Choosing the Right Electric Golf Trolley for You – By Larry Swanson
Selecting from the wide range of Electric Golf Trolleys can be a daunting task. There is little independent research available, so how do you decide which one is the right one for you? Here are some tips to help guide you in that process.
Start by defining the features you want. Those features come with a price tag – so early in your selection process, decide a price range that you are comfortable with. Research the various models available; see how their features and specifications match your needs and price range.
If you are just wanting help in moving the clubs, you may be well satisfied with a manually-controlled cart. If convenience is what you are after, and don’t mind the extra cost, a Remote-Control Caddy may be what you are looking for. The good news is that the price gap between manually-controlled and remote-controlled trolleys has lessened in recent years.
With manual-control, the cart functions are controlled from a panel on the cart handle. And because you need to be close to the cart to advance or turn it your freedom of movement is limited. With remote-control, you control the carts motion with a wireless device about the size of a small TV remote, so you have more freedom of movement. However, you’ll need someplace to carry that remote device.
In choosing the right cart for you, I recommend that you first narrow down your choices to either "Manual or Remote-Control. This will make it easier and far less confusing. When you’ve decided which of these paths you’d like to so down, then look at these major factors: 1) Performance, 2) Control Features, and 3) Drive System.
1. Performance – determines how well your trolley moves the clubs over the course. Parameters are Climb-Capability (in degrees of slope), Operating Range (the number of holes you can play on a single battery charge, and Carrying Capacity (maximum carry weight). For Range you may see something like 18-27 holes which, usually means 18 holes on hilly and 27 holes on flat courses. Unless you plan to play only on flat courses, I recommend you look at carts rated a minimum of 27 holes. Regarding Climb-Capability -- for hilly courses look for a cart rated at least 20 degrees; 30 degrees is better. Regarding Carrying Capacity – look for carts rated at least 15 lbs. more than the max. weight of your bag & clubs. Performance Factors – Factors that determine performance are motor size in Watts, battery power in Amp-Hours (Ah) and cart/battery weight. For most courses a motor rated at 175 Watts should be adequate. Battery power can vary from ~20 Ah to ~ 40 Ah. For hilly courses look for batteries rated in the 30-40 Ah range.
2. Control Features: Below is a listing of the more commonly available control features. Usually the more you get, the more you pay. Look over these features, separate them into categories 1) “gotta have,” 2) “nice to have” and 3) “don’t need,” and then make your buying decision accordingly.
a. Basic control features available (Manual or Remote-Control carts):
- Variable forward speed – Available on all carts
- Distance Advance - Allows the cart to be advanced in its current direction a pre-selected distance (e.g. 10, 20, or 30 yards). Especially helpful around the green where, after you have your putter, you can automatically move the cart closer to the back of the green where you will be walking toward the next hole.
- Speed Memory – The cart returns to your pre-selected walking speed each time it is re-started from a stop.”
- Cruise Control – The cart maintains the same speed going up or downhill
- Electronic Brakes – A feature to help avoid “run-away carts.”
- Free-Wheeling – Enables disengaging power to operate like a push cart
b. Basic Features Available on Remote-Control Carts:
- Turning (Left and Right) – Controlled remotely
- Reverse Direction – Controlled remotely
c. Advanced Features Available:
- Torque Control – Enables smooth starts and stops – less jerking
- “Smart Start” – Starts at pre-set conditions
- Descent Control – Controls the speed of the cart during descent
- Automatic Shut-Off – Automatically shuts off if no remote command received in 40 seconds. Prevents run-away cart
- Electronic Tracking – Cart’s power and turns can be programmed to fit the characteristics of the course being played.
- Programmable speed settings – Allows one to select pre-programmed speed settings or program one’s own special speed setting.
d. Convenience features available:
- Battery Charge Indicator – A “peace of mind” feature
- LED Displays – For those who like a feeling of being more in control -
- Diagnostic Information – In case there is trouble
- Drive Wheels:
- The drive or powered wheel may be front or rear. Older designs often had front wheel drives. These then to have more slippage when going uphill because the weight of the cart is more rearward. However a good feature of front-wheel carts is they tend to tip over backwards less than rear wheel drives. For rear-wheel drive carts, look for a retractable or removable anti-tip rear wheel.
- Single or dual-drive wheels. Single drive wheels have less to control; however, power is generally limited to a single motor. Newer designs tend to be dual independent rear wheel drive – that is two drive wheels controlled independently by two separate motors. These have more power than the older single-wheel designs and advances in control technology make coordination of power to independently controlled wheels affordable.
- Other Factors: When you are satisfied that you understand these basic purchase decision factors you can and should consider other factors such as those listed below:
A. Construction Design and Materials: Look for sturdy, but lightweight construction Tubular steel frames are more rugged, but also weigh more. An aluminum frame is lighter than steel, but due to the soft finishing of the metal, it dents easily. A titanium frame is light and strong, but more expensive. Models made of anodized aluminum alloy frame with titanium finish might be a good choice for the occasional golfer. The every day golfer may want to consider a steel or titanium frame. A reinforced aluminum frame could also be a good choice.
B. Component Materials: Steel bag supports are generally stronger and longer lasting than thos med of ABS or other plastic materials.
C. Dimensions and Fold-ability: Check folded, unfolded dimensions to make sure the cart will fit into your car, and whether it is easy to setup and unfold. The cart should match your build and height and you should feel comfortable as you reach for the handle. The handle height should not strain your back or shoulders.
D. Weight: You want the trolley to be rugged, yet light enough to lift in and out of your car by yourself. So confirm the total weight of the cart including the battery.
E. Handle: Keep an eye on the handle design. Pick the handle that allows you to grab easily and operate especially if you are left-handed. Some models have a fingertip speed controller knob/ button which allows you amend the speed to match your pace.
F. Wheels and Tires: Wide tires tend to be more stable, slip less on wet grass, and are easier on the course. Trolleys with quick-release main wheels are easier to store and clean. Double-check to see if the cart you plan to purchase can be pushed in a free-wheeling mode.
G. Accessories: The cart you select has optional accessories. Some of these may be included with the cart, and that is worth taking into account in your buying decision. Among the more popular accessories are:
- Scorecard Holder
- Drink Holder
- Umbrella Holder
- Carry Bag
- Rain Cover
- Attachable/Detachable Seat
H. Warranty: Select a trolley with at least a one year warranty. Trolleys go through a lot during their life. The cheapest models may not be able to stand up to the tough duty. Higher-end (and higher priced) trolleys are likely to have a 2-year frame/parts warranty. Better batteries come with 1-year warranty. There may be a separate longer duration warranty for the motor.
I. After-Sale Service: Customer service and technical support are also worth considering before buying your golf trolley. Check customer reviews to see whether the trolley is reliable and the dealer is reputable. Make sure that there is someone ready to assist you professionally in case you need technical support if anything goes wrong with your trolley. I have found that sunrisegolfcarts.com provides a good selection, at excellent prices and superb customer service.
Having read this you now have the main ingredients for making a good informed decision about which trolley to purchase. Good Luck and Good Golfing!
About the Author:
Larry Swanson is an occasional golfer is married to an avid golfer and loves to cheer her on. He and his wife, Sun, live in Clarksville, Tennessee where they golf 10 months out of the year (even on some very cold days).