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Courses Slow to Adopt Single-Player Cars That Speed Pace of Play
By Kelly Hill

The latest innovation in the golf car industry has proven to dramatically increase the pace of play. Does that mean it also has the potential to dramatically increase profits?

Golf course owners across the state apparently do not doubt the theory behind this newest innovation, but they do, apparently, question its benefits.

This latest innovation is the Fairway 8000 Single-Rider, a single-player car designed and manufactured by Fairway Golf Cars, a division of Ortho-Kinetics, Inc. which is based in Waukesha, WI.

According to Fairway spokesman John Perez, the 8000 Single-Rider poses substantial benefits to any club bold enough to make a change.

"This is significant stuff," Perez said. "We are talking about a six-figure increase to the bottom line, strictly because of the pace of play." The theory is that an increase in the pace of play means more play and more play means more profits.

"The Fairway 8000 Single-Rider golf car allows each golfer to follow their own ball rather than waiting for their riding companion," states Fairway's promotional material. "Faster rounds of golf translate into shorter tee time intervals, in turn adding capacity which is impossible to attain with a two-rider golf car."

Interest in this innovation has been brisk, according to Perez and Michigan distributor Don Jeffery of J & L Distributors of Lake, but doubt also has been brisk. "They love the idea that it obviously speeds up play," Jeffery said of the course owners he has contacted. "But, people don't know if it's going to work. I don't know of a golf course that doesn't want more business, but a lot of people are saying, 'I don't want to be the first to use it.' Part of the problem is getting people to try something new," Jeffery continued. "This is going to work, it is just a matter of when."

The Fairway 8000 Single-Rider, which is available only in an electric model, weighs only 350 pounds and features all of the amenities common to traditional two-player cars.

Jeffery conducted an experiment in Florida with 40 of the cars, in which he paired two pros and two high-handicap players in 10 foursomes. The fastest rounds recorded in the experiment were played in 2 hours and 45 minutes. The slowest rounds were played in 2:58.

Steve Southard, the general manager at Pierce Lake Golf Club in Chelsea also conducted an experiment, on a typical league night. Southard did not employ the Single-Rider, but he sent the course's league players out with one player per cart. "We have one league in particular that always battles with slow play," Southard said. "We played 35 or 40 minutes faster for every nine holes, so I have no doubt that an 18-hole round would be at least an hour quicker than usual."

As has been the typical response to Fairway's 8000 Single-Rider, Southard's experiment raised numerous questions. "On our course, I don't know if we could handle much more play, and I think a lot of courses are that way," Southard said. "One other problem I have is that they are all electric cars. I don't know if a course has the facilities to charge 144 cars."

The low cost of play at Pierce Lake, which is a municipal course, could be one reason for its playing near capacity. "It would be tough to get any more people out here," Southard said. "We could get more people out here, but on league nights especially, many of these guys are out here just to be with their buddies."

While Southard said Pierce Lake will not make a move to Single-Riders, he did praise at least one benefit of the new car. "I think it's the closest thing to walking," Southard said. "It is easier for players to help each other look for balls while also speeding up play. I think it's a good idea, but I don't know if it's going to work. It is a pretty good idea, though."

Perez noted that Boyne and Treetops are among the facilities that have expressed an interest in the Fairway 8000 Single-Rider. "A lot of interest exists," Perez said, "but no one wants to be the first guy on the block to go to it."

For more information on the Fairway Golf Car, call 888-320-4850.

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