1960s, the golf world underwent a Cambrian Explosion of golf-cart designs. (All these advertisements are from issues of Golf Digest.) Lots of different ideas were tried and rejected, and lots of companies went extinct—even ones that had the backing of celebrities:

GD Bob Hope cart 7-59

Bobcats must have been fun (and loud), and until you got yelled at you could hold intra-foursome races. For women, there was a version with training wheels:

GD Scooter 3 10-59

Ben Hogan was a fan of the new machines, since (apparently) he believed that walking spoiled golf for many players:

GD Cushman 6-58

Most early models had three wheels. A few had roofs:

GD covered cart 11-57

There were many gasoline-powered versions. You turned them off when you got to your ball, the keep the noise down:

GD Walker cart 4-59

This one—for a single golfer—had a “multi-baffled muffler”:

GD Springfield cart 7-61

Most one-player gasoline-powered carts were more expensive, as the one below was. But it weighed just a hundred pounds, and it folded so compactly that you could carry two of them in the trunk of your car:

GD Folding Cart 12-61

There were also powered carts for golfers who, Ben Hogan notwithstanding, insisted on walking. This one held two bags:

GD Electric hand cart 5-59

Unless you had one of the folding ones, you needed one of these to get your cart to and from the club:

GD Cart trailer 8-59

And if your cart was one of the electric ones you probably were wise to buy a spare one of these, as a backup:

GD Delco cart batteries 4-61Merry Christmas to all!

Reader’s Trip Report: North Carolina

Graham Stevens, a reader, sent the following report. He doesn’t name the course, but I’ve encountered the same policy and it drives me bats.

I called a semi-private course I’d never played near the mountain town I was visiting on vacation, and made my usual request: “I would love to be first out. I play fast and I’m a solid golfer (6 handicap). I will play with anyone from any tees as long as they play fast, too. My typical rounds take less than two hours when I play by myself, and I hate playing in more than three hours.”

They said, “No problem. We’ll see you at 7:30 and take good care of you.”

I showed up a little after 7:00 and the guy at the pro shop was great. He gave me tips on which holes were quirky, and told me how to get to the practice areas and the first tee.

At my allotted time, I striped one down the middle. As I walked toward my drive, though, three carts came racing over the tee boxes and down the hill. Their drivers—the entire early-morning staff of the clubhouse—were shouting, “Wait!” “Sir!” “Excuse me!”

The starter, breathing hard, explained that I couldn’t walk. I told him that I had perfectly good legs and that I could walk. He said he couldn’t let me go off first unless I took a cart. I told him I would play faster on foot. He said that wasn’t possible on a mountain course. I said, “I bet you $5,000 I can play faster walking than riding on this course.”

He pleaded with me: “Please, sir, I can lose my job if someone sees you walking.”

I have heard a lot of crazy excuses, but this was a first. 

In the end, I didn’t want to argue. I love this time of day for the solitude, long shadows, and fresh moist air, not for endless irrational discussions. More important, I wanted to play quickly and get back home before my wife and daughter noticed I was missing. I took the cart and played 18 holes in an hour and fifty-one minutes. The starter (still employed!) approached me after I putted out on 18 and he said, “Wow, that was fast!”

I told him, “I would have been in my car ten minutes ago if you had let me walk.”

He smiled and said, “I appreciate you being accommodating this morning and I hope you will come back and see us.”

I said, “You have a great golf course here on a beautiful piece of land, but there is not a chance I will be back unless you change your policy on walking.”