Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mantys-buggy ORLANDO, Fla. -- There is good news about my test drive (video below) of Sun Mountain's new motorized, self-propelled golf bag cart: I didn't plow into a fire hydrant. That should count for something.
Seriously, Sun Mountain's new Mantys cart is the hands-down winner of the Most Fun New Product here at the PGA Merchandise Show. It looks something like a pair of skateboards connected to a set of handlebars. You load your golf bag in front of the handle, put one foot on each of the flat legs and use your thumb to operate the throttle. There's no steering wheel. To turn, you simply shift your weight right or left and this four-wheeler and its sophisticated suspension system do the rest.
All I took was a quick test drive around the range at Orange County National, but let me tell you, this thing is fun. I didn't open it up to full speed but it can really go. A fellow tester later told me he learned it has a turbo button and when he tried it, he almost did a wheelie. The Mantys might be more fun than a go-kart.
For motorized golf course uses, the Mantys blows away the Segway, the famous two-wheel pedestrian mover that has seen limited use on golf courses because it has some issues with hills, especially sidehill lies. The Mantys has four wheels and is much more stable. I live in the Pittsburgh area, which is pretty hilly, and I think the Mantys could operate there with no problem. But it's not as if I could try it out on a big hill--I'm in Florida, the cradle of swampland. At a suggested retail price of $3,250, the Mantys is also about $5,000 cheaper than the Segway.
I can see a couple of potential hurdles for the Mantys. The driver is in a stand-up position; there is no seat. If you want to sit down during your four-hour round, you'd better find a bench. If it's rainy, well, you and your clubs are going to get wet. Many people who own their own carts are older or retired and may prefer a sit-down cart.
For fun on a golf course -- or in a parking lot or in your backyard, for that matter -- the Mantys is a blast. I'm already in negotiations to set up another, lengthier test drive.

Photo: David Walberg/SI

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