A new spin on golf: Westin Kierland in Scottsdale, Arizona adds Golf Bikes and real exercise as an option

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Westin Kierland Resort has a reputation for offering out of the ordinary: Air conditioning on the golf carts, bagpipes at sunset, virtual surfing (Flowrider), the best Scotch whiskey collection in the Southwest and Segways as an option instead of golf carts for players who like a little adventure with their golf.

Segways, of course, aren't for everybody, but the Westin Kierland Golf Club didn't stop there. Having seen the new Golf Bikes (www.thegolfbike.com) at the PGA Merchandise Show recently, the resort ordered up a couple of foursomes. By late April, they had two with more on the way.

Like the Segways, they leave very little footprint on the golf course because of their smaller, wide-profile tires, and they're also good for speed of play. But unlike the Segways, of course, golfers have to provide their own power. And that adds a new element to the sport.

Golf as a workout

Last weekend, I got to try the $800 Golf Bike, a custom-made bicycle with two saddle golf bags over the rear tire to distribute the weight evenly. The golf bags have pockets for balls, tees and other stuff you might want to carry.

As you might imagine, doing this in June in the Valley of the Sun has its challenges. So I gave it a try with Nancy Dickens, a former superintendent and now club manager pro at Troon-operated Kierland Golf Club. We were joined by Director of Golf Pete Treyve, who used one the resort's golf Segways to move him and his equipment around the course. The odd threesome drew lots of interest from other golfers.

We started at 7:30 a.m., but even then it was approaching 90 degrees. (But, hey, it's a dry heat.) By the time we were done around 11:30, it was triple digits, but we had survived, having downed about two gallons of water and sports drinks.

Treyve pointed out correctly that Segways aren't without effort as well. After all, you are standing during the entire round, and there is some physical exertion in balancing and steering the Segway, much like you'd have with a motorized trail bike.

But let's not kid ourselves: Segway vs. Golf Bike in the Arizona heat is no contest. There are 27 holes at Kierland Golf Club, the Acacia, Mesquite and Ironwood. Fortunately, we started with the hilliest, the Acacia nine. The design of this Scott Miller course is very friendly to golfers. Hit the ball left or right, and if it's not too wild, the slopes on the side will direct the ball to the fairway -- great for drives, not so great for bikes. Because getting back up the hills takes quite a bit of pedal power.

There are also some elevated tees, and even on the cart paths, climbing up to them on the bikes is a workout. Fortunately, these well-built machines have an excellent transmission, meaning it's easy to shift down to make those hills manageable.

At one point, Treyve asked us if pedaling the course affected our game. Both Dickens and I agreed that there were times we got on the tee box a little jelly-legged, but for the most part, we couldn't use it as an excuse for any bogeys on the course. I'm sure that after doing this a few times, leg fatigue would not be a factor.

Genesis of the Golf Bike

The Westin Kierland is one of the first golf facilities in the country to offer the Golf Bike, a new product developed by a company that already specialized in performance bikes. The first Golf Bike was delivered to Vinoy Renaissance Golf Club in St. Petersburg, Fla., back in March, not far from the Higher Ground Bicycle Co. in Tallahassee.

Todd May is the founder and CEO of the company. He developed the Golf Bike by combining his love for mountain biking and golf. Since he debuted it at the PGA Merchandise Show, he has received interest from all over the world, not only from clubs looking to add them to their fleet of golf course vehicles but from individual golfers who have expressed an interest in riding the bikes from their homes to the golf courses.

Of course, not all golf courses will let individual Golf Bike owners do that, but as they become more commonplace, that might change.

Undoubtedly these bikes will get some tweaks. I was surprised that they didn't come with water bottle holders, standard on most serious bikes. The kickstand also needs work, perhaps a wider platform to make the bikes more stable when you get off of them to hit a shot. They also need a receptacle for sand bottles, but these modifications shouldn't be difficult.

And riding these is a little different than your normal bike. In the short orientation before rounds, the staff advises golfers that they can't swing their legs over the seat, which is how most people get on a bike, because the clubs are in the way. You have to step into the bike over the low bar in the middle, which isn't very difficult. As for what to wear, Kierland Golf Club still requires golf attire but might be a little more liberal with shirts, for example. A pair of the new athletic golf shoes without aggressive spikes is the way to go.

Kierland Golf Club not stopping with Segways and Golf Bikes

I think this is a shot in the arm for golf; and by the way, Kierland Golf Club isn't stopping with Segways and Golf Bikes. In the next couple of weeks, the resort will be adding Golfboards as an option. Yep, these motorized giant skateboards, influenced by world-class surfer Laird Hamilton, will let you traverse the course like a snowboarder. Talk about combining two sports.

But back to the bikes: I especially like the idea of the Golf Bikes on flatter courses. It's good for pace of play, provides real exercise (golf with a motorized golf cart is almost useless in the exercise department), and it might just attract a new breed of golfer to the game. I'm just surprised nobody thought of this sooner.

Mike Bailey is a former Golf Advisor senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. He has also been on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
Default User Avatar
Commented on

I am an avid road biker and have noted that Electric bikes are the new rage with many tour groups. Has anyone modified an E-bike for golf ?

Default User Avatar
Commented on

As Todd May will find out, most courses will not compromise the revenue stream provided by the 4 wheel 2 passenger cart.

Default User Avatar
Commented on

And the courses could still keep that, as well open up a new revenue stream by offering golf bike rentals as an alternative. It might actually bring more people to the game, especially a younger crowd who might be more interested in golf if it included some exercise.

Related Links

'Mancation' on the brain? Scottsdale is a suitable option 12 months a year. David Weiss reports on his recent buddies trip that included rounds at Troon North, plus some top area restaurants.
4 Min Read
There's so much good public golf in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area it's hard to choose. But if you only had a long weekend, and money wasn't a factor, where would you play and where would you stay? It's not difficult to come up with a dream itinerary -- with a couple of optional choices -- that would fulfill any avid golfer's dream.
4 Min Read
More from the author
4 Min Read
September 14, 2023
Here's a look at the history of golf handicaps, how they are calculated, and where you can get one.
5 Min Read
April 6, 2023
Mike Bailey is no stranger to Hilton Head Island-Bluffton and ranks his favorite courses to play.
6 Min Read
May 28, 2019
PORT ARANSAS, Texas — Golf is being redefined at Palmilla Beach Resort and Golf Community on the Texas coast.
9 Min Read
May 24, 2019
University programs, both large and small, continue to invest in their golf facilities
5 Min Read
May 21, 2019
New owner Escalante Golf has made considerable investment since 2017.
8 Min Read
May 20, 2019
Not all Texas country clubs have had the steadfast history of Fort Worth's Colonial. But while some of these sites have been lost, others are now public and affordable.
5 Min Read
September 13, 2023
Puttr, a new technologically-advanced putting mat, could help you make more putts on the golf course.
4 Min Read
September 11, 2023
Which of the 58 golf resorts in the Caribbean do you dream of visiting for your next tropical winter golf getaway?
4 Min Read
August 29, 2023
Golf course architecture is an art form, but rigid notions surrounding the concept of par can hold it back.
5 Min Read
August 31, 2023
From a pre-shot routine to where you position your golf cart, there are many ways to save seconds and minutes, making a round of golf more enjoyable for everyone.
Now Reading
A new spin on golf: Westin Kierland in Scottsdale, Arizona adds Golf Bikes and real exercise as an option