Sure, walking 18 holes lets you social distance on the course. But a more fun way to physically separate yourself from others out there? The Phat Golf single-rider electric scooter. With your bag strapped to it, you can cruise down the fairway at up to 20 MPH, with a cool breeze in your face. It’s exhilarating, to say the least. I should know: In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve ridden this product twice now and am a big fan.
Maybe because I own an electric bike, I felt completely comfortable from the first moment on the Phat Golf Scooter. Essentially, it’s a 170-pound Vespa that golfers power by twisting the throttle. It’s easy and intuitive to operate. Plus, it’s whisper quiet and gives a cushioned, smooth ride. And its oversized tires lend a sense of stability. Many courses with a Phat fleet let golfers ride the scooter down the middle of the fairway — even when “Cart Path Only” signs are out in full force — and then steer it right up to the green.
It can truly speed up the pace of a round, without any sense of rush. With no groups ahead to slow you down, your foursome can leisurely play 18 holes in three hours riding these as each person beelines directly to their next shot in a matter of seconds. In fact, it may help players focus more on their own game: Driving only to their ball affords extra time to figure out which club to hit next and where to aim.
Three speed modes top off at eight, 12, and 20 miles per hour, respectively, so anyone can set it to their comfort level. Acclimating and feeling in control comes easily, as the scooter accelerates and slows down smoothly, and even while it turns tight corners and negotiates steep hills.
The company’s new 2020 HD model is an improvement over the original. It features a 1,500 watt motor with increased torque, all-terrain radial tires, improved power management, and a revamped kickstand that moves much more fluidly than its predecessor’s. It also garners between 30 and 50 miles per battery charge, depending on the rider’s weight and the course’s terrain, according to Derrick Mains, the company’s president.
Though there are other single-rider golf scooters on the market, what sets Phat apart from the competitors is its “step-through design and big tires,” says Mains. “Tour pro Pat Perez said it’s like riding a couch because it’s so comfortable. But the biggest differentiators are our service, research and development, production, and two-year warranty. We fabricate many of our components and do all manufacturing in Arizona.”
And if you’ve tried the various electric skateboard-style vehicles at some courses and found them daunting or difficult to operate, feel confident that Phat Scooters are completely different. Those other devices can actually distract you from the game as you glance ahead and worry how you’re going to get around winding curves and the like. With the scooters, there are no such issues. If you’re familiar with riding a bicycle and driving a regular electric cart, you will be just fine on them.
According to Mains, Phat Golf Scooters are currently offered as a rental at 60 courses around America, including Whirlwind Golf Club and Pine Canyon Club, both Troon-managed facilities located in Arizona. Mains expects that course list to grow by nearly 50 percent this year.
If you live on or near a course, you may want to inquire if you’re able to bring your own scooter. That’s because Phat sells a consumer version of the vehicle on its website (www.PhatScooters.com), where you can customize fender colors and accessories. “Many courses are now allowing members to bring their own Phat Golf Scooters,” says Mains. “From a compliance perspective, single-rider vehicles are now a safe way to play.”
Try a scooter once, but beware: Because it adds such a fresh dimension to your round without taking away from the actual golf experience, you may never want to play without one again. Especially during a pandemic.