Reshaping Golf Industry

The GolfBoard

The hybrid is already a staple in golf equipment and footwear and is about to take on another form with the introduction of the GolfBoard. It is neither a skateboard nor a golf cart, but a hybrid of sorts, featuring functions from both. It is an electric board on which the golfer rides in lieu of the traditional golf cart. 

But if you think it isn't a serious endeavor, consider this from the biography of Paul Anthony Tomaso Sr., GolfBoard's chief scientist and engineer. "It was kind of like a perfect storm," said Mike Radenbaugh, a co-founder of the company, explaining how the idea originated.

"We had been building electric skateboards for grass terrain and dirt terrain and made a connection with co-founder Don Wildman [the founder of Bally Total Fitness], who had been playing golf on an electric skateboard in Hawaii. He had been using what are very common, electric skateboards...all one-wheel drive and dangerous to ride.”

The GolfBoard is powerful, stable and safe, Radenbaugh said. "We use turf-saver tires, from commercial lawn mowers. They're designed for the turf and are wide and stable." The width of the board is 15 inches, contributing to a stable platform. It is operated with a wireless remote and has two speeds -- low (seven miles per hour) and high (11 miles per hour). 

It can be operated with a bag mount and stability handle or by carrying the clubs yourself. The reaction? "We haven't run into one course that hasn't been adamant at the very least about trying the board out on the course," Radenbaugh said. "They all have similar questions about liability and safety and durability. But we've got good answers for all of that." 

The initial objective was to entice new golfers to the game, "a totally radical new way to play golf," Radenbaugh said. It can still serve as an inducement to new, younger players, but the product has been tailored to golf "to make the game more enjoyable.” 

To help get the message out, surfing legend Laird Hamilton is on board as a design consultant and company spokesman. The idea is to sell the GolfBoard to individuals and to golf courses to hire them out, as they do golf carts. Its only apparent drawback? The cost: $3,595.


Golf Cart Hovercraft

This is the golf cart that glides over sand traps and water hazards on a cushion of air as easily as it does over fairways and the rough. Powered by a 65-hp twin-cylinder Hirth engine, its nine-blade axial-flow ducted fan propels the craft up to 45 mph and 9" off the ground without harming grass, allowing immediate crossing of a pond or stream to follow-up a cross-water shot. 

The fan's streamlined design minimizes noise, speeds up an 18-hole outing, and conveys four passengers beneath a lift-up roof and two golf bags in an open rear compartment. 

Motorcycle-style handlebars steer the craft, controlling its patented fly-by-wire reverse thrust system, which provides braking and backwards hovering up to 25 mph - the only hovercraft in the world to do so. 

Its low-profile, aerodynamic design minimizes air drag to maximize stability in crosswinds while its innovative skirt system employs individually handmade segments to provide optimal anti-plow and -scoop performance. 

The craft's fiberglass composite and urethane foam composite hull meets United States Coast Guard standards for reliable hovering over water. Includes trailer. Special conditions and guarantee limitations apply. 13' L x 7' W x 4' H.


Club Hub

Futuristic golf technology has arrived, in at least one way. It was just a few years ago that if you wanted detailed information about your swing, you’d have to go to a facility that was armed with a launch monitor -- and pay a pretty penny. 

Now you can get outstanding data about your golf swing and playing tendencies right on your smartphone. But you need a device that transmits data from the golf clubs to your phone. And there are several products that have hit the market, bridging that gap. 

ClubHub, starting its debut to consumers in early June. It comes in the form of 14 sensors that each screw into that little hole in the grip butt on each club. You quickly sync each club to the free sister app on your phone just once -- each club takes just a few seconds --- and then the app knows which sensor is in which club from there. There’s no other setup involved. 

The app is where the magic happens: Turn it on once you arrive at the course, select your course, and it recognizes the hole you’re playing while recording each swing you take. Somehow it detects the difference between a practice swing and one in which you hit the ball. 

And when you step up to hit your next shot, it maps the ball’s location and automatically calculates how far you hit your previous shot. All the while, it’s also recording data about every shot, including swing speed, face angle at impact, attack angle, tempo and transition angle from backswing to downswing. 

Not only does the easy-to-traverse app act as a GPS system while you’re playing, but it also displays aerial photos of each hole and maps your shots in sequenced numbers so that you can look back and see how you played a hole. It’s lightning fast and allows you to watch a 3-D animation of your swing immediately after you take it. By dragging your finger across the screen, you can change the animation’s viewing angle to better see your clubhead path. 

Until now, there have been several products on the market that accomplish some of these tasks. Three years ago, several shaft clips emerged that provided swing data, but didn’t map your shots. Then came sensors that mapped your shots, but didn’t provide swing data. 

ClubHub is the complete package. And while I’m not a golfer who focuses on swing data at all, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed using a beta version of this product for two months now to track and analyze my game tendencies. ClubHub will set you back $500, but that’s relatively more cost-effective than buying new clubs and taking lessons -- as many avid golfers tend to do when their game goes south.


Turning Shoe E-Drive Plus

Meet the Turning Shoe eDrive Plus: a smart shoe designed to reduce stress and impact to the body for golf and baseball players.

These are designed to promote natural motion and improve your performance. There is also an app that gathers data, allowing you to see how much progress you are making. 

These shoes have an Apple Watch app as well. More information is available on Kickstarter.