Big wave surfer Laird Hamilton is an extreme sports pioneer famous for pushing boundaries. He is credited with co-inventing tow-in surfing, a revolutionary technique in which surfers use Jet Skis or helicopters to slingshot them into a position to catch fast-moving, 30-foot-plus waves.
Golf, then -- with its country-club clientele and fiercely guarded traditions -- would seem an unlikely arena for Hamilton's latest innovation, but he sure looks pretty comfortable cruising the course on his new GolfBoard.
Hamilton partnered with Bally's Total Fitness founder Don Wildman and a team of Oregon-based entrepreneurs to create the GolfBoard, a maneuverable electric skateboard that can reach speeds up to 12 mph designed to carry golfers and their gear through 18 holes in a way that, Hamilton said, could hook the next generation of potential recreational golfers on the beauty of a golf course.
"Golf courses are magical places that cost a lot of money to own and run, but they're not being used to their full potential," said Hamilton, 50, who lives between Kauai, Hawaii, and Malibu, Calif. "We know from the statistics that golf needs some stimulation. We could speed the game up, get some young people out there and give them a workout. We feel this is a no-brainer."
The perfect combination of rolling terrain, dynamic topography and well-groomed surfaces make golf courses the best places to ride, says Hamilton. Having grown up near several high-end courses, Hamilton is no stranger to "banging hundreds of balls a day for months on end," but now he prefers to hop on his GolfBoard to play a lawless, surf-golf hybrid game with Wildman called "Renegade Golf" so that he can "get a workout, not just a sore back."
Wildman provided Golf.com with his "Renegade Golf Manifesto," 10 tounge-in-cheek commandments edgy enough to curl the hair on USGA rules officials (and grammar buffs) the octogenarian sends to potential playing partners before a 'Renegade' round.
- 1. Fun..SURF the TURF..Is the Name of the game....GolfBoard is a Must
- 2. Don't keep Score ( as Mark Twain said A Good walk Ruin )
- 3. If U can Go Shirtless &,Shoeless or bikini with Hat backwards or Sideway
- 4. Only Take Two Balls & One Club ( that's what we where Born with )
- 5. Square Up / No One Eye Putting / Sam Snead Style
- 6. Play from WOMANs tee ( It takes a REAL man
- 7. keep Moving /don't hold up Play ( pickup U don't have play Every hole / it's about the RIDING the GREEN WAVE
- 8. Be Tolerant ( long educational process ). SnowBooarding took Time/ Up hill Battle
- 9. Take good Care of the Course ( its a BEAUTIFUL Skate PARK
- 10. Don't Have to BIG of SMILE on your Face ... It will Piss off the other MEMBERS
For now, GolfBoard is just angling for a way into the industry it could disrupt. After raising over $100,000 on Kickstarter, the company manufactured an initial product line and began selling GolfBoards for about $4,000 apiece. President Paul Hodge called the initial response "overwhelming" and expects his strongest market to be direct sale to golf courses looking to augment their fleets of golf carts with something a bit more...fun.
"In the end, it's about how to make things more fun and interesting," said Hamilton. "Just because that's the way it's done doesn't mean it's the only way."