Buyer’s Guide for Electric Golf Caddies
Electric golf caddies have exploded in popularity over the past several years. They come with numerous features that enhance a round of golf and they give golfers an easy way to walk the course.
Today’s motorized golf caddies are available with features that provide safe and straightforward navigation. Remote controlled golf caddies allow the golfer to move the caddy to their ball from a great distance all the while enjoying a walk along the hole. Manual golf caddies can safely roll alongside the walking golfer while maintaining a straight line.
If you are in the market for a motorized golf caddy, then here is a buyer’s guide that will cut through the confusion and lead you to find the best caddy for your needs. Walk the course with ease and focus on playing your best round!
Understanding the construction of your electric golf caddy is essential before making a buying decision. From the wheels to the frame, the construction of the caddy must be sturdy enough to carry your clubs all the while using minimal battery power to stay powered over the course of a round. Here are two areas of focus that electric golf caddy designers use to make each round of golf a success.
Importance of Wheel Design
Most electric caddies utilize three wheels to maneuver over smooth or rough terrain on the golf course. The wheels are typically situated with two large wheels equidistant apart in the rear of the caddy, with a single smaller wheel in the front. Some caddies will include a fourth “anti-tip” wheel that helps stabilize the cart if it should lose balance.
The large wheels in the back of the caddy maintain stability and handle the weight of the clubs. The front wheel is usually mobile so that it can handle 360-degree turns and side-to-side movement. Tires can be inflatable or made from solid rubber to handle the wear and tear of riding over rocks and tougher landscape.
The weight of an electric golf caddy is critical to know when it comes to transportation. Therefore, understanding the materials used to create the frame of the motorized golf caddy is essential.
Electric golf caddies are created primarily from two different types of material, aluminum and titanium. Manufacturers use these metals to form a lightweight yet incredibly sturdy frame that helps reduce the weight of the caddy. With electric caddies carrying motors and batteries, reducing weight in whatever possible way is vital for keeping a caddy mobile.
The biggest issue that most golfers have with an electric caddy is the size of the machine. Transporting the caddy to-and-from the house to the course can be a major hassle if the caddy does not fold with simplicity and ease. Caddy manufacturers have taken note of the complaints of golfers and redesigned their caddies to fold and lock in place without causing frustration.
The lightweight materials, such as titanium and aluminum, assist in making the caddy lighter yet providing the strength to make sure that the caddy stays compact when folded for transport. When choosing a caddy, the golfer needs to make sure that they have space in their vehicle for the folded caddy as well as acknowledge the weight to make sure they will be able to lift when necessary.
Batteries are the lifeblood of the electric golf caddy. They provide power to the motors that turn the wheels and push the caddy forward and backward as needed by the golfer. Batteries can vary in weight and add a considerable burden to the battery itself because of the need to supply more power to the caddy to carry the additional weight.
Lithium Ion batteries are lightweight and more environmentally friendly than their counterpart, the lead acid battery. These Lithium-Ion batteries will add less than 12 pounds to the total weight of the caddy. Lithium-Ion batteries are more expensive but will maintain their capacity for well over 500 charges, which should last for many years for the average golfer.
Sealed Lead Acid (SLA)
Sealed Lead Acid batteries are the monsters that most of us typically imagine when we think of car batteries. They are large and extremely heavy as most SLA batteries weigh close to 25 pounds. They are cheaper than their Lithium-Ion competition but take a very long time to charge.
The good thing about the Sealed Lead Acid battery is that it is relatively cheap. If the SLA battery goes bad, then you are just out roughly a fourth of the cost of the Lithium Ion.
Battery LCD Readout
One of the most important features that a caddy can have is a battery charge meter that is embedded on the display screen of the caddy. This meter will give golfers immediate feedback on the life of their battery. This feature is especially helpful in times when the golfer is unsure whether to charge the battery after a quick nine holes.
If the batteries are the lifeblood of the caddy, then the technological center of the machine is the brain that operates movement. Caddies can be controlled manually through a panel or with remote control.
The main difference between the two methods relates to the golfer’s proximity to the machine during a round. Golfers must stay closer to the caddy when controlling the machine manually whereas those who own remote controlled electric golf caddies can walk farther away from the caddy yet still have full control.
Most electric golf caddies that function manually have a series of controls for moving the caddy. Golfers can set the speed of the caddy, place the caddy in cruise control, and see how much battery remains in the cart.
