Walk or ride?
If you play golf, you’ve heard the question.
But now at The Glen Club, there’s a follow-up: What do you want to ride?
The public course in Glenview offers the traditional cart and, on Monday, began allowing golfers to rent an electric bike that zips down fairways at 24 mph. Either option costs $25 per player.
The electric bike is from Wheels.co, which is in the micro transportation industry. The two-wheelers are big with food couriers in cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami and Dallas, and company officials decided to give golf a shot.
“You can be 18 and looking for a good time,” Wheels.co executive Todd Maron said, “or a senior golfer can be very comfortable on the seated device. My mom is in her 70s and has MS, and she can do it.”
The device has handlebars for balance, acceleration and braking, a cup holder, a phone fastener and a rear attachment for golf clubs. Helmets are included with urban rentals, but golfers tend to wear their ballcaps or visors.
KemperSports executive vice president Gary Binder, whose company manages The Glen Club, invited a few people for a test run.
“You be the judge,” he said. “You’re a tester. This is not by any means a finished product.”
Has anyone fallen off?
“No,” he replied. “Don’t be the first.”
Hell on Wheels? Nah, it takes only a hole or two to get accustomed. And once you do, not even a double bogey will knock the perma-smile off your face.
You begin the rental by registering on the Wheels.co app. And then you’re off.
“It’s safer than riding a bicycle and easier to get off,” Binder said. “It’s fun. And it’s a way to appeal to the younger generation in the era of social distancing.”
All true. But there are drawbacks:
The bike sometimes shuts off after five minutes. So tell your buddies to stop reading their putts from 17 different angles.
My golf bag flipped over twice while I was riding. So try to make sure it’s positioned in the middle of the rack — and keep the head cover on your precious driver just in case.
Having to remain on the app sucks juice from your phone, especially if you’re also using an app such as Golfshot for swing-by-swing GPS.
There’s one kickstand, so balance is essential when the bike comes to rest. If you’re on an uneven lie, it might take some adjusting.
The bike sometimes struggles to go uphill on grass. Let your Fred Flintstone instincts kick in.
Watch out on sharp turns, such as on The Glen Club’s 14th hole, where the cart path veers right to avoid a stream. As Binder said, don’t be the first.
Maron and fellow Wheels.co executive Daniel Bornstein stressed that the company will continually make improvements to the bike, whether minor (adding a scorecard holder) or major (the use of a key card to unlock the device, preserving phone battery life).
As of now, The Glen Club is the only Chicago-area club that offers Wheels for Golf. That might not be the case next summer.
“Golfers have come up to us in droves with an extreme level of interest,” Maron said. “They say: ‘I need to ride one right now.’ ”
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