Evolution of The Golf Cart / Trolley — Big Max at 25
I was intrigued by a timeline of the evolution of the golf cart / trolley that manufacturer Big Max sent out in celebration of the company’s 25th Anniversary.
When I (and probably many of you) started playing golf, the two wheeled pull cart was the norm for walkers who did not want to carry their bags. The two wheel carts were awkward and most didn’t properly hold the bags in place — especially if it was a stand bag. I carried a couple of bungee cords in my bag to secure it.
The carts pulled the arm back in what was usually an awkward position. I often turned it around and pushed, keeping the foot of the pull cart off the ground.
The two wheelers also tