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Choosing the Right Electric Golf Trolley– By Larry Swanson

Selecting from the wide range of Electric Golf Trolleys can be a daunting task. The truth is that very little independent research is available. The question remains: how do you decide which one is right for you? Here are some tips to help you through the process.

The first step involves defining the features you want. Every feature comes with a price tag. Early on you’ll need to determine not only what features you want, but what your comfortable price range for those features is. In order to match up your desired features to your price range, you’ll need to conduct some research. Check out the various models available, and see how their features match your desired price.

If all you need is help moving the clubs, you may be satisfied with a manually-controlled electric caddy cart. If convenience is what you are after, and don’t mind the extra cost, a Remote-Control Golf Caddy may be what you are looking for. If you are looking for something high tech, you may consider caddies with features such as robot follow-me, touch control, and even GPS navigation. These special features are common on the top of the line golf caddies but require a larger budget. The good news is there is almost certainly a cart with the features you need in your price range.
With the manual-control style Electric Caddy, the cart’s operations are controlled by instruments on the cart handle. One of the difficulties with this design is the limitations on freedom of movement. The cart requires that the operator must be physically close to the cart in order to advance, stop or turn the machine. This demand on the operator’s location is eliminated with remote control electric caddies.

A remote control style caddy allows the operator to control the movement of the cart wirelessly. Thus the operator can move freely about the course. The remote controller for these caddies is relatively small which makes for convenient carrying. However, be careful not to let it slide into your pocket and accidentally roll your trolley in an unexpected direction.

In choosing the right cart for you, I recommend first narrowing down your choices to either Manual or Remote-Control. This will ultimately simplify the decision process. Once you’ve decided on one of these two, you will want to continue by considering the 4 major factors, and a few miscellaneous factors, of electric caddy design:
  1. Performance
  2. Control Features
  3. Battery Technology
  4. Weight
  5. Miscellaneous
Let’s take a moment and breakdown each of these factors.

1) Performance: This factor involves just how well the trolley moves the clubs around the course. There are several parameters to consider when evaluating the performance of the trolley:
Climb-Capability: degrees of slope
  • If you frequent hilly courses, then you want a cart rated at least 20 degrees, but 30 degrees is even better.
Operating Range: the number of holes you can play on a single battery charge
  • Typically, the range is listed as something like 18-27 holes. This means the trolley will operate for a full 18 holes on hilly terrain and 27 holes on flat courses. Unless you plan to play only on flat courses, I recommend you look at carts rated at a minimum of 27 holes.
  • To calculate the capacity you need, look for carts rated at least 55 lbs
Carrying Capacity: maximum carry weight
  • To calculate the capacity you need, look for carts rated at least 55 lbs
Longevity of Performance: Include motor size, battery power, and cart/battery weight
  • Motor size is often listed in Watts. For most courses, a motor rated at 175 Watts should be adequate.
  • Currently there are two types of batteries on the golf trolley market. One is the traditional Sealed Lead Acid battery. The alternative to this is the Lithium Ion Battery. Each of these had advantages and disadvantages which affect the performance of the cart. To learn more about this, see this article: Lithium-Ion vs. Sealed Lead Acid Batteries for Electric Golf Trolleys.
  • Battery power is described in Amp-Hours (Ah) and Volts. A lead acid battery is usually 12 Volts and AH ranges from ~20 Ah to ~ 40 Ah. The Lithium battery runs 12 or 24 volts with an Ah rating anywhere from 7.5 – 20. For hilly courses look for batteries rated at the higher end of the Ah ranges.

