BUTLER, Pa. (KDKA) — With the U.S. Open coming to Oakmont Country Club next week, local golfers are even more excited about the game.
But golf has been losing one million players a year for the last five years, and there’s a push to get new players involved.
One way pros are trying to get people back to the course is called the “GolfBoard,” and it’s quickly becoming all the rage.
Golf is the epitome of tradition, but it’s getting a hip twist with this new toy tooling around the course.
Butler Country Club Pro Rob McClellan is an expert on the GolfBoard.
“They’re pretty simple to use; you’re just kind of like riding a skateboard,” says McClellan. “We have a stability bar for you to hold onto.”
The GolfBoard has two gears, forward and backward. It has no brake, but slows to a stop when you take your thumb off the throttle. The maximum speed is 10 miles an hour.
Golfer Joe Cassidy was a little skeptical of the GolfBoard at first.
“I was like, what the heck are we gonna do with that?” said Cassidy. “I didn’t use it at first ‘cause I was a little nervous. But as it went on in summer, I tried it out and I loved it.”
Anyone can do it. Players in their 80s use it.
Vern Lennon shows his friends videos of GolfBoarding.
“They say, ‘Hey, that’s not real, that’s a joke,’ and then you get up here and they’re just laughing and having fun and taking pictures of each other and sending them back to their families,” said Lennon.
In addition to the fun, GolfBoarding speeds up play.
Those 18 holes in a cart or by foot can take four hours to play, but the average time on a GolfBoard is just two hours and 37 minutes.
KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen: “Do you think if this does take off, whether it’s here or Florida or across the country, that it can make a difference in bringing people to golf?
Lennon: “Absolutely, 100 percent. One, because of the time. I think especially with millennials. People are less interested in spending four, five hours doing one thing out on the golf course. If you can shorten that down to 2.5 hours, and then add some ancillary fun in, I can’t see why not.”
McClellan likes it because it’s good on the grass.
“They’re not as heavy as golf carts, and since there’s no breaking system on them, you can’t slam on the brakes and ruin the turf,” he says. “They’re not as heavy, so if we’ve had some rain, sometimes we can’t get the carts out ‘cause it’s too wet, so we can get the GolfBoards out.”
You have to watch out for sand traps and trees, but it’s almost impossible to tip over. No one has been injured on any GolfBoards around the country.
“We’ve had a lot less accidents with this than we’ve had with regular golf carts,” said McClellan.
For more information on the GolfBoard, visit this link!
The founder of the GolfBoard is 83. He’s an elite athlete and wanted to entice a friend who is a surfer to play golf, so he suggested they travel the course on electric skateboards. That was the birth of the idea.