According to technical definitions a golf cart (also known as a golf car) is a vehicle designed to transport two golfers and their clubs on a golf course. This basic definition doesn't fit some of the new and interesting versions of what was once just a recreational tool.
Most golf carts weigh about 1,000 or a bit less, with gasoline versions using a four-stroke engine and electrical versions using a battery pack.
The first golf carts were powered by electricity from multiple batteries but some manufacturers began to offer gasoline-powered versions. Many people still insist on using only the electrical version due to lack of pollution and noise.
Battery manufacturers and suppliers provide six-volt batteries, eight-volt batteries and 12-volt deep-cycle batteries that are designed to be recharged on a regular basis. AGM batteries, while more expensive, have been the battery of choice for many top-line manufacturers.
Some communities have produced guidelines for use of golf carts on public streets, though the operating limits are strictly defined. Golf-cart drivers are limited to low speeds and use may be restricted to residential streets only.
In fact, this type of transportation has been given its own category - Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV).
Motorized golf cars or carts have reportedly been around for nearly 80 years, but the idea probably came from the electric cart used by older folks who needed to get to the store without walking.
Some of the first models had a single front wheel and steering was managed by a lever/handle. There were some problems with stability and overturning with this design. Today, golf carts have four-wheels, except in rare situations.
A California man is credited with many of the innovations in golf cart design. Reportedly, Merle Williams began producing electric cars/carts in the early 1950s. Companies such as Club Car, Cushman, Yamaha and Harley Davidson soon joined in.
A company called E-Z-GO started making golf cars in the mid-1950s. That company has grown from a one-room shop to become a world leader in light-duty transportation.
Neighborhood electric vehicles: Street-legal, zero-emission
Several major manufacturers now produce street-legal carts that offer zero-emission operation. These same companies also manufacture four-wheel models for other uses, some powered by gasoline engines.
These model lines have become quite popular in the agricultural community, for landscaping and in the construction industry. One manufacturer, Club Car, lists "commercial utility vehicles, multi-passenger shuttle vehicles, and rough-terrain and off-road utility vehicles" among its models.
Essential information about those cute vehicles
There is some difference of opinion about using golf carts away from the golf course.
As we mentioned, some communities have encouraged the use of light electric vehicles in certain neighborhoods. Other communities have not taken this step, citing the increased risk of injury and property damage that comes with using these vehicles on public streets.
One study shows that half of the injuries sustained from golf-cart operation occurred away from the golf course.
Golf cart speed limits are generally held under 25 mph and some communities consider this type of transportation safer than riding a bicycle. But before you start driving your electric cart on the street, make sure your vehicle is street legal.
Inspection may be necessary. Some municipalities require a separate license and title for vehicles of this type.
What's the price for a neighborhood electric vehicle?
Prices for golf carts vary widely, depending on features and accessories. But you should be safe starting with about $3,000 and working your way up. Some of the most elaborate carts and cars may cost as much as $12,000 to $15,000.
Owners often modify or accessorize with
- carriers for drink coolers
- and speed-increasing controller kits.
One of the most common uses for golf carts in recent years is retirement-community transportation. These areas are often closed to public traffic and gated so low-speed, electric vehicles are ideal for getting around.
Some resorts and retirement communities have a cart-rental operation that limits regular automobile traffic and provides much-needed transportation to senior citizens.