Forget self-driving cars and community-share bikes. The future of urban transportation might be golf carts. In American towns scattered across the South and Sun Belt, the compact, open golf cart has become the transport of choice, ferrying residents who prefer their size and convenience to larger, gas-thirsty vehicles, according to reporting from The Atlantic.
Sprawling planned communities like Florida’s The Villages offer the perfect ecosystem for golf cart travel. Designed with golf-obsessed, sun-loving retirees in mind, The Villages contains 90 miles of infrastructure specifically meant for golf carts—including bridges, parking lots, and roads shrunk to cart width, according to Deane Simpson’s Young-Old: Urban Utopias of an Aging Society. Golf carts are so common and so integrated into life in The Villages that the locals decorate and customize their rides with aluminum grilles and vintage headlights. There are even multiple golf cart dealers in town.
Like smart cars, the agile imports that Europeans adore for their ability to squeeze into tight spaces, golf carts are easier on the environment. Besides being lightweight, they aren’t usually gas-powered. (They also share some of the safety hazards that come along with smaller cars sharing the road in a Hummer-sized world.)
In places with ceaseless warm weather, it’s not hard to imagine a future where bike paths and highways are joined by golf cart lanes, and teenagers and senior citizens alike can jump behind the wheel for a short drive to school, the grocery store, or, of course, the golf club.
Looking to buy? Check out some options below or peruse the 11 best golf carts to make your fellow EZ-GOers jealous.