Here it comes: a virus-dodging golf tricycle

Tadhole - golf tricycleTadhole - golf tricycle
Tadhole - golf tricycleTadhole - golf tricycle

Photo caption: Former Protea cricketers Henry Davids (front) and David Wiese (middle) along with Casper Mostert, head superintendent at Copperleaf (back), recently played a round of golf on the Tadhole at the Copperleaf Golf Estate in Centurion. Their reaction? “Most fun we’ve ever had on a golf course!” 

Here it comes: a virus-dodging golf tricycle!

They are going to become a common sight on golf courses all over the world: one-man golf carts which criss-cross over the fairways. The first of these South African designed tricycles, which are regarded as just what the doctor ordered to dodge the Corona virus, will soon be released on golf courses in Gauteng. 

Named Tadhole, the locally-designed cart was built in a garage by a mechanical engineer of Centurion, Dr Barend Botha, and his son, Barend Jr, a medical student. The Tadhole is a nimble, battery-driven e-bike which can accelerate to 40 km/h. Since it is a one-man cart, it enables golfers to avoid close contact: unlike the double carts which have been in use for the past sixty, seventy years. 

Ironically, the Tadhole was not inspired by the Corona virus. “My son and I started with the design about two years ago and patented it locally and internationally more than a year ago. It is pure coincidence that the cart is ready for the market at the most perfect time thinkable,” says Dr Botha. 

So, what inspired the idea?  “Two years ago, Barend Jr asked me to assist him with the building of a cart for the University of Pretoria’s rag week. It was then that the idea of a one-seater golf cart took root.”

In the next few months, Barend Sr started to research the requirements for such a cart. “The goal was to keep the design as simple as possible. It had to be easy to handle, reliable, light and affordable. We consequently decided to base the design on the e-bike concept, which is a fairly well-established technology, yet has a lot of potential for further development.”

To have a ride on one of these bikes, is pure fun. The steering mechanism has two vertical handles and the accelerator is handled with one’s thumb, similar to that of a four-wheel motorbike.  A double A-frame suspension and ergonomically-designed seat ensure a comfortable and enjoyable ride. The car also has a reverse gear and, of course, a rack behind the seat for a golf bag. 

Test drives with the prototype were a huge success. “Even on a soaking wet course, the cart left no trace. Barend also played eighteen holes on the Tadhole and although the maximum speed allowed on golf courses is 25 km/h, he completed  the round in 21/2 hours as apposed to the usual four to five hours. This will obviously not be possible in competition golf, where golfers have to wait for the players in front of them to play their shots, but the cart does help to speed up play,” says Barend Sr.

The first bikes have recently been placed at the Copperleaf Gholf Club in Centurion, which is an Ernie Els course. The agreement is that the income will be shared between the club and the manufacturers. How do  Barend and Barend (B&B) know if the carts have been used?  A built-in GPS-system, of course!

David Roodt, Director of Golf at Copperleaf, speaks in glowing terms of the Tadhole.  “I have never had so much fun on a golf course!  In my almost thirty years of playing golf I can comfortably say this is the most innovative product I have seen.  Not only is the Tadhole a lot of fun: It is also exremely efficient, safe and comfortable.”

When manufacturing is in full swing, the long-term vision is to market the Tadhole internationally. The cart fits on a standard single cab bakkie or a double cab with its tail-gate open. The Bothas have, however, already started working on a concept which will enable one to mount the Tadhole, which weighs just over 50 kg, on a custom-made rack behind a vehicle.  

Is Barend Botha South Africa’s next Elon Musk? “Not even in my dreams,” he laughs, “but I am extremely proud of my brain child and sincerely hope it will become a new craze.”

Tadhole - golf tricycle