This gives the golfer hands-on control of these essential functions but also forces the individual to have to stay closer to the caddy. Manual caddies are less expensive than remote control caddies, but the golfer does sacrifice a bit of freedom in the exchange.
With remote control caddies, the golfer is given a yardage range from where they can manage their caddy. Most remote control caddies have a range of 80-100 yards where the golfer can utilize the remote to move the caddy in any direction and dictate the caddy’s speed.
When using the caddy with or without a remote control, you want the caddy to be able to maintain speed through a round. Knowing this is important, most manufacturers have installed a cruise control feature on the caddy. The cruise control locks in a steady rate of speed that syncs with your walking pace for a comfortable trip around the course. Most caddies have cruise control as a standard feature.
Another feature commonly found on caddies is a speed memory button that will restart the caddy to the previous moving speed before the last stop. The speed memory function is a simple and easy way to keep the caddy moving at a steady and pre-approved pace.
A setting that is popular in most caddies is a distance advance feature that keeps the cart moving a certain distance from you as you walk the 18 holes. Before you begin, you move your caddy to specific distance advance setting and watch as the cart moves ahead of you after shots. The benefit of this feature is that you’ll always have the caddy in front of you, never having to worry about pushing it along.
A feature that emphasizes safety and comes installed on most golf caddies is electronic brakes. Having this feature assures that the caddy will stay within range and won’t run away when facing a downhill slope. The brakes engage the speed of the caddy anytime starts to suddenly increase, keeping your clubs and stored valuables out of harm’s way. When walking uphill, the brakes will assist in stopping and securing the caddy so that it doesn’t roll back down the slope.
What about those rare moments when your battery runs out, or the caddy doesn’t want to move? In those instances, it is important to have a freewheeling function to your caddy. Freewheeling will disengage the brakes and stop battery power allowing the golfer to navigate the caddy over the remaining holes easily. This feature works as a fail-safe to making sure if the worst case happens, you won’t be stuck needing help and can calmly finish your round.
Here’s a quick checklist of other features that will enhance your caddy experience but aren’t necessary to enjoy the benefits of an electric golf caddy.
Manual Speed Settings allows the golfer to set a desired and specific rate of speed for the caddy. These settings come in handy when dealing with a course that contains a lot of elevation changes.
Torque Control lessens the damage caused by the starting and stopping of a caddy to improve smoothness and deepen the life of the machine.
Decent Control keeps the power in the hands of the golfer in maintaining the speed the caddy will keep on downhill slopes. This control is helpful when playing new courses because the golfer can be extra careful when unsure about the severity of the slope angles.
Automatic Shut Off is a battery saving feature that keeps the cart fresh when not in use. After an allotted time of inactivity, most caddies have their time set to under one minute; the battery will cut power to the primary controls and conserve energy. This feature assures that golfers can have a worry-free round knowing that their caddy will stay healthy over the duration of their time on the course.
Diagnostics Readout is an indispensable accessory that helps troubleshoot any problems that the golfer may be having with the caddy. The readout can show the golfer if the battery is malfunctioning or if the brakes need maintenance. This is a feature found in higher end electric golf caddies but is a huge help when problems arise.
LED Screens also add another layer of luxury and assistance by giving the golfer the opportunity to alter settings quickly and monitor the health of the caddy on a touchscreen. Once the golfer finds the setting, they prefer then the screen acts as a quick guide to smoothing out any hiccups the caddy may be experiencing.
Let’s talk about the extra features of a golf caddy that enhance your overall experience during your round of golf. These unique features of a cart can keep your drink handy, charge your phone, as well as offer placement for your GPS and hold your umbrella.
The intangibles that you should look for when shopping for a motorized golf caddy begin with areas to hold essential items that can be freely accessible during your walk. For the golfer who likes to drink water throughout a round to stay hydrated then a caddy that offers a drink carrier is a must.
Other features golfers can find on caddies include USB outlets for charging devices, a small shelf that can hold a GPS device for easy access when a shot demands a yardage. For players who golf in wet climates, the umbrella holder is a lifesaver when rain interrupts your round.
There are many things to consider when making the right choice for the perfect electric golf caddy. From finding a well built caddy that doesn’t skimp on material to equipping the caddy with the best battery for your needs, the caddy must have a strong foundation to last through the years.
Of course, most golfers love their creature comforts, and golf caddies don’t disappoint with features that will keep the controls handy and the accessories stored within reach. Wherever you start, the best golf caddies on the market will make your round easier allowing you to focus on a pleasant walk with the great game of golf.