Since the origins of the first golf carts through the myriad of electric golf cars available today, the golf cart industry has certainly come a long way. The latest craze to hit the links are custom golf carts that cover the gamut from simple add-ons to the carts like brush guards and mud tires, to elaborate air-brushed bodies limited only by your imagination. How we got from, as we say here at Metrolina Carts, “plain to insane” golf carts is an interesting story whose humble beginnings are rooted not far from our store in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Did you know that what we commonly call golf carts today are not really carts at all? They are in fact “golf cars” according to the American National Standards Institute, because they carry us (and our clubs) and are self-propelled. Carts on the other hand are vehicles that are pushed or pulled by an external method of propulsion. Remember those hand-pulled carts we all used when we couldn’t afford to rent a golf car as teens and didn’t want to carry our golf bags that for some of us weighed more than we did? Well those actually were “golf carts”!
The game of golf has been played now for over 500 years, having originated in Scotland as early as 1457 historians believe. Steeped in tradition, golf purists not only follow the rules of the game, they also abide by golf etiquette which, though breaking them won’t ding your score card, are guidelines for making the sport more enjoyable for fellow golfers that are sharing your time on the golf course. It is my opinion that these guidelines are what makes golf special and hard to walk away from. Not many golfers quit the game until they absolutely have to due to poor health. In fact, golf carts and golf cars had their humble origins from golfers that wanted to keep playing despite physical impairments that otherwise would have forced them to give up the game they love.
In 1932, a 68-year-old retired electrical engineer named Lyman Beecher, who loved the game of golf, was struggling more and more navigating the very hilly Biltmore Forest Country Club, about 120 west of Charlotte, North Carolina. In an attempt to prolong his golf days, Beecher fashioned a rickshaw-like golf cart meant to be pulled by 2 caddies. Though the cart worked initially, caddies at Biltmore eventually refused to perform the demeaning and demanding work of hauling Beecher and his clubs around the hilly course. Nonplussed, Beecher went on to design a gas-powered car that didn’t work out because it was too noisy, and then a 3-wheeled golf car powered by storage batteries. Beecher used the latter to golf well into his 80’s until he flipped his golf car while driving through a sand trap as he was coming in from the 9th hole to wait out a rain squall. Beecher broke his arm as a result of that accident, after which his doctor advised him to quit the game of golf. Sadly, Beecher did just that.
Around the same time that Beecher’s golf car was evolving in North Carolina, a lumber tycoon and wealthy oil investor in Texarkana, Arkansas named J.K. Wadley noticed a three-wheeled electric car being used in Los Angeles, California to transport seniors to the grocery store. Intrigued by the idea that such a car might work well on a golf course, he purchased one himself. Wadley was passionate about the game of golf, and was in fact a great player in his own right. He was a winner of the Southern California Senior Championship, played internationally as part of the U.S. Senior Team for a decade, and was President of the Arkansas and Texas Golf Associations. Wadley’s golf car did indeed perform as well as he did on the course and is thought to be the first use of a viable electric car on a golf course. There is no doubt that using a golf car prolonged Wadley’s golfing career, just as it has for thousands of golfers since. In 1958, at the age of 81, Wadley was named Distinguished Senior Golfer, an award one two years previously by his friend, General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
It would take a couple of decades for golf cars, both gas-powered and electric, to become ubiquitous. From the early days of Beecher and Wadley, through the early 1950’s, golf cars were mostly used by golfers with disabilities or that had trouble walking the course due to age or infirmity. But in the 50’s the tide began to turn toward widespread use of golf cars, both as a convenience and a luxury for individuals, and eventually as a new source of revenue for golf courses. Today, many golf courses even require that you rent golf cars!
From Marketeer in 1951 (featured on and episode of the TV show “Get Smart” above), to E-Z-GO in 1954, Club Car in 1958, Taylor-Dunn in 1961, Harley Davidson in 1963, Yamaha in 1979, CT&T in 2002, and Star EV in 2003, golf cars have evolved along with the game of golf itself. The next evolution of the golf car was inevitable…custom golf cars! No longer just a convenient conveyance on the links, golfers more and more are looking to express their passions through their custom cars.
Whether it’s in support of your favorite team, your favorite band, your lifestyle, your love of country, or anything else you are passionate about, Metrolina Carts will work with you to design and build the custom golf car of your dreams! Our goal is, and has always been, to set the highest standard in quality and craftsmanship in the industry. We strive to build the best custom carts at the best prices while giving our customers an unforgettable experience. To achieve this goal, we invite our customers to open their imaginations. Our customers come in to pick and choose parts and accessories to build their custom cart from the ground up exactly the way they envision them, including custom air brush designs on the golf cart body.
And here’s one of today’s E-Z-GO RXV Golf Cars that has been customized by Metrolina Carts to be themed for one of our customers that loves to spend time at the beach.
This custom “Beach Life” E-Z-GO golf car includes an air-brushed body depicting a beautiful ocean sunrise scene in pastel colors, an Ultimate LED Light kit, Genesis 300 Seat kit with custom Lime Green, Blue and Orange Diamond stitched seats, an under-seat cooler/storage insert, 4-Speaker Kicker Stereo with JVC Head Unit and Custom Matching Dash, and much more!
Here’s a look at Yamaha’s first entry into the world of golf cars, the Yamaha G1 golf cart:
And here’s one of today’s Yamaha-001 Golf Cars that has been customized by Metrolina Carts.
This custom “Fusion Blue and White” Yamaha golf car includes an air-brushed body in white with blue accent colors atop a set of 14-inch Tempest Blue and Black Raptor Mud Tires, an Ultimate LED Light kit with Color Morphed Halos, Genesis 300 Seat kit with custom Black, Blue and White Diamond stitched seats, LED Underbody Light Kit, 4-Speaker Kicker Stereo with Carbon Fiber Dash and Bazooka Tube Speaker, and much more!
We’ve come a long way from rickshaws and senior-citizen grocery-run 3-wheelers!