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My Shot

March 07, 2005
March 07, 2005

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March 7, 2005

Sports Illustrated Bonus Section: Golf Plus
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My Shot

I was among the first to test the latest in locomotion for golfers. I'm afraid

Peering across a sea of green grass as I approach the 1st tee at the Westin Kierland Resort course in Scottsdale, Ariz., I feel a little like Christopher Columbus on the verge of discovering a new world. Unlike the explorer, I'm not that excited about the idea. I am perched on a Segway, the two-wheeled people mover introduced four years ago. At that time it was billed as a groundbreaking invention that would change the world. To date, that hasn't happened, but that doesn't mean Segway has stopped trying.

This is an article from the March 7, 2005 issue Original Layout

But can Segway really work for golf? A golfer traverses miles of bumpy terrain while hauling about 30 pounds of equipment. A sturdy mode of transportation is required, preferably one with air conditioning and lots of drink holders, not a motorized shopping cart with a specially designed holster for a bag of clubs.

My early efforts to drive the rig did not allay my fears. I wounded a good friend when I ran up his leg because I couldn't stop the thing--for which I am still very sorry. I also witnessed another prospective Segway user quit before even making it to the 1st tee. Most frightening, all this occurred without a drop of alcohol introduced into the equation. Yet this spring Kierland plans to make the Segway available for rental to the beer-swilling golf public. I can already hear the conversation in the pro shop: "Here's your receipt, your keys and your 14-page liability release form." Actually, I caught a glimpse of the real release form Kierland will use, and it's not 14 pages, but it is long.

Legal issues aside, I had agreed to approach the Segway with an open mind. The problem was that my mind was so preoccupied with the details of operating the Segway, I couldn't focus on golf. After smashing my first drive down the middle (a case of Segway fear blocking out damaging swing thoughts), I climbed on, shifted my weight forward and moved down the fairway. When I got to my ball, I leveled the machine by bringing it perpendicular to the ground and calmly stepped off the back. When I remounted, I waited for the green smiley-face light to come on, then shifted my weight forward again. Where was my ball? I had no idea.

Once I got the hang of it, it really was an amazingly intuitive machine. Of course if I followed my intuition, I never would've taken up golf. Still, by the 9th hole I felt I had pretty much figured it out. As I came up the fairway, I saw my instructor standing in the rough. Going by, I bent toward him to say, "Look at me now!" But in my enthusiasm I leaned too far, and the Segway creaked a little, then fell straight over on its side. As it skittered around in the dirt, wheels still spinning, I thought, Golf is not ready for this, but at least Kierland will have a great shot at hosting the next Association of Trial Lawyers convention.

COLOR PHOTOKATHRYN LAKE/SEGWAY EXPERIENCE LLCThe author (right) rides his Segway between crashes.