2) Control Features: Below is a listing of the more commonly available control features. Usually the more features you get, the more you have to pay. Consider these different features and rank them on scale from 1-3 with 1 being “absolutely must have” and 3 being “don’t really need.” This will help you get the most out of your final purchase.
Basic Control Features Available (Manual or Remote-Control Carts):
  • On/Off Stop (Available on all carts)
  • Variable forward speed (Available on all carts)
  • Adjustable handle height – an important feature for unusually tall or shorter golfers.
  • Free-Wheeling – Enables disengaging the power so that the trolley will operate like a push cart. This feature is available on all electric caddies that we know of; however, some carts require that you manually disengage the wheels. Others go into free-wheel mode when the power is turned off.
  • Distance Advance - Allows the cart to be advanced in its current direction for a pre-determined distance (e.g. 10, 20, or 30 yards). This is particularly helpful around the green. 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 the cart slow down. This reduces the chances of “run-away carts,” but this feature does not have the power to halt the cart entirely.
Additional Basic Features Available on Remote-Control Carts:
  • Turning (Left and Right)
  • Reverse Direction
Advanced Features Available:
  • Descent Control – Controls the speed of the cart during descent
  • Automatic Shut-Off – Automatically shuts off if no remote command received in a specified number of seconds.This feature is particularly good at preventing run-away carts·
  • Programmable Speed Settings – Select pre-programmed speed settings or program customized speed options
  • Remote Tracking Adjustment - Adjust the carts tracking using the remote control device (only available on remote control golf carts)
  • Electronic (GPS) Navigation – Set the carts direction and allow it to automatically continue on a straight-line irrespective of the terrain (available from very few manufacturers)
  • Robotic Follow-Me mode - on robot caddies (available from very few manufacturers)
Convenience features available:
  • Battery Charge Indicator – Tells the operator the status of the cart’s current battery charge
  • Digital Displays – Easily see all information regarding the cart’s operation
  • Diagnostic Information – Used in troubleshooting any peculiar issues with the cart
3) Battery Technology: The two types of batteries on the market today are the Sealed Lead Aluminum (SLA) and the Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) battery. Although it is possible to convert a trolley with SLA hookup into a Li-Ion system, it can be somewhat troublesome. The best option is to consider the advantages of the two systems and intentionally buy a cart with the battery hookup you most like.
  • Less expensive than Li-Ion
  • May help stabilize golf cart due to a heavier design than Li-Ion
  • Lighter than Lead Acid Batteries
  • Smaller than Lead Acid Batteries
  • Continues Working 2-4 times longer than Lead Acid Batteries (before replacement is necessary)
4) Weight: You want to determine exactly what your ideal cart weight is prior to making a purchase decision. Things such the materials used in the structure of the cart will affect this variable. Since lead-acid batteries are easily removed from the cart, the heaviest weight you will be lifting for those type carts is that of the cart without battery or sometimes the battery itself. You need to find a cart which fulfills your needs without pushing the limits of what you can manage.
Too Heavy
A cart which is too heavy for you will be difficult to manage. Your cart should never be too heavy for you to manage by yourself. To determine if a cart is too heavy consider how much you can easily lift into and out of your typical transportation. Do not get a cart which is more than you can comfortably lift.
Too Light
A cart which is too light may not meet your needs appropriately. Light carts tend to be somewhat smaller and may be made of materials which may not be as durable or long-lasting. Depending on your body size and what you are comfortable maneuvering, you may want to opt for a cart which is sturdy but not super lightweight.

5) Other Factors: When you are satisfied that you understand these basic purchase decision factors, you can and should consider a few additional factors. These can be broken up into three categories: Design, Ease of Use, and Service.

Wheels and Tires
  • Wide tires tend to be more stable and are generally easier to manage on the course.
  • Tires with tread may tend to slip less on wet grass.
  • 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.
Construction Design and Materials
  • Titanium or carbon fiber -- light-weight and still strong and long lasting and significantly more costly.
  • Stainless steel -- stronger, longer lasting but a bit heavier and significantly more costly.
  • Steel - stronger, longer lasting, heavier and priced comparable to aluminum frame carts.
  • An aluminum frame is lighter than steel, but less durable. Most cart frames on the market today are made of some aluminum
  • Models made of aluminum frame are an OK choice for the occasional golfer. The golfer who golfs 5 days a week or more may want to consider a steel, carbon fiber or titanium frame.
Component Materials
  • Steel bag supports are generally stronger and longer lasting than those made of ABS or other plastic materials.
Dimensions and Fold-ability
  • Check the folded and unfolded dimensions to make sure the cart will work with your transportation.
  • You also need these measurements to determine if the cart matches your build and height. This ensures that you will feel comfortable when you reach for the handle.
  • The handle height should not strain your back or shoulders.
Ease of Use
Whatever cart you select will have optional accessories. Some of these may be included with the cart which is worth considering when making your decision. Some of the most popular accessories are:
  • Scorecard Holder
  • Golf Cart Drink Holder
  • Golf Umbrella Holder
  • Golf Trolley Carry Bag
  • Golf Bag Rain Cover
  • Golf Trolley Seat
  • GPS or Cell Phone Holder
  • Sand and Seed Dispenser
  • Remote-Control ClipHanger
Tracking Adjustments
  • Carts are designed to track in a straight line; however, occasionally the tracking can drift right or left.
  • Be sure the cart you buy has the ability to adjust the tracking.
  • Most are equipped with a front wheel that adjusts manual for tracking (using a wrench)
  • Some remote control golf trolleys have a remote control tracking adjust feature.
Handle Design
  • Pick the handle that allows you to easily grab and operate the cart
  • If you are left-handed, make sure that you will be comfortable because not all handles work for both left and right handed individuals.
  • Be aware that some models have a fingertip speed controller knob or button which allows you to alter the cart speed as needed.
Warranty and Service
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 rigorous demands.
  • Higher-end (and higher priced) trolleys are likely to have a 2 to 5 year warranty. At least one manufacture offers a ten year warranty.
  • Sealed Lead Aluminum batteries typically come with a 6 month to one year warranty while Lithium Ion Batteries comes with longer warranties.
  • There may be a separate longer duration warranty for the motor.
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 if the dealer is reputable.
  • Make sure that there is someone ready to assist you professionally for technical support if needed.
  • In case any of the parts on your trolley begin to show problems, you want to know that you have some reliable parts support to count on.
  • In my experience, Sunrise Golf Carts has provided a good selection, excellent prices, and superb customer service and support.
Now that you’ve read about the things to consider when buying an electric golf trolley, you are better prepared to make a good buying decision. Good Luck -- Great 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).