GolferPal EasyPal Power Folding Push Cart
Let’s face it, in some golfing circles push carts have a bit of an image problem. When I first mentioned to my golfing buddies that I was thinking about getting one they, being kind and supportive friends, suggested that I could use it to carry my Metamucil and Depends. They might have been onto something, because:
- My first thought was “On the course is the last place I would want Metamucil.”
- The whole point of getting a push cart is that I have a bad habit of carrying too much stuff.
Pictured: Too Much Stuff
Unfortunately, I’m the guy who takes everything out on the golf course: jacket, umbrella, tees, extra golf balls, ibuprofen, beef jerky and of course a fifth of “swing oil”. Basically my bag is a disaster and even worse that stuff doesn’t carry itself. I told myself it was good exercise, and after all that’s why I was walking in the first place. I told myself to man up and tote the bag. I even tried taking out everything I thought I wouldn’t need for each round, but I ended up leaving a trail from the course to the car to the garage of discarded windshirts, extra tees, and spare golf balls (notice that ibuprofen, beef jerky, and swing oil always stayed in the bag). I inevitably forgot to repack something that I hadn’t needed for the last round, but desperately needed for this one, and my detail-oriented nature left me spending brain cycles that I couldn’t spare wondering whether I’d remembered to pack things that I probably wouldn’t need anyway.
Ironically what finally broke me was trying to get in shape. I took up running, and I learned a lot about myself. One thing I learned is that I had been operating pretty close to the limit of my endurance for a long time. Running on Saturday meant that on Sunday my round was pretty much over by the 14th tee. My legs were shot, my back ached, and I could barely swing the club (in the interest of full disclosure, that happened a lot before I started running, too.) The obvious answer was to give up all this walking foolishness and ride, but in addition to being out of shape I’m also kind of stubborn, so I decided that before I went that far I’d try a push cart.
If I have to lie, steal, cheat, or kill, as God is my witness, I will never carry my golf bag again.
Since I’ve become a pusher I’ve fielded lots of questions about my cart, and carts in general. It seems that many golfers would use a push cart, but they don’t know which one they want. Choosing the perfect cart is always a trade-off: do you want the one that folds the smallest or the one that rides best? Solid tires don’t lose air, but the hard ones bounce the cart around. Four wheels are stable, three wheels are maneuverable. The list goes on, and I have some bad news for golfers who are paralyzed by choice in the push cart market – you just got another decision to make.
The EasyPal push cart from GolferPal is a nice, fairly standard four-wheel push cart with a twist: it will fold and unfold itself. Thanks to a battery that’s not much larger than the one in my camcorder (people still use camcorders, right?), some fancy gears and actuators that look like they came straight out of Robot Wars, you simply lay this puppy on the ground, turn a dial, push a button, and Johnny Five is alive! When you’re done with your round, turn the dial, push the button, and the EasyPal obediently returns itself to its 26.4″ x 15.75″ x 11.5 folded size. It makes a flat, cube-ish bundle that fits well in a variety of trunks. GolferPal claims that it will do this neat trick for a year’s worth of golf on a single charge in the battery (they do stipulate that they’re assuming you play only one round per week, but I guess it could happen.)
As you can see from the video, that is extremely cool. The first time I unfolded our sample EasyPal at my home course I was immediately surrounded by the Wednesday Morning Gang, all wanting to know what that thing was. I put the EasyPal through its paces a few times, folding and unfolding (and folding, and unfolding, and…) and fielded questions. Typical of the Wednesday Morning Gang, someone finally asked the important question: “How is it on the course?”
That’s the rub, isn’t it? You open and close your push cart once per round. You push it for 3-4 hours. If it’s a pain to live with, all the extra hardware is just a gimmick.
I’ll spare you the suspense. If you’re in the market for a push cart, the EasyPal is well worth a look. GolferPal didn’t simply slap some cool electronics on the cheapest cart they could OEM, the EasyPal is pretty clearly the result of a coherent design concept that accommodates the extra hardware, but doesn’t feel built around it.
Starting from the cockpit, the EasyPal is laid out to be user-friendly. The handgrip styled bars are easy to adjust for height and angle, and once you’ve adjusted them the EasyPal will return them to the same angle each time it unfolds. I frequently push my cart with my torso while I mark my card, clean my clubs, or
stuff my face follow my nutrition plan, and I was a bit leery of the handgrips. After a bit of adjustment on my part they worked fine. I don’t know that they offer any advantage over the loop styled bar I’m used to, but they certainly didn’t cause any trouble.
Roger Roger, what’s the vector Victor?
Moving forward, the EasyPal has a large, covered tray for valuables, invaluables, tees, phones, ibuprofen, scorecards, and random detritus. The padded tray has a sturdy lid with a magnetic closure and a spring loaded hinge. I like this feature – when it’s open, it opens wide, and when it’s closed it stays closed. I carried the usual assortment of random items in it, phone, tees, sleeve of balls, and a handful of change, and the highest compliment I can pay it is that I put all that stuff into the divided tray (the smaller section exactly fits a sleeve of golf balls and just allows the lid to close. That’s either great design or really good luck) and was never bothered by it again. When I needed it, it was there.
