We were waiting for the green to clear for our second shots into the par-5 15th hole at Awbrey Glen, when the snowboarder in Tim Fraley came out.
“We’ve got time to wait,” he says, “I might as well shred!”
And with that, the head golf professional and director of player development at the club was off — carving turns 100 yards down the fairway — on one of four GolfBoards we took out for the inaugural round played on the boards at Awbrey Glen Golf Club.
The course in northwest Bend on May 7 became the third in the area to get the boards following Tetherow, the first club to receive shipment of the boards last August, and Aspen Lakes in Sisters, which got four boards in September.
Fraley and I, plus Awbrey Glen C.O.O. and general manager Mark Amberson, and president of the club’s board Gary Chandler, went out for our spin around the course last Wednesday and the verdict was unanimous — we all loved it.
Fun, sturdy, stable, easy to ride, relaxing — all were terms used to describe our round on the boards at Awbrey Glen.
What is it?
The GolfBoard is a single rider, motorized, all-terrain skateboard for the course, with a bag stand and handle in the front. The acceleration trigger is either mounted on the handle or comes as a stand-alone remote control, and is responsive — just let go and the board comes to a smooth stop within 3 or 4 feet.
Steering, as with a skateboard or snowboard, is controlled by shifting your weight in the direction of the turn. Just lean left or right and the board responds.
Amberson, Chandler and I all had a little time (a few minutes) on the boards before we went out, while Fraley got out for a few minutes on the range and used the board for nine holes at Tetherow last fall.
The only instruction from Fraley: Make sure we gave each other plenty of room as we were tooling around the fairways.
A great ride
Chandler, 66, was the senior member of the group, but he raved about the experience after the round.
“It was a little intimidating at first, but after a short period of time I felt very comfortable on the board,” he said. “After a while you just start getting into the rhythm of it.”
Chandler usually walks the course “for fitness,” he said. “But the board really allows for much more of a full-body workout. I felt it in my legs, core, and even in my arms.”
While the rest of us rode with our feet positioned front and back (as on a skateboard or snowboard), Chandler placed his feet facing forward on each side of the board.
“I felt like I had more control with the feet left and right as opposed to the surfer stance,” he said.
Reminding me of when I rode a skateboard as a kid, I struggled at first with turns to the right. The shifting of weight to the backside of your feet to make the turn was not as easy as leaning into the turns to the left.
That led to one small problem, when I was unable to turn right quickly enough, I ran up on a small curb on the cart path behind the fifth green. Although it was an easy fix — I simply lifted the board off the curb — I did scratch its underside.
Sorry about that, pro.
The big hill
There was a little trepidation in the group as we teed off on the par-5 12th, which included a trek down a steep hill on the cart path that had two switchbacks turns.
“Are you going to guarantee I make it down alive?” Amberson asked Fraley.
But we all made the turns on the steep slope with no problems.
We were on the 14th fairway when Amberson, 55, motored up with a big smile on his face. “I’m so relaxed right now,” he said, giving many reasons why.
“You’re looking at scenery more and you’re on your own,” he said, “yet you still have the social aspect of golf, when you’re with the group on the tee box and on the greens.
“Then there’s just the fun factor,” he added.
Fraley, the snowboarder, worked the board harder than the rest of us, even getting up on two wheels on one of his turns on the back nine.
His biggest issue? Remembering why he was out there — to play golf.
“It was my first official round trying to concentrate and play golf,” he said. “It was a legitimate concern.” He did just fine, firing a 3-under-par 69 on the day.
“These things are fun — when you have any sort of slope or contours, any snowboarder, skateboarder or skier is going to want to carve,” Fraley said.
The fitness aspect was also a big hit with Fraley.
“You get the core workout, your arms and legs get pumped up a little bit, your blood’s pumping — and you just feel a little more alive out there.”
The boards were a big hit on the course. Several groups playing in the Wednesday Men’s Club game came over during the round to ask us how we were doing.
They were a little skeptical, especially the seniors, not quite sure what to make of this new way to get around the course. “Have you fallen off yet?” they asked.
We explained that it really was not a concern. When I lost it on a sidehill slope, I simply let off the accelerator trigger, then stepped off the board as it came to a stop.
I’m not sure if they bought it.
We also got stopped by a woman driving her car by the 12th tee, “What are you guys riding?” she asked. “I’ve never seen those things before.”
It will not be long before she sees more of them. Sunriver’s Caldera Links is expecting delivery of its first four boards this month, and Aspen Lakes has 12 more coming this summer. Tetherow, with its 30 boards, is hosting the first official GolfBoard Open at the end of this month.
Awbrey Glen has its four boards on a 30-day trial period, checking them out mechanically and getting feedback from members and guests.
After the fun we had with our round, I would guess the club will lease the boards permanently following the trial period.
“If everything is positive, we’ll roll right into the lease,” Fraley said.
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