NORTH SHORE, Oahu -- It's only appropriate that wave-riding wannabes like me can finally surf at Turtle Bay Resort without getting all wet.
Landlubbers can leave those thunderous 10-footers out in the bay to surfer guys and gals cut like Greek gods. I'll stick to the green grass of the fairways, thank you, riding on the Golf Skate Caddy, a cool, new, single-person motorized golf transport invented in Australia. Handling the Golf Skate Caddy doesn't require the talent, strength and balance surfers possess. I was cruising at full speed within the first couple of holes of my test drive on Turtle Bay's Arnold Palmer Course in early October, loving it.
"It's a lot quicker learning curve than the Segway," said Daniel Quinn, the director who invented the Golf Skate Caddy with his brother and father. "Even though it is a learning curve, it's short. You can slowly go up in speed according to your skill level. We've found that people do like that it's a little bit of a challenge. If it was too easy, it would not be exciting."
Turtle Bay is the first resort in North America to offer golfers the chance to ride the Golf Skate Caddy. It rents for $40 per round on either the Palmer or George Fazio Courses.
The product launched at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando in January, although it's been five years in the making for Quinn, his brother Matt and father Tom. The Quinn brothers borrowed the technology from their FiiK Electric Skateboards business and refined it for golf. They added a second motor in the front of the Golf Skate Caddy to reduce spinouts and refined necessary add-ons: A bag stand, a hidden cooler, an attachable umbrella, a seat in back (not to be used while riding), and beverage, golf ball, scorecard and tee holders. There's even an attached bucket filled with sand for replacing divots. A USB hookup allows players to power GPS, or other golf apps, through their smartphones.
"All this wasn't by chance," Quinn said. "We tried to make all the full features of a golf cart that you can fit in the back of a car."
Riders use a handheld trigger to hit the gas or the brakes. Golfers eventually learn how to lean into turns using their body weight. The Golf Skate Caddy rides fairly smooth on flat courses with subtle mounding like Turtle Bay. Beginners should avoid any sort of slope or hill until they feel completely comfortable.
The Golf Skate Caddy could be coming soon to a facility near you. Quinn said the company is looking to expand further into America, Australia, Canada, Spain, Portugal and South Africa this year. He can envision a day when the Golf Skate Caddy is "standard equipment at every course."
Quinn indicated the Golf Skate Caddy is already popular for residents in Australian golf communities. It's on sale at www.golfskatecaddy.com for $4,100. The GolfBoard, whose tagline is "Surf the Earth," provides some competition to keep an eye on.
Some golfers have told Quinn they play better when riding the Golf Skate Caddy because they aren't getting stiff sitting in a golf cart for five hours. He claims it speeds pace of play up by 30 percent as well.
"We want to make the game a bit more fun and physical and energetic," Quinn said. "It brings a smile to anyone's face. It just brings flavor into the game.
"We are finding, maybe I'm biased, every golf course sooner or later will look at these. It's fun. You don't get stuck with the same person in the golf buggy. You can mix it up. It is a bit more social, it seems. You can ride around with anybody in your group. I would like to say it will revolutionize the game. The future of golf is one of our lines we say. It is what golf is crying out for."