Where is my net?
What wasn’t there was a net. Not all push carts have nets, but omitting one on a Dreadnought-class cart like the EasyPal is unusual. I like my net because I can’t toss things into a covered console and sort them out later. I frequently have a water, a beer, a sports drink, an apple, a protein bar, and a sandwich all in play at once, with my glove going on and off and me running out of tees thrown in for good measure. With a net, everything goes in the net and you can rummage around for what you need later. The covered console on the EasyPal doesn’t hold quite as much, but I never found myself with both hands full and no place to put things, either.
Moving past the cockpit and into the cargo hold, the EasyPal uses an elastic cord to secure the top of the bag. I like the security of having the bag attached to the cart rather than simply sitting on it. When I need to go off-roading I need to keep both eyes out for my traitorous golf ball, so I can’t spare one to make sure my bag isn’t about to be ejected.
At the foot of the bag is where I ran into an issue. The footwell of the EasyPal is, from an engineering standpoint, quite elegant. Situated between the front wheels, the well holds the foot of your bag securely and gets the weight down low where it stabilizes the cart and improves handling. Unfortunately the height of the well is not adjustable. That means that if your bag has bellows-style side pockets, they may well rub on the front wheels. It certainly didn’t help that my bellows pockets contained rain gear, vest, sunscreen, talc, chemical handwarmers, 11 gloves (I counted), and my rain cover, but even empty that sat on the top of the front wheels. Not only does this make the cart hard to push, I can’t imagine that it’s very good for the bag.
Fortunately, bags with narrower pockets or taller feet work just fine, and I was able to secure a loaner for this review, and the full-size staff bag fit the EasyPal like a glove. Carrying the enormous staff bag really brought the EasyPal into its element. The long wheelbase and stable 4-wheel geometry meant that even a bag the size of some furniture fit well and was easy to move. The long wheelbase and low-riding foot well let the bag lie back, which means that your clubs are easily accessible from the cockpit, and the upper bag mount is flexible enough to hold anything you can push.
I couldn’t find any specs for the wheel bearings in the EasyPal, but they deserve a mention, because the rolling resistance of the EasyPal is almost unbelievably low. It just doesn’t take a lot of effort to get it moving, or to keep it moving, which is impressive considering the solid feel and long wheelbase. GolferPal claims a curb weight a shade over 16 pounds, about half a pound lighter than my venerable Sun Mountain Speed Cart, but UPS says that my sample has a shipping weight of 29lbs, and there was nothing in the box except the cart, the charger, the accessories, and the instructions.
Manual Folding and other missing instructions
Which brings me to my most serious beef with the EasyPal. This is a unique cart, and it does require a bit of specialized knowledge. If it has been folded manually, it must be unfolded manually in order to reset the system before you can use the nifty auto fold/unfold. There’s even a separate warning flyer explaining how to do this, right on top of the box. What GolferPal doesn’t mention in this flyer, or in the meager instructions, is that you should manually unfold the cart the first time out of the box, as it was probably manually folded into the box. My sample refused to operate properly until I did so. In retrospect it seems almost obvious, but it certainly wasn’t obvious, or explicit, at the time.
The instructions also fail to mention that you can adjust the tracking of your EasyPal using a couple of screws on the front axle. This is a key feature for a 4-wheel cart, as bad alignment will keep the cart from tracking straight, making it an incredible hassle to use. Five minutes with a screwdriver had my EasyPal tracking perfectly, and no adjustment was needed when using different bags, or even when having a guest tester give it a whirl.
Turn left, go right (trust me it works)
GolferPal includes the usual accessories with the EasyPal – a drink holder that works well with all but the largest containers (pro-shop-sized containers work fine, oversized water bottles are doable, Big Gulps are right out), an umbrella holder that adjusts fore and aft and side to side, a nice touch, and a parking brake, operated by the lever on the right side of the cockpit, engages solidly and definitely keeps the cart from wandering off.
As for the EasyPal’s special skill, my first impression was that it was the answer to a question that nobody was asking. After living with my EasyPal for a month, however, I’m not eager to go back to folding and unfolding my own bag. It’s a little annoyance, but life is full of enough little annoyances that can’t be helped. I set the EasyPal down and press the button, change my shoes, and when I come back my cart is open and ready for my bag. When I’m done with my round, I reverse the process. If the GolferPal wanted a hefty premium for the convenience I might never have tried it, but the EasyPal is priced at a very competitive $239, which is less than some carts that you have to unfold for yourself.
If you’re tired of running out of gas before you run out of holes, a push cart might be just what the doctor ordered. The EasyPal is a solid entry in the full-sized cart market, and the convenience of auto folding makes it stand out from the other Star Destroyers roaming the fairways, but you might want to allow a little extra time for onlooker delays.
You can order the EasyPal from Amazon, or at the GolferPal website