Carts at Grand Rapids’ Indian Trails Golf Course are going electric

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The carts at a Grand Rapids golf course are going electric.

The move from gas-powered carts to electric ones at city-owned Indian Trails Golf Course, 2776 Kalamazoo Ave. SE, will come with an increase to cart rental fees but also new, in-vehicle amenities.

Graham Rayburn, clubhouse manager at Indian Trails, said each of the new carts come with a display unit providing GPS (Global Positioning System) features and an ability to order food from the clubhouse and communicate with the pro shop right from the cart.

The GPS functions show where the cart is on the course as well as how many yards the cart is from a selected position, such as a hole or bunker.

To offset the cost of the display unit software and the switch to electric, golf cart rental fees will likely be $3 more this season, making it $11 for nine holes and $16 for 18 holes, Rayburn said. Green fees on top of cart rental fees vary.

The new electric carts will be available when the golf course opens for the season this spring — usually around early-to-mid April.

David Marquardt, director of the city’s parks department, said the switch is part of finding greener solutions within the department to align with the city’s goals.

Grand Rapids city leaders have set a goal of reaching 85% carbon reduction by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2040 for all municipal emissions.

“We do lease our carts, and so that is a part of what prompted this switch,” Marquardt said. “Our lease agreement with the gas carts was coming up and we were looking for ways in which we can meet some of the city’s sustainability goals here within the Parks and Recreation Department, and this is one way in which to do that.”

City commissioners signed off on the 60-month lease of 54 electric golf carts, as well as four gas-powered turf maintenance vehicles and one utility vehicle, on Jan. 10. The annual cost of the lease is $78,000.

Marquardt said the lease for the electric carts is slightly more expensive than it was for gas carts.

The software in the carts, called Visage from the Club Car company, will also be a benefit to workers, Rayburn said.

It will give workers a real-time map of where the carts are at on the course, showing any slowdowns, and allow employees to directly message specific carts.

Additionally, the software allows the carts to be geofenced, meaning course officials can mark places on the course out-of-bounds that will stop the carts automatically until the driver turns back.

Rayburn gave the putting greens as an example of a place that would be marked out of bounds for the carts.

However, he said, workers can turn off the geofencing on specific carts if someone has different needs and requires to be closer to certain areas than is otherwise allowed.

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