December 2nd, 2013 by Tyler Pringle
Golfboard aims to change the golf experience between shots. What before was downtime between swings might now be the most enjoyable part of your round.
The game of golf may finally have a solution for attracting younger golfers to the game: turn the golf course into a skate park. While Golfboard introduces a new way for golfers to get around, don’t expect this unique product to be exclusively for kids.
For those unfamiliar with the product, Golfboard is fresh off Kickstarter funding and aims to replace the golf cart at your local course. Similar to riding a skateboard or snowboard, the electric powered board carries golfers from one shot to the next as they surf the turf. What was once simply downtime before traveling between shots, Golfboard aims to make getting around on the course as much fun as knocking your approach shot next to the flag.
We had a chance to interview Paul Hodge, the company’s Co-founder, to learn more about the company and what they have in store for the future. Check out the video below for a quick overview.
- AGC: How did you come up with the idea for GolfBoard? Who is involved in the company?
-Paul Hodge: The idea for the GolfBoard was an evolving concept which started years ago when a few of the founders, who are passionate about electric vehicles, built electric powered longboards. These original boards had loads of power, had top speeds of 50+ mph, and took a lot of skill to ride. Eventually one of the founders, Star, ran into Laird Hamilton in Kauai while on one of the boards. Laird immediately loved the concept and asked Star to make him a few. Laird connected with Don Wildman, who had been using a cheap, one-wheel drive board on golf courses. Don was impressed with the power and 4-wheel drive characteristics of the new boards, and also wanted one. Eventually, we all started riding these boards on the golf course, as it made the game of golf more enjoyable, and the golf course was the perfect place, with its smooth grass canopies, to ride the boards.
We initially used the boards for personal enjoyment, but every time we played on the courses, we were mobbed by people who wanted them. Eventually, we decided to develop a safe, fun, and easy to ride board that everyone could enjoy. We formed a business, and after another year and a half of engineering, we now have the production version of the GolfBoard—easy to ride and full of safety features, including a removable stand-up balance bar and bag holder. The new board remains true to the original in that it has loads of power, 4-wheel drive and is fun to ride; it just does it now in a much safer, more stable way. Partners in the company are myself, Laird Hamilton, Don Wildman, Star Faraon, and Mike Randebaugh.
-AGC: What was your experience using Kickstarter to launch the product? How has that experience changed the company?
-Paul Hodge: Kickstarter was an experiment, as none of us had used the service before. We had a great experience using Kickstarter. We raised some money through pledges, which are essentially pre-sales; but more importantly, we received an enormous amount of international media attention which has led to an incredible response from the golfing community worldwide in support of our product.
-AGC: What are the advantages to your product in the current golf market? Why would a golfer want to consider using this?
-Paul Hodge: There are many reasons why a golfer would want to use this product. 1. It provides more of a workout than riding in a cart. 2. It adds a tremendous amount of fun in “surfing the earth” between golf shots. 3. The GolfBoard has far less impact than a GolfCart. 4. It speeds up the game dramatically, especially when playing in a group, as each person in essence has their own cart.
-AGC: How long does a charge last?
-Paul Hodge: The charge will last a minimum of 18 holes, and that is with a heavy rider on a very hilly course, playing a lot. For my body weight of 160 lbs., I can go 36 holes per charge. It only take 2 hours to recharge when fully drained.
-AGC: What has the response to your product been like thus far?
-Paul Hodge: The response has been incredible. We have had approximately 500 golf courses in the U.S. reach out with inquiries and want demos. We have had approximately 20 major international distributors reach out wanting to sign deals to distribute in their regions, as well as loads of consumers and just about every other type of golf industry entity you can imagine.
The theme seems to be mostly the same, golf courses want to rent boards to clients in an attempt to bring the younger crowds to the course and increase revenue. It seems that the younger generation in golf is an elusive market, and golf courses understand that the future of their sport relies on younger people taking it up and getting interested. Many see the GolfBoard as a way to do that.
-AGC: What are the next steps for GolfBoard?
-Paul Hodge: We are now moving to mass manufacturing. This is a costly and tedious process, but we anticipate that we will be producing and shipping approximately 500 boards per month starting in January.
We see our primary market as selling fleets of boards to golf courses much like golf carts are done now. However, due to the fact that you can easily throw the GolfBoard in your trunk with your clubs and head to the course, we are also hoping that the consumer market will be strong for golf and other uses, as the board can also be used for riding around town, or even for off-road trail riding.
One of the common questions is liability and insurance, we tackled this early on to partner with insurance consultants who have set up standard policies to cover GolfBoard use on courses. There are two parts, the product liability piece, which we have covered and will list golf courses as additional insured, and the general liability piece, where we have set up standard programs in which we can assist golf courses if their own insurance groups have challenges with it. Compared to many other sports out there, such as freestyle parks on snowboard and ski hills, this is a piece of cake and far less dangerous.