Extreme Golfing

Cruise up to the green with GolfBoarding

The Golfboard — it's how we golf nowPhoto by Trask Bedortha

Golfing is to sports what masturbation is to sex — a solitary endeavor that, no matter how vigorously you go at it, always ends up being about you and you alone, as you come face to face with your own failings in the universe as well as the measure of your stamina in overcoming them.

I’ve been golfing, more or less vigorously, for years, and I’m sad to report that my game hasn’t improved one jot. It’s an existential dilemma. Golf, for me, is too often a good walk spoiled, just like people think Mark Twain said.

So why walk?

A radical new innovation springing from the soil of the Northwest has the potential to revolutionize the way the game of golf is played. Enter the GolfBoard, an elegant little electronic scooter that allows the solitary golfer to zip around the course Jetsons-style at speeds of up to 14 miles per hour.

Conceived and designed by Bally’s Total Fitness founder Don Wildman in collaboration with legendary surfer Laird Hamilton, and manufactured in Bend, Oregon, the GolfBoard is gaining popularity among amateur golfers, both locally and across the country. At Trysting Tree Golf Course in Corvallis — the nearest place to Eugene offering the things — players are increasingly moving from the old, slow golf carts to GolfBoards.

I had the occasion to watch a couple of players at Trysting Tree, Pat Serry and Mark McRae, use the boards, and let me tell you, they’re pretty cool. Unlike the more lugubrious, old-fashioned covered carts, GolfBoards allow golfers to directly follow their shot as they motor in a direct line over the topography, carving into inclines and zooming down hills.

“They’re gonna take off,” Serry says about the board’s popularity, adding that he’d recently golfed 36 holes in just over four-and-a-half hours (a board-less round of 18 typically takes between three and five hours). Speed of play, combined with the low-impact footprint on the course, are significant factors in the device’s attraction.

According to Trysting Tree golf pro Sean Arey, the appeal of the GolfBoard is that it brings two sports in line, attracting both golfers and adventure enthusiasts who enjoy sports like surfing and skateboarding. “Golf is a game that has to grow and evolve,” Arey says, noting that the board is bringing back younger players, including Gen Xers who may have abandoned the game over the past decade.

And yet, Arey adds, the average age of the players renting boards at Trysting Tree is 40 to 45. “As it is, the GolfBoard has been accepted by all demographics and all generations,” he says, and the board has over 100,000 views on YouTube. “I hope this brings a spark to the game.”

Jordan Greenbaum, the regional director for GolfBoard based in Bend, says that the board is bringing a “wow factor” to the traditional game. “We’re putting in fleets of orders all across the country,” Greenbaum says, though he notes that Oregon, with its weather and landscape, represents a particular “hot spot” for what might come to be known as golfboarding.

“I see it becoming much more mainstream,” he says. “It already is. People are discovering how fun it is.”

You can try out the GolfBoard at Trysting Tree in Corvallis (trystingtree.com; 752-3332), where a round plus rental ($25 per board) will run you $64.

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