Why Are Golf Carts So Expensive?

If you’re thinking of buying yourself your own personal golf cart you may be a little shocked at some of the prices. You can easily pay $10,000 and even more than $20,000 if you like adding lots of additional features.

We all know golf can become a very expensive game.

So why are golf carts so expensive?

Golf Carts Are Vehicles

A golf cart is designed to carry two people and their equipment around an 18 holes golf course. This probably means 5 or 6 miles of uneven terrain, stopping and starting regularly.

While it doesn’t have to do the sort of speeds a road-going vehicle might still have to have many of the mechanical capabilities.

For gas (petrol) powered carts they need an engine that can handle regularly driving very short distances. Electric carts need a motor and enough battery power to carry on for 18 holes without charge.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) considers golf carts to be vehicles. Indeed they refer to them as golf cars rather than carts or golf buggies. They consider a car to be self-propelled while a cart is not!

Golf Carts Are Profitable

At the majority of golf facilities, golf carts are considered to be profit makers.

Let’s say that you rent out your carts on average three times per week at $30 each time. Assuming you are in a part of the world that has year-round play then that will generate you around $4,500 per annum.

Even allowing for gas and maintenance, buying a $7000 cart should leave you in profit by the end of the second year.

With a typical gas (petrol) cart getting around 40mpg and a 5 or 6-gallon tank the cost of gas per round is probably around $1-$2 at most.

The manufacturers of golf cars know their customers will be making money from the cart so they can charge more for it.

Small Number Of Manufacturers Means A Monopoly

There are a relatively small number of manufacturers that produce golf carts or golf buggies. There are three major producers of golf carts: 

The manufacturers know that customers have few other options and are therefore able to set their prices accordingly.

In any market, a small number of players will produce bad outcomes for the consumer as there will be a lack of competition for sales.

Golf Carts Are A Niche Product

Historically golf carts have been a niche product with only one major purchaser – golf clubs. These days many more people are looking at purchasing their own golf cart. The manufacturers themselves are trying to enter new markets to increase their sales and profits. Even so, there are still only so many golf facilities and they remain the primary buyer.

Supply And Demand

One of the fundamental principles of economics is the law of supply and demand. If there is more demand for an item than there is the capacity for it to be produced then the price will tend to increase.

Since prices of golf aren’t dropping it would suggest that demand is sufficient to maintain the current pricing structure.

Golfers Are Considered Rich

Golf clubs and golfers are considered to be affluent. Therefore most companies will tend to inflate their invoices for any products and services that golf or golfers require. Of course, this is not confined solely to golf cart manufacturers but I’m sure that the prices are a bit higher than they might otherwise need to be.

I saw several businesses/tradesmen try to up their prices when I was treasurer at my club.

Golf cart fleet
Golf cart fleet

Upgrades And Modifications

All carts are designed to be modular and upgradable to a degree. This upgradability adds to the cost even if you are only buying the basic model. By adding on extra features you can quickly run up quite a hefty price tag.

Golf Carts Aren’t Only For Golf

Golf cart manufacturers are keen to find new markets for their products to improve their profitability.

In addition to obvious markets such as residents of gated communities, they are increasingly used at other facilities which cover a large area allowing staff to get around the premises.

Golf Carts Have To Be Reliable

Another reason why golf carts are expensive is they need to be as reliable as possible. A golf club can’t afford to have a large percentage of carts out of action at any one time that will affect their revenue and the ROI (return on investment) on the cart.

How Much Do Golf Carts Cost?

Here are the prices of one Yamaha dealer.

ModelPrice ($)
Standard Gas AFI6,795
QuieTech Gas7,395
Standard Electric6,895
PowerTech Fleet7,495
Example Yamaha cart prices (June 2022)

As you can see from the above list from one of the major manufacturers you are looking at around $7000 for their most basic cart. Naturally, that will soon rise if you need to add accessories for example to make the cart street legal.

Why Are Golf Carts So Expensive: Conclusion

In reality, golf carts are luxury items. This is the main reason why they are expensive. If you need to save on the initial outlay then you might want to consider buying a used golf cart. However, don’t forget that you might end up having to fork out more money on repairs and maintenance.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]

What is the point of a golf cart?

The point of a golf cart is to carry golfers and their equipment around the golf course.

They are particularly useful if the climate is not conducive to walking (high humidity or heat).

Some golf courses have long or difficult walks between holes so a cart is the only way to play golf in a reasonable period of time.

Is it worth it to have a golf cart?

If you have limited mobility or the course is particularly hilly then a golf cart could make the difference between being able to play or not. In that situation, a golf cart is most certainly worth it.

If you live in a gated community a golf cart might be a good idea also as it will allow you to drive straight from your house onto the course.

How much is a good quality golf cart?

A good quality golf cart will start from around $7000. Depending on your preference for petrol or electric and other modifications you could quite easily spend up to $20,000 or more!

You might be able to find a reasonable deal on a used cart for around $2000-$3000.

What is the life expectancy of a golf cart?

Yamaha carts, for example, have a standard four-year warranty and the batteries on electric carts have a five-year warranty. It is, therefore, reasonable to expect a minimum life expectancy of 4-5 years. 

As with any product, it will come down to personal usage. A cart used for only one round per week is likely to have a much longer lifespan than a car used 5-10 times per week.

Weather conditions will also doubtless take their toll. A cart is liable to last longer in a dry desert climate compared with the UK for example.

The final variable is the level of care and maintenance. If the car is personally owned and well maintained it is likely to have a longer lifespan than one that gets abused by users and receives no regular maintenance checks.

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