Your Complete Guide to Purchasing a Golf Cart

guide to buying a golf cart

Table of Contents

  1. Things to Consider when Buying a Golf Cart
  2. Buying an Electric Golf Cart
  3. Buying a Gas Golf Cart
  4. Buying a Street Legal Golf Cart
  5. Major Golf Cart Manufacturers
    1. Club Car
    2. Yamaha
    3. Columbia
  6. Additional Builds, Options, & Accessories for Golf Carts
  7. Where to Look when You’re Ready to Buy
  8. How Much Should I Expect to Spend on a Golf Cart?

Golf Cart Resource can help you make a purchasing decision by giving you a broad picture of what carts cost, with a little golf cart history thrown in for good measure. We’ll start by explaining that the term “golf cart” has evolved to mean the carts we drive around a golf course or on the street. Originally, a golf cart meant the pull carts designed to hold one bag and be moved with human effort or the aid of electric power. The original two-passenger cart we know today was called a golf car, because it was driven and powered like an automobile. Contemporary use has evolved to the point where every conveyance used to play golf is called a golf cart.

A few things to consider when buying a Golf Cart

Now let’s get into some of the details. The first thing you’ll find is that the choices are nearly as unlimited as you’ll see when shopping for an automobile. There are new golf carts, used and refurbished golf carts, custom golf carts, vintage golf carts, fleet golf carts, electric golf carts and gas golf carts. Real environmentalists will likely choose an electric cart because there are no emissions that will contribute to bad air. The acceleration is almost immediate. The batteries can typically last through 36 holes without charging and the cart produces little noise, even when the top speed is 20+ miles per hour. The distance the cart will go on a full charge is something to look at before making a purchase. For a better understanding of how far a cart can go on a charge, read our article on how long batteries will last on a single charge.

If you are buying a used cart or a former fleet cart you should also find out the age of the batteries, because old batteries will take you shorter distances than new. Plus, buying a complete new set of batteries can be costly. You also should check out the charger, as the newer “smart” chargers will only send juice to the batteries when they need it, which is critical if the cart is not going to be used for long periods of time. Another important consideration is the controller, which can be set to achieve different levels of speed. For instance, higher speeds will result in using more charge from the batteries resulting in less range per full charge.

Buying an Electric Golf Cart

The first electric golf cart is said to have been invented by Merle Williams of Long Beach, who invented the homemade vehicle in 1932 to get around gas rationing. Alas, he did not create the vehicle for playing golf, but to make transportation available to people who could not walk very far. His original cart had three wheels and tiller steering, a configuration that lasted into the 1970’s. The cart design did not utilize four wheels and was not steered by a steering wheel until the late 1970’s.

Moving on to present day, prices for an electric cart can vary from around $2,000 to over $20,000. Some of the best buys are former fleet carts that were used by golf course owners. Obviously, their initial price was lower than the cost of an individual cart because they are leasing or buying anywhere from 100 to 400 carts at one time. You may be thinking an old fleet cart will not be a good buy because of the number of rounds it has already completed and because the drivers might not have taken good care of the cart. This is definitely something to consider when purchasing, however, that thought can be somewhat mitigated by the fact that the course owner must keep every cart operational to make a profit. That means the carts are regularly charged, the batteries are kept in good condition and any repairs or parts replacement is pretty much mandatory for efficient course operation. For more information on what to look for when purchasing a refurbished or used cart, take a look here.

Buying a Gas Golf Cart

The first gas golf cart was introduced by Max Walker who called the cart (you guessed it) the Walker Executive when it hit the road in 1957. It had three wheels, tiller steering and carried two people. It was very similar to its electric cousin. Some users prefer a gas cart because they can go farther and just refill when low – compared to an electric cart that must be charged for long hours before being able to use again. Gas fans also do not have to worry about expensive battery replacement. However, gas carts do require regular ongoing maintenance that adds up quickly such as oil changes, filter replacements, belt changes, etc. For more information on what to look for when purchasing a used gas cart, take a look here.

Buying a Street Legal Golf Cart

Both gas and electric carts can be made street legal, a plus for the many golfers who live in a gated community or who like to take their cart to a nearby shopping center or clubhouse. Street legal carts require a windshield, headlights and taillights, turn signals, seat belts and a valid license plate. Many people tend to ignore those requirements and take their carts on public streets, but that behavior could be opening the door to a traffic citation if you are stopped by law enforcement. The Villages, an adult community in Florida, is said to have over 43,000 golf carts used by residents for both golf and routine transportation needs. For more info on State Laws, check out our dedicated map to find your state.

Major Golf Cart Manufacturers

After the initial versions of the electric and gas cart were offered, several companies emerged that were dedicated to the production and sale of branded carts. E-Z-GO was started in 1954, Cushman in 1955, Club Car in 1958, Taylor Dunn in 1960, Harley Davidson in 1963 (which was later sold to Columbia in 1982) and Yamaha in 1977. Unlike automobiles, the United States has maintained its position as the largest manufacturer of golf carts for both recreational and commercial use.

