My memories of using a hand cart are not good ones. Invariably they were rentals at public courses weighing a good 15 pounds with wobbly little wheels and a propensity to tip over on anything but dead flat ground. Dragging one of those behind me up and down hills wasn't any fun.
That's why I always carried when I walked. It was simpler and definitely more fashionable. Somehow here in the U.S. using a hand cart just wasn't the cool thing to do. But times change and so did I. I got older, my feet gave out (plantar faciitis), and I started riding instead of walking.
About the same time, while I wasn't looking, a new breed of hand cart emerged. Sun Mountain introduced their first three-wheeled push cart in 1999. It was light, stable, and ergonomically designed. With the latest version introduced this month, they've raised the bar again on what a hand cart can be. Here's the story…
Push to Walk
OK, I'll admit it. On my frequent visits to golf stores I've found myself playing with push carts. I flip the brake on and off. I push and pull it back and forth a little. I play with all the gizmos and gadgets attached to them… sort of like a dog circling, sniffing, and poking its nose at an unfamiliar object.
I am intrigued. I'm dying to walk the course again. The "old man" stigma may not attach to its use anymore since I am, indeed, an old man. So moot point there. And while the electric motor version, the Speed E Cart, seems the ultimate solution, its roughly $700 plus price tag makes it no solution for me.
The Sun Mountain Speed Cart V1, the least expensive cart in the line, thus holds the most appeal. And there's no doubt the long list of features speaks directly to the gadget freak inside me.
What it Is
As it was in the beginning, the Speed Cart V1 is a foldable, three-wheeled push cart with big pneumatic tires. It seems beautifully balanced and is designed to keep your back, arms and shoulders in their most natural positions. It's a far different animal than the two-wheel carts that seem to yank your arm from your shoulder.
There's a hand brake that locks for parking on slopes, a front wheel alignment adjustment for perfect tracking, and folding bag brackets. Standard accessories include a tire pump, an umbrella holder to keep an open umbrella over the cart and bag, and a bracket for storing the umbrella against the cart.
The 2008 version of the V1 now shipping to stores comes with a number of tweaks and new features. The console tray has been upgraded with a magnetic lid, padded valuables tray, a bungee scorecard holder, swiveling drink holder, and a mesh headcover tray.
There's something about that console that makes me think of the space ship control panels my friends and I would fashion from cans and nails and cannibalized bicycle parts when we were kids. Very, very nifty.
There are also new upper and lower bag brackets that don't require bungee cords or straps to secure your bag and a lower bag rest and bracket that fold in one motion.
Sun Mountain has also spiffed up the look. The wheels and spokes now sport a black anodized finish, although they're staying silver if you choose the metallic black finish. Other colors include metallic blue, metallic red, metallic orange, metallic lime, metallic silver, yellow, and pink.
For those so inclined, Sun Mountain makes it possible to pimp your ride with optional accessories like special rain or UV umbrellas, a cooler, a storage bag, a seat, mitts that attach to the cart handle, and a cart cover.
Suggested retail price for the new version is $239. It should be showing up in stores and online over the next few weeks.
In the End…
At that price point, I'm going to be looking to try one of these before I pop for one. Still, walking is a wonderful way to play. It's faster, it's better for you, and it's a lot more like real golf. If a light Sunday bag like we wrote about last week is not the solution, maybe this will be the thing to get me back on my feet.