When I got the notification about a Sun Mountain push cart available for review, I jumped at it. The brake on my old Bag Boy cart was permanently stuck, and I had a long summer of men’s league matches ahead of me. I knew I’d want the extra convenience and energy that comes with not having to lug my stand bag around.
The Speed Cart GT is firmly at the top of Sun Mountain’s push cart line. It’s light, it folds up small, and it’s full of space to put your stuff. It also costs an enticing $210.
Is it worth it?
Let’s find out.
Why Should You Use a Push Cart?
Before I really dive into the Speed Cart GT, I’d first like to talk about why you should be using a push cart.
Before this year, I was probably thinking what you’re thinking now. “They just look so stupid!” And yes, I admit, there’s a stigma about push carts being the realm of the Mr. and Mrs. Havercamps of the world… But I need you to remember something.
You’re playing golf.
You’re probably wearing a collared shirt and khakis while playing a sport that some people actually play better while slightly drunk. You probably paid at least $20, maybe $200 (or $2,000, or $20,000), to walk around a massive park and whack a $4 rubber ball into cup with a stick shoved into it. I promise you, promise you, it’s not about cool, and using a push cart doesn’t change that equation one bit.
I’ll remind you of something else, too: bags are heavy, and you’re probably already carrying around a little more weight than you should be anyway.
So, then, on to the benefits.
I’m not a doctor, but I know that it’s better for your knees and back to not be dangling a few dozen pounds off your shoulders. In my experience, I’m far less tired at the end of a round when I use a push cart. My back doesn’t ache, my legs and core are fresher, and I’m not as sweaty.
It’s also certainly healthier (excepting people with certain injuries or physical conditions) and better for the earth to get off your butt and walk the course instead of riding around on an electric- or gasoline-powered cart.
Lastly, using a push cart allows you the main benefit of a cart bag or staff bag: you can stuff your bag to the gills with crap. Extra sunscreen, bug spray, athletic tape, golf balls. Rain expected sometime in the next week? Toss an umbrella in there. Carrying a bag is a constant battle between bringing enough stuff that you’re prepared for the worst while still keeping your bag light enough to lug around; this isn’t an issue when you use a push cart.
Design, Technology, and Esthetics
I’m going to keep this section short, since it doesn’t make a lot of sense to tell you in detail what Sun Mountain’s marketing material says about the Speed Cart GT when I can spend the words telling you how it worked for me.
According to Sun Mountain, the Speed Cart GT features new bungee cords hold-down straps, a stand bag-friendly upper bag rest, a new and improved accessory tray, and an adjustable drink holder. They also highlight the Speed Cart GT’s mesh upper pouch, the accessory knob that fastens the drink holder, and the E-Z Latch system for unfolding the cart and adjusting the cart’s handle.
The Speed Cart GT weighs 17.25 lbs, and folds up to 37″ x 16″ x 13″ (width x height x depth). That’s not quite as light and compact as Sun Mountain’s Micro-Cart GT, which weights just a hair less at 16.6 lbs and folds up to 27″ x 17″ x 13″, but it is comparable to the Clicgear 3.5+, which is the Speed Cart GT’s main competitor.
The Speed Cart GT’s brake is operated by a lever on the handle. A brake line, similar to what you’d find on a bicycle, runs down the body of the cart to the right wheel, where a plunger pin stops the tire on a dime.
Put simply, it’s a modern push cart, with all the bells and whistles you’d expect.
The name “Speed Cart GT” draws from the racing world, and it shows in the way the cart looks. Sun Mountain offers a bevy of colors, and I think I went for the boldest: gray with lime green accents. There are even a pair of racing stripes down the side, and the bright green wheel spokes exude sportiness.
It’s still a push cart, sure, but it’s a great looking push cart.
The first time I took the Speed Cart GT out for a spin, I decided to fly blind. Without reading the instructions or turning to Sun Mountain’s website, I wanted to gauge how intuitive the setup was.
Unfolding the Speed Cart GT is simple, and takes just two steps. First, you loosen the upper joint by pulling on the top lever, which unfurls the cart and deploys the back wheels. Second, you loosen the lower joint by pulling on the bottom lever to flip the front wheel over. A quick flip of the two levers tightens the joints back up, and you’re ready to load your bag!
The front wheel rotates very smoothly into the same position each time, thought the upper joint is slightly more finicky. You can adjust how high the handle is by how far you rotate it, but there’s a noticeable clicking sensation that feels the first few times like “I might be breaking this” while you adjust the handle. Nothing’s ever broken, mind you, but the clicking is unnerving at first, and you will have to get past that feeling the first few times you operate the cart.
(For reference, I’m 6’1″, and I keep the handle up as high as it will go. Your milage may vary.)
The system for securing your bag is as intuitive as any I’ve come across. A pair of reinforced elastic cords stretch across the top and bottom of your bag, securing it tightly to the cart. The cords are easily adjustable, but you shouldn’t ever have to touch it after you secure your bag to it the first time. I only tested it out with my stand bag, but there appeared to be enough slack to fit anything from a Sunday bag to a full staff bag.
Next, I turned towards the accessories compartments around the handle. There’s a snap-on water bottle holder that appeared not to fit what I thought was a fairly standard refillable water bottle (more on this later), so I instead tossed my bottle in the large mesh pouch. There isn’t a rangefinder holder, so I tossed that in the pouch as well. I placed my scorecard under the large elastic cords, and, initially missing the obvious holes that accept a pair of pencils, I awkwardly stuck it under the smaller elastic cord. I keep my extra golf ball and a bunch of tees in my pocket, so I didn’t bother filling the hinged tray with odds and ends, but a quick test revealed that golf balls fit securely in the designated holes, and should I ever want a place to put my phone and wallet, I’d have one. I took note of the threaded connector for the umbrella holder, and headed out to the course.