About Club Car Golf Carts

Club Car has been manufacturing golf carts for commercial and personal use for many years. They use advanced manufacturing techniques to drive production up and cost down. Their premise began by developing golf carts for golf courses and has evolved into other market segments over the years.

Starting in 1958, Club Car was established in Texas. In fact, it was not even named Club Car in the beginning. In 1958, the Club Car we know today was named Landreath Machine. Then, in 1962, the company was moved to the famous golf cart mecca of Augusta, GA. It was purchased by Bill Stevens and the company went on to develop its first model named the “Carouche.” However, as it was meant to be elegant, it was quickly referred to as the “cockroach”.

As a small golf cart manufacturer through the 1960s and 1970s, it started to gain attention from some interesting parties. For instance, Bill and Beverly Dolan started E-Z-GO together, however, Bill Dolan left with 7 other top level E-Z-GO executives to take over the small, yet competitive, company Club Car. It became official in 1978, and the Club Car manufacturer we know today started to officially grow and become the competitive golf cart manufacturer to E-Z-GO.

In 1980, Club Car brought in designer Dom Saporito to put together the stylish electric golf cart that we know as the Club Car DS. The DS got its name from Dom Saporito’s name. From there, the next innovative model came to light in 1985 as the Club Car Carryall. The Carryall was a utility vehicle built upon the golf cart design.

Club Car would make a few more ownership changes over the years. In fact, Club Car had an IPO on 1993 and would officially be on the NASDAQ. Not too long thereafter, Club Car was acquired by Ingersoll Rand where it resides yet to this day.

For more than 50 years, their employees have been a driving force behind the success of the company.

Committed to Excellence

The headquarters of Club Car is presently in Augusta, and as stated, they have been working under Ingersoll Rand which is a top manufacturer of quality machinery. They have been working day in and day out to manufacture types of golf carts that will help enhance production efficiency.

  • The transportation and utility of the golf carts manufactured by Club Car is considered to be one of the best in the industry
  • They are the leaders in terms of production, efficiency, and low-cost manufacturing
  • They have almost 40 base models of the golf carts that are being used for the personal and commercial purpose
  • They have been using the state of the art manufacturing to lead the industry

They have been designing golf carts with such diligence and with more than 600 distributors around the globe, Club Car is sure to continue to be around for decades to come and ensure to have great relations with their customers.

About Yamaha Golf Carts

Since 1887, Yamaha has been a name of innovation and integrity. They have been providing their customers’ products that spread a wide variety of industries from musical equipment to power sports equipment. They can be regarded as pioneers for the advancement of technology.

This is the reason that Yamaha can be regarded as a leading manufacturer of golf carts and other products. Yamaha has been working to keep their standards high so that no one can match their level and status. Since the beginning, their product line has been expanding to include more golf carts, motorcycles, and other power sports equipment. The best thing is that they have been excelling in every one of them.

Yamaha’s first golf cart

The first golf cart by Yamaha was introduced in the US market in 1978 well after the market had initially started. It was named the G1 and it worked via a 2-cycle gas engine. In 1979, Yamaha introduced their first electrical golf cart and from there the journey began.

Since then they have introduced several new models of golf carts, and offer something different and unique for every model release. By consistently designing new models of golf carts, they are creating a reason for repeat customers to upgrade their cart.

Yamaha’s road to success

In order to succeed, Yamaha has been providing its customers with:

  • Functionality
  • Quality
  • Innovative Features
  • Durability
  • Eco-friendly designs

By designing customer-oriented services, Yamaha ensures that they will provide you with the best. Yamaha wants to be at the top of everything. This is the reason that they never rest and work to introduce something new that will amaze their rivals. Yamaha has one of the largest customer counts around the globe and they have been maintaining it by providing the best. Yamaha wants you to enjoy your ride.

About Columbia Vehicles

Columbia ParCar, a member of the Nordic Group of Companies, has been manufacturing vehicles since the 1980s after they acquired Harley Davidson Golf Carts from AMC. You’re probably thinking that’s a boatload of golf carts, but Columbia also makes electric vehicles for commercial and industrial uses. You’ve probably ridden in one of their carts at an airport or resort, or have seen them used in large factories for moving both parts and people.

That said, they actually have sold a large quantity of golf carts in places like The Villages in Florida where at last count there were 43,000 golf carts and where ParCar is a major brand there. They have also sold a large amount of carts in the golf cart laiden land of Arizona.

ParCar has been a force in the golf industry for years, a true legacy of fun and unexpected birdies. ParCar is now history. But the legacy lives on with Columbia’s recent acquisition of Tomberlin Automotive Group, another cart manufacturer that has been quite popular since it was founded in 2006.

