There’s an old saying, perfect for T-shirts, about riding motorcycles that says, “Four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul.”
Just imagine the feeling on a golf course – just you, your golf bag and a two-wheeler that can go anywhere on the course.
Wind in your hair (or what’s left of your hair), throttle under your right thumb and the feeling that even if you’ve hit your golf ball someplace you shouldn’t have, hopping on the bike (it’s more like a scooter) and zipping to the next shot is, if not liberating, it’s downright fun.
Is it traditional?
No. But neither was listening to music while you play, and now clubs are adding sound systems to their practice areas.
Is it crazy?
It makes a lot more sense than trying to carry that water hazard 200 yards away.
“This is really cool, especially now,” said Kelly Miller, president of Pine Needles Lodge and Mid Pines, where the resorts have 16 Finn cycles and are adding another eight to meet demand.
That’s exactly what using a golf cycle is – it’s cool.
Here are the basics:
Finn Cycles are a part of Sun Mountain Sports and they are one-person golf cycles designed to carry a golf bag and a rider. There is a big wheel in the front and a smaller one in the back giving the cycle the look of a true motorcycle.
The throttle is mounted on the handlebar where your right thumb sits and there are brake controls on both sides of the handlebar like on a bicycle. The cycles run on lithium batteries and, while they look like they can fly, they go no faster than a golf cart. They look faster than they are.
If you’re worried about them being dangerous, they are designed with their wide wheels and low base to be sturdy and easy to control. Any trepidation you might feel initially is gone by the time you’ve driven your cycle to where your opening tee shot came to rest.
The Finn Cycles already are available at approximately 75 courses throughout the country with more coming online. No one is suggesting these things belong at Seminole or Cypress Point, but they are fun and, in this age of social distancing, a perfect mode of transportation around a golf course.
One other thing: They speed up play.
When I played Pine Needles with Miller recently, the two of us buzzed around in two hours exactly. Granted, we had no players in front of us but because you can take the cycles anywhere but on putting surfaces, each player can drive directly to their ball and be ready to go.
At Pine Needles and Mid Pines, Miller said, they are booking the cycles early in the day because players can get around the course so quickly. The demand is such that reservations need to be made in advance to secure one of the cycles (they cost $26 a round and players sign a waiver).
When I played on the cycle, I found myself less worried about how I was playing and more interested in when I could hop back on the bike and go motoring down the fairway.
When we finished, golfers waiting to tee off came by to look at the cycles and asked about using them. They seem as popular as free cocktails.
No one is suggesting these machines are going to replace traditional golf carts or caddies but it’s another innovation for a game that is evolving from its old ways.
“When I saw these things, I was intrigued and I thought it would be cool to try,” Miller said. “Since the pandemic has happened, these things have been really popular.
“On social media there have been some people who don’t like this because they are traditionalists and I understand that. But I remember a friend of mine who is a very successful businessman telling me that if you’re looking out for your business long-term, your customer is not your current customer. It’s your customer 20 years down the road.
“It’s a little like walking a tightrope, maintaining the traditions that people like but also being prepared to transition to the future. It’s like music on the course. Some people love it. Some can’t stand it. My kids got me into (it) and now I love playing with music.”
If you’re of a certain age, maybe you can hear Steppenwolf in your head (“Get your motor running, head out on the highway … ”) with visions of Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider.
And, if you are of that slightly older generation, don’t be afraid of golf on a two-wheeler. The open fairway is calling.
Top photo: Courtesy Finn Cycles
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