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Par for the course

Par for the course

Do you like to play golf? If so, you may soon have an advantage driving on California roads.

That's because some automakers are planning to respond to that state's strict rules for zero-emission vehicles by building battery-powered golf-cart lookalikes for use there. Ford says it will do just that, and DaimlerChrysler could do the same. (See story on page 44.)

Golf carts on the roadways! The safety implications alone are so enormous we can only assume they are kidding. But, if Ford and DaimlerChrysler are serious, perhaps they have a higher purpose in mind. Like boosting the slowing economy. They may have a point. Think of the economic implications:

  • Cosmetics sales. Hundreds-maybe thousands-of vehicles could be putt putting down the street with the drivers hanging one leg out the door, much as they would on a golf course. Suntan-lotion companies could reap a windfall as people seek to protect their pale calves, knees, and thighs from being burned.

  • Fashion revolution. Haberdashers will get rich as more drivers will want baseball and other kinds of hats and two-tone shoes for the road as well as the links. Singer Michael Jackson will make a comeback, perhaps suing for trademark infringement as drivers tour around wearing just one glove.

  • New sports franchise. Polo will get a boost as drivers, subconsciously swinging golf clubs out the door as they do on the course, gain a new appreciation for the sport.

If road-worthy golf carts are really the next big thing, we should give a nod to those who saw the trend coming years ago. Marketers at Volkswagen come to mind, with their decision to replace the Rabbit with the Golf. And then there's CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams), the racing consortium that competes with Indy. How clever of them to come up with that name!

The only miscalculation that I can see would be on the part of people who think golf carts on roadways, with all the association they have for vacationing, will make for more relaxed and safer drivers. Have you ever seen a relaxed golfer?

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