The Dangers of Golf Carts

… and you thought golf carts were just bad for the game — they are also apparently fatal in some instances:

FALLBROOK, Calif. (AP) – A 65-year-old golfer died Tuesday after his golf cart plunged 75 feet off a cliff and crashed into a road below, authorities said.

The man teed off with three friends on the second hole of the Pala Mesa Resort Golf Course in northern San Diego County at around 10 a.m. and then got into his cart.
The vehicle veered off the concrete pathway, traveled down a 25-foot embankment and went over the edge of a cliff, California Highway Patrol spokesman Tom Kerns said.

The recently retired real estate agent from Irvine was ejected shortly before the cart hit the road beneath the cliff and died on impact, Kerns said. His name was not immediately released.

No one else was involved in the crash.

Investigators will inspect the golf cart for mechanical failures, Kerns said.

Now everyone has a great golf cart story — just ask any club pro and they will regale you with crazed tales of cart drivers who drove into bunkers, ponds or onto greens.

I once encountered a guy who had somehow driven into the marsh in front of Angus Glen’s 12th hole. He asked me to help him extricate his cart. I declined.

Apparently among the worst cart stories stem from junior golf events where the parents, rather than simply walking, take carts out to follow their kids (and apparently set a good example about the benefits of walking). At a CJGA event last year at a high-end Toronto course, a pro told me a story about a parent getting caught in a sudden downpour. He hopped onto a cart to get back to the clubhouse and fell out along the way. A week later he was back to talk to the club about his medical problems, even though he didn’t rent the cart, didn’t know the kid driving the cart and couldn’t clarify the circumstances.

The best story I’ve heard came from Paul Innes, the pro at Dundee Golf Resort on Cape Breton Island. Dundee features some dramatically hilly land, especially on the final few holes. Apparently on the 16th, a plunging downhill par three, Innes, who was playing with an off-duty RCMP officer, came upon a twosome who had just finished hitting their tee balls. Knowing the twosome had consumed a few too many, Innes warned them about a difficult downhill turn on their way to the green. The pair didn’t listen, bombed down the hill, missed the turn and plowed through the wooden barricade, rolling the cart in the process. Surprisingly neither was all that injured. But the RCMP officer gave them two choices — and one involved paying for the cart on the spot.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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  • Just returned from a golfing week in Ireland and while playing Carne Golf Links as the rain started on the 18th tee, my buddy in the buggie started slowly on a steep incline, applied the brakes gradually but the cart slipped slideways, caught a ridge, and flipped landing on my buddy (who was driving – no alcohol involved). He strained his knee and had a limp due to the swelling and pain. Being of good Canadian stock, he played the final three rounds of the week walking the course (buggies not allowed on Lahinch or Ballybunion Old) and pulling a cart. He still managed a round in the 80s at Ballybunion on sideways rain, 40 mph wind conditions to the amazement of his 3 other golfing partners and caddies.

  • Robert, we have a golf pro from England who wrote a piece last year for my blog and had some great pics of ruined carts:
    Here is the summary for the year:
    Buggy Problems 2006

    Crashes into water or upturned – 3
    Tyre punctures – 9
    Broken Windscreens – 7
    Damaged bodywork – 10
    Flat Batteries – 25+
    Lost Keys – 3

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