The Electric Trolley Movement – Key Takeaways
- Use of electric trolleys is growing in the U.S.
- Usage still small compared to Europe.
- U.S. golfers prefer remote-control units.
- 7,000 golfers in eight countries surveyed by Motocaddy
We’ve written about it plenty but the electric trolley movement isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. In fact, it’s just the opposite.
Currently, the global market for electric trolleys (or electric caddies, if you will) stands just north of $130 million. By the end of the decade, that figure is expected to reach $200 million.
Industry leader Motocaddy has just released the results of a global survey of 7,000 golfers across the world’s top eight golf markets. The results are simultaneously surprising and about what you’d expect. And since it was Motocaddy that commissioned the study, it’s reasonable to take the results with a wee grain of salt.
But the results do put the U.S. market into its proper perspective compared to the rest of our big round ball. And the study does substantiate a mostly anecdotal observation:
The electric trolley movement is, in fact, a movement.
Survey Says …
As mentioned, the Motocaddy survey questioned 7,000 golfers in the world’s eight largest golf-playing countries: the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, France, Australia, Japan and South Korea. The survey gives a very broad look at electric trolley usage, perceived benefits and overall satisfaction, as well as individual market breakdowns and preferences.
In broad terms, the golfers surveyed say an electric trolley is the most satisfying way to get around a golf course. And being able to walk the course without extra strain is cited as the biggest overall benefit. Additionally, golfers surveyed also say they have more energy during the round, enjoy themselves more and maintain a good pace of play.
More than one-third of the golfers surveyed say an electric trolley helps them play better golf and nearly half say they actually play more often when fatigue or fitness issues might otherwise keep them at home.
As with any survey, it’s important to consider the source. With that in mind, here are a couple of tidbits that may make you think a bit. First, if you’re struggling with the price tag of an electric trolley, the survey tells us trolley users are more likely to believe it’s a better investment in their golf game than a new set of clubs.
Second, the survey says nearly all electric trolley users—as in 99 percent of those surveyed—are either “very” or “quite” satisfied with their purchase. By comparison, fewer than half the golfers who use other methods of getting their clubs around the course (riding, pushing, carrying) say they’re “very” satisfied.
The UK and Ireland lead the planet in electric trolley usage. In the UK, 65 percent of those surveyed use electric trolleys, 21 percent use standard pushcarts, 11 percent carry and only three percent ride. In Ireland, electric trolley usage tops 66 percent while 26 percent use pushcarts and six percent carry.
U.S. numbers are pretty much what you’d expect. Most golfers (57 percent) ride while 24 percent are members of the pushcart mafia. The remaining 19 percent is evenly split between electric trolleys and carrying. Regardless, there’s plenty to suggest the electric trolley movement is well underway.
“That’s a dramatic rise from two years ago,” says Motocaddy U.S. President Roger Teat. “The electric trolley category is still in its infancy in the U.S. COVID didn’t help many things but one thing it did do was not only drastically increase golf participation but it also increased walking the course for social distancing.”
The U.S. market also tends to skew older than the other seven countries surveyed. Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed in the U.S. are over the age of 60. In all the other countries, at least half the golfers are younger than 60.
Americans are also more likely to prefer a remote-controlled electric trolley than, say, the Brits, who prefer to hold on to their electric trolley while on the course.
The Global Experience
Europe, and particularly the UK, were early electric trolley adopters. Golfers in France, Germany, Ireland and the UK all agree the biggest benefit to electric trolleys is being able to walk the course without strain. Most also agree electric trolleys help them play better due to having more energy during the round and having a more consistent swing.
Again, this is a Motocaddy sponsored survey. The notion of playing better is something we will most definitely put to the test.
Nearly all golfers in both France and Germany walk. In France, 48 percent use a pushcart while 44 percent use an electric trolley. In Germany, nearly 50 percent have an electric trolley and nearly 40 percent use pushcarts.
The Australian market may be the most interesting. More than 60 percent of the golfers surveyed Down Under are younger than 60. And nearly half of electric trolley owners have owned units for at least three years and as long as 10 years.
Like Americans, the Aussies tend to prefer remote-control units. MGI is far and away the leading brand there followed distantly by Motocaddy and PowaKaddy. Like Americans, Australians say mobile connectivity and an interactive experience are important features in electric trolleys.
Japanese golfers are riders, even more so than Americans. More than 70 percent of Japanese golfers surveyed say they ride while 21 percent use electric trolleys. The rest either carry or use old-fashioned two-legged caddies. In South Korea, nearly half the golfers surveyed say their courses won’t allow electric trolleys. Roughly 40 percent are riders and another 40 percent use human caddies. Fewer than 10 percent use electric trolleys.
What Does It All Mean?
It means it’s a pretty good time to be in the electric trolley business, that’s what. One might look at the small penetration in the U.S. and conclude those things are too damned expensive and there’s no market here. But that would be a mistake. By all accounts, the market has grown substantially over the past two years. And, yeah, only nine percent of the golfers surveyed use electric trolleys. But that means 91 percent don’t.
So the old business truism applies: If you want to sell shoes, go find the barefoot people.
Especially if those barefoot people are discovering the joys of walking the golf course.
“Golfers are realizing the health benefits of walking,” says Teat. “But it’s also a much better social experience without the toll that pushing a cart or carrying a bag has on the body throughout the round.”
As far as pricing goes, well, they’re definitely more expensive than a pushcart. A standard model with a light waterproof lithium battery, such as the Motocaddy M1, will run over $1,000. For 2022, Motocaddy has also updated its top-selling M7 Remote unit with a 3.5-inch full-color screen. It retails for $1,549. MGI’s Zip Navigator, also a remote-controlled unit, sells for just under $1,500.
You’ll see a couple of new, and what we think will be compelling, updates to the Motocaddy trolley line later this spring. The company also offers standard pushcarts as well as cart and stand bags.
Also this spring, you’ll see an interesting new laser rangefinder from Motocaddy. The Pro 500 GPS features Slope Technology and connects to Motocaddy’s GPS phone app via Bluetooth. You’ll be able to read yardage to the front and back of the green while you’re shooting the pin. It’s due out later this spring and will retail for $299.
The Electric Trolley Movement Keeps Moving
If you’re reading this in Europe, Australia or Asia, you know there’s already a healthy electric trolley market. Here in the U.S., the market is still emerging. While price remains an obstacle, it’s not as though golfers in the UK, Ireland, France or Germany are getting electric trolleys on the cheap. Pricing there is on par with pricing here so clearly there’s a sweet spot where price, convenience, features and desire intersect.
The Motocaddy survey does lend some amount of validation to our own anecdotal market observations. Two years ago, electric trolleys in the U.S. were a curiosity as best and an oddity at worst. This past season, however, we noticed more electric trolleys on courses than ever before. And instead of asking what the hell is that?, more golfers now want to know the make, model and features.
And, of course, the price.
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