Everything went just about as well as you’d hope. My bag was unbelievably secure, not rotating a single inch, which was a huge problem with my old Bag Boy cart. The wheel bearings in the Speed Cart GT are very, very low friction, so pushing the cart uphill or on level ground was extremely easy, and I could let it coast down shallow declines with ease.
The wheels are a solid firm rubber that grip the turf well, and I never had an issue with the Speed Cart GT sliding down a sidehill. There’s even enough static resistance in the wheels bearings that you don’t have to set the brake at shallow angles despite how smoothly it rolls when you’re pushing it.
I grew up using two-wheeled pull carts, so that instinct occasionally pops up, and the Speed Cart GT is happy to oblige. You can pull it behind you without having to worry about your water bottle taking a tumble or your clubs popping out, which was hugely satisfying.
The Speed Cart GT’s handle is angled on both sides and flat at the top, allowing you to grip it at the traditional ten-and-two or with one hand at twelve o’clock. Gripping it with both hands allows your shoulders and wrists to sit naturally and comfortably, and even when switching to a one-handed push I didn’t have an issue with the cart coasting left or right. I’ve never had an issue with it rolling in any direction but true and straight, and the angled handle makes the Speed Cart GT particularly easy to turn despite it not having a swiveling front wheel.
The brake, which actuates via a very nicely designed flip lever, proved secure and easy to operate in both directions. There’s a spring that flips it on to let you brake instantly, while un-braking takes a little more force. The cart needs to be at a stop to disengage the brake, so it is a little awkward if you try to start pushing against a cart with the brake engaged. (My tactic is just to lift the right wheel off the ground and keep on moving forward while I disengage the brake. A better tactic, of course, would be to just disengage the brake before I begin pushing the cart. D’oh.) I enjoyed the hand-operated brake much more than the pedal on my old Bag Boy cart, which had a tendency to fill with mud and was difficult to operate when on uneven ground. With the handbrake, you can flip the level blindfolded with one hand tied behind your back.
After the round I took stock of my experience. I’d been using the scorecard holder correctly, though I hadn’t noticed several holes underneath the hinged tray that fit pencils perfectly (I mistakenly assumed they were for tees). The Speed Cart GT’s console also has a tray that holds a cell phone (which I just keep in my pocket). There’s no dedicated rangefinder pocket or clamp, but Sun Mountain offers a rangefinder bag on their website for $25. I’ll probably live with tossing it in the mesh pouch, though it’s a nice option to have.
I also found out that the beverage holder does fit my water bottle, but it requires a two-hand operation to simultaneously open the holder up and slide the bottle in. It’s fine – the bottle is certainly secure – but it is a bit clumsy, and it took a while to get over how much it felt like I was going to break it. The holder is also free to rotate, which has its advantages and disadvantages. If I’m going to pick nits, scorecards can slide around a bit under the elastic straps, and the the hinged tray could maybe be a little deeper, but those are far from deal-breakers.
As I spent more time with the Speed Cart GT, I began to marvel at just how well-built it felt. I loaned out my old Bag Boy cart to a friend recently, and just helping him unfold the Bag Boy had me worried that I was going to lose a finger. The frame was loose, the brake was finicky (even after successful surgery had released it from being stuck), and I had to yank the scorecard out at the end of the round. Suffice it to say, I was glad I’d left it in the past.
Finally, as if the Speed Cart GT sundae needed a cherry on top, the entire thing folds up for storage in your trunk in about 20 seconds flat. Even if your trunk is that of a relatively compact Volkswagen Golf that already holds your golf bag.
Specifications and Pricing
This is the space in which I’d usually tell you about the shaft, grip, and headcover that come stock with whatever club I’ve reviewing, but since we’re talking about a push cart we’re going to talk about colors. The Speed Cart GT is available in (deep breath): navy/red/white, gunmetal/flash, silver, gunmetal/pink, white/cobalt, black, gunmetal/red, orange, and lime. I opted for gunmetal/flash, which has a grey body and lime green rims. I could have opted for the all-black option for simplicity, but the addition of bright green really makes the thing pop in the bright summer sun. I got a handful of comments about how cool the green accents looked, so I recommend looking at the options that may strike you as gaudy at first.
The Speed Cart GT retails for $210, which is on the high end of comparable push carts, but still roughly in line with what you’d expect (and $10 less than the Clicgear 3.5+). If you plan on using it instead of renting a powered cart, it will pay for itself in no time.
Look, I’m just going to come out and say it: you should get a push cart. They combine the advantages of carrying your bag with the advantages of powered carts, and leave you feeling fresher at the end of a long round, even in the summer heat. They make the game more fun. None of them do that better than the Speed Cart GT.
If you’re going to get a push cart, you’ll probably want one that folds up to fit in your trunk, but unfolds for play easily. Of course, you’ll want one with plenty of space to store your scorecard, water bottle, and a few odds and ends. You’ll probably want a nice light cart that won’t be tiresome to push up a hill. And of course, you’ll want to make sure that your bag stays snug no matter what size it is.
That’s where the Speed Cart GT comes in. It checks every single one of those boxes, most in exemplary fashion. It looks great, comes in a wide variety of colors, and carries a respected name in the golf equipment industry. I’m going to be using mine for a good long while.
So the question is, what are you waiting for?