The surfing icon and board-sport innovator Laird Hamilton has challenged convention once again, not by dropping in on the monstrous mountains of water at Jaws or Teahupoʻo, but by gliding down the fairways on his GolfBoard—an exciting stand-up alternative to the standard golf cart. Curious as to how an extreme-sport athlete could add adrenaline to a game whose main excitement comes when the beverage cart rolls by, Robb Report’s editorial director Bruce Wallin and I caught up with Hamilton to see for ourselves.
Near the tee box of the first hole at Westlake Golf Course, in Westlake Village, Calif., we were met by Hamilton and GolfBoard’s co-creator Don Wildman, founder of Bally’s Total Fitness. A lean and muscular 85-year-old, Wildman had first invited Hamilton to join him at the Malibu Golf Course a few years ago to tackle the hilly links using electric skateboards. Riding the wave of inspiration that followed, the two set out to create a new form of conveyance for the game.
Essentially an oversized skateboard deck mounted on four all-terrain wheels, the GolfBoard is powered by a lithium-ion battery—good for up to 18 miles per charge—and is capable of traveling up to 14 mph. Like when riding a surfboard or snowboard, direction is dictated by shifting body weight from edge to edge. It can also be ridden with feet placed parallel as if skiing. Speed is controlled from the thumb throttle mounted on the handlebar, and the four-wheel drive, positive-traction drivetrain supplies enhanced stability.
“Surfing and golf have a lot more in common than you would think,” explains Hamilton. “Both sports require core strength and proper mindset. The GolfBoard keeps the abdominals engaged between shots as opposed to sitting in a golf cart—one of the worst body positions to be in before standing and twisting repeatedly.”
Along with the board’s physiological perks, it brings balance to the mental game as well. “Because the GolfBoard requires attention to operate, it’s a healthy distraction,” says Hamilton. “Good players report better scores since they are not dwelling excessively on their next shot.”
The golf course also benefits. With each individual heading toward their own ball simultaneously, the pace of play is greatly increased, with a round of 18 holes possible in 2.5 hours. This also enables more groups to go out. And the 115-pound GolfBoard offers 30-percent less wear and tear on the turf than its heavier counterparts.
Courses across the nation have been responding in ever-increasing numbers, as have individual players looking to lower their score and heighten the fun. After spending time carving around trees and floating over the fairway for myself, it was clear that this was a game-changer for golf—even more than the beverage cart. (golfboard.com)