ParCar and Tomberlin merge to become only Tomberlin

The two brands have recently merged and are now marketed under the Tomberlin name. The popular Eagle Series and Legacy Touring Series once available under the ParCar name have now become the Tomberlin Eagle and the Tomberlin Legacy Touring. They will join Tomberlin’s distinctively designed E-MERGE series cart. While there are two different narratives, the lines will share some common features.

For example, all Tomberlin carts have durable steel frames, giving them exceptional longevity. With a rust treatment in humid areas these carts could outlast their owners. In addition, all Tomberlin carts will carry on the ParCar tradition of truly robust driver motors. Particularly hilly courses will pose no problems for these carts, so blast it as far into the rough as you’d like.

Other notable features are highly efficient chargers and energy recovery braking that adds to the batteries’ charge when the brakes are applied. This contributes to a range per charge of 40 to 50 miles (yes miles). Golfers will also like the fact that the performance can be programmed. You can set things up to hit maximum speed at 17 miles per hour, or conserve energy and dial everything back. On a crowded day on the course there is nothing gained by getting to your ball faster only to face a longer wait before you can hit, so why not conserve your batteries.

When you’ve been building golf carts since the end of World War II, you accumulate the experience and technology to offer a truly state-of-the-art vehicle, and that is exactly what the new version of ParCar/Tomberlin plans to do. As a golfer you can look to Tomberlin for excellent construction and durability, commanding performance and style that will stand out on the fairway. Think of it…a truly great looking cart can distract other players from dissecting your swing.

About Nordic Group (Columbia’s parent company)

The Nordic Group of Companies has its HQ in Baraboo, Wisconsin. It is a privately-held holding company with 22 facilities and 24 marketing units around the world. The company employs over 2,400 people. Products include plastic seating and transportation vehicles (that’s where the golf carts fit in) for industrial, commercial and consumer markets (that’s where you and your golfing buddies come in.)

You’ll find the new carts are sold in the U.S.A., South America, Europe and Asia. Pretty much wherever people chase the little white ball invented in Scotland so long ago.

Additional Builds, Options & Accessories for Golf Carts

With both types of carts, the price can depend on a number of considerations, such as public or private use, new versus used, cart capacity and available options. The options can really add to the cost, and include features like roof mounted air conditioning, an enclosure, a radio/sound system, a custom steering wheel or seats, paint treatments, lift kits and custom tires and items mounted to the cart like a cooler, a ball washer, holders for grass seed containers, a rear view mirror and special grills to make the cart look like various popular automobiles.

It is not uncommon to visit a course today and see carts tricked out to look like a Rolls Royce, a Bentley, a Mercedes, an Aston Martin, a Ford Mustang, Porsche, or Ferrari. (Another cart you can read about is a ParCar golf cart that Hoonigan re-fitted to accommodate a snowmobile engine and hit some serious speed.)

Where to look when you’re ready to purchase a Golf Cart

If you are looking for a used cart, you can check neighborhood classifieds or golf course bulletin boards. You usually find someone who is upgrading their ride and wants to sell their current cart. A good move on your part would be to have a reputable source check the cart before writing the check. You can also look at local golf cart dealers, many of which keep an inventory of previously enjoyed carts that have undergone a complete check-up. You’ll find you will pay a little more at a golf cart dealer, but you will gain some piece of mind and a place you can take care of any problems that might emerge or add options you’d like to have. We also have a For Sale section where you can search for thousands of golf carts for sale from dealers around the nation.

How Much Should I Expect to Spend on a Golf Cart?

We keep an up-to-date price list of golf cart costs here, however, generally speaking, you can purchase a very functional used cart (including one that was part of a course’s fleet) for between $2,000 to $4,000. For $4,000 to $7,000 you can buy a well-equipped used cart with lots of options or a new cart with none to few add-ons. From $7,000 to $10,000 you can invest in a new cart that will come with many popular bells and whistles and all the latest performance features. When you venture into the $10,000+ range you are looking at a highly customized new or used cart that others will surely notice when you roll up to the first tee. As it always is, you pay for what you get.

Other Specialty Golf Carts

There are also specialized carts that are relatively new to the marketplace. The SoloRider is a cart that is specially designed to allow those with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy golf. There is also a new concept called the GolfBoard that is powered and driven something like a skateboard. It is designed for a single player and can speed up play because each player can go directly to their ball plus offer 75% less turf damage on the course.

Check out a video of the GolfBoard

Interested in hearing what others are saying about various Golf Cart Makes and Models? Check out our Consumer Reviews here.

Whatever cart mode of transportation you choose, hit ‘em straight and stay off the greens (with your cart).

author- Ken Becker
Ken is a veteran of the golf industry, with experience in golf course operations, country club marketing, tournament staging (including the nationally televised ProStakes) and too many mis-hit shots to count. He has been writing since he could hold a pen and has been published in numerous national and industry publications. Ken has worked on projects with PGA pros like Jack Nicklaus, Peter Jacobsen, Fuzzy Zoeller, Chi Chi Rodriguez and Craig Stadler.