How to make golf more appealing to younger people has been a constant quandary for the industry. Tetherow Golf Club, in Bend, Ore., is now toying with a concept that seeks to eliminate between-hole boredom and give golfers of all ages a new way to experience the grounds.
The GolfBoard is a user-friendly electric board similar in shape and feel to a skateboard. GolfBoard CEO Paul Hodge is a member of Tetherow, and the club’s Owner and Managing Partner, Chris van der Velde, PGA, quickly jumped on board after seeing what Hodge’s company had created.
“I bought two, for my wife and myself; we have two demos at the club right now, and we’ll have 20 more on lease when the course opens on April 28,” says van der Velde, a former European Tour player who has coached the Dutch national golf team.
This past fall, Tetherow hosted a demo day where members of all ages could try out the new transportation. While van der Velde notes that a few people were a little wobbly on the boards, most members were “enamored by it.”
“I was a skateboarder, but I never snowboarded, and it took me one hole to pick up on how to use it,” van der Velde says. “The hardest thing to learn is that when you go downhill, you have to hold the trigger in, because you don’t go faster.”
The board itself measures 50” x 20” x 10”. Acceleration and braking are powered by a lightweight, handheld controller, and the rider’s own motion guides the steering. The GolfBoard is equipped with a stability handle for ease of use and holding golf bags or water. While riders do have the option of using the GolfBoard without the stability handle, van der Velde plans to require members to go through training sessions and pass a test before advancing.
“I have short practice holes, so I have them ride there to pass to the next level,” van der Velde says. “We want to make sure people are safe and ride with confidence.”
The GolfBoard can be fully charged in a half-hour, using a regular electrical outlet; van der Velde says he’s ridden 36 holes over Tetherow’s hilly terrain on one charge. The board has less impact on a course than a golf cart, the company says.
“It’s not going to change the game of golf, but I just turned 50, and I think it’s so much fun,” says van der Velde. “So I think it’s going to attract that young adult or teenager who’s sort of interested in golf, but gets bored out there.”