A Bit of Golf Cart History
The golf cart has an interesting history. Conceived as a three-wheeled electric cart in Los Angeles to transport senior citizens to the grocery store, it had nothing to do with golf.
Adapting the ‘senior shopping vehicle’ was attempted by John Keener Wadley, of Texarkana, Arkansas, a lumber, railroad, and oil baron listed as one of the wealthiest men in the United States. Wadley, seeing them on the streets of LA, tried using the cart on his club’s course, without modifications. That didn’t work too well, so he engaged engineers to modify the design.
Therefore, the first electric cart, designed specifically for golf, was custom-made in 1932. Like all radically new ideas, “I thought golf was for exercise, now we drive to each of the eighteen holes, nonsense old man,” it did not gain widespread acceptance until the 1950s. However, the most widespread use of golf carts was still not on the links but again for those, who, for various reasons, could not walk far.
By the 1950s the golf cart had gained wide acceptance with golfers, with several manufactures (e.g. Victor Adding Machine Co. and Sears Roebuck) producing various models.
In 1951 the Marketeer Company began production of an electric golf cart in Redlands, California. E-Z-Go began in 1954, Cushman in 1955, Club Car in 1958, Taylor-Dunn in 1961, Harley-Davidson in 1963, Yamaha Golf Car in 1979 and CT&T in 2002.
By 1960 the son of the golfer who refused a ride in 1932 looked astounded when he entered a tournament played, according to PGA rules, and was informed he must walk the course, “I thought golf was for socializing not exhaustive labor, we must walk to each of the eighteen holes? Nonsense old man, get me a golf cart…make sure it has a cup holder for my beverage.”
The Golf Cart Returns To Its Beginnings
Here in the Lowcountry, an area that has been dubbed by many as The World’s Golfing Paradise, most of the dozens of courses are in communities. It has not been a surprising progression for the golfer, who leaves home early in the morning to play eighteen holes, to visit other spots in the community during the balance of the day, after the game, via golf cart.
What was not anticipated was the extent that people would begin to use the golf cart as their preferred mode of transportation for all travel within their community and for short runs outside their community.
The largest community in the Bluffton/Hilton Head area, and home to the most extensive use of the golf cart as transportation, is the Pulte/Del Webb community of over seventy-five hundred homes, Sun City Hilton Head. With three golf courses that are always booked it is understandable how residents use their carts to do everything from go to the gyms or pools to shopping in the nearby and golf-cart accessible shopping centers. But it is also not uncommon to see ten to fifteen carts parked in front of the local restaurants that are accessible via golf cart.
Of course, this resulted in a robust business modifying the appearance of golf carts. The customization runs the gamut from a replica of your favorite family vehicle to a classic based on the design of the vehicle you always wanted.
The use of golf carts as general transportation, internal to communities and short distances outside of the communities’ boundaries (A permitted golf cart may be operated within four miles of a point of ingress and egress to a gated community and only on a secondary highway or street for which the posted speed limit is thirty-five miles an hour or less.) has become popular in communities without a golf course. Another Pulte/Del Webb community in Bluffton, The Haven at New Riverside, a development of five-hundred homes, has no golf facilities but many of the residents have golf carts for internal transportation, and several of the homes have special golf cart garages.
The other extreme is Daufuskie Island where golf carts are the primary means of transportation for the residents. Getting on and off the island is via ferries that do not accommodate vehicles.
Other golf cart friendly communities in the Bluffton/Hilton Head area, with and without golfing facilities: (This list is subject to change in accordance with the rules of the individual communities and South Carolina/Beaufort County Law.)
- Berkeley Hall
- Colleton River
- Haig Point
- Indigo Run
- Moss Creek
- Palmetto Bluff
- Palmetto Hall
- Rose Dhu Creek
- Rose Hill
- Spanish Wells
- Windmill Harbour
Now that I have pointed out the fun and convenience of living in a golf cart friendly community, I feel obliged to point out a very important aspect of using a golf cart for transportation off the course paths, including outside the community.
South Carolina law governing Specialized Vehicles (the vehicle class that includes golf carts) is extensive and quite specific. Further, since November 19, 2018, violation of those laws carries penalties that can be expensive and really ruin your outing.
Rather than try to summarize and surely miss some aspect of the traffic laws and ordinances I will leave it to the interested reader to go directly to the source at: www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t56c002.php
Finally, my research took me to a vehicle that provides the capabilities of golf carting for the entire family…all at once!
For more information about Bluffton & Hilton Head Golf Cart Friendly Communities, please contact Bill True online or call 1-843-384-9088 to get in touch with a qualified Bluffton/Hilton Head area real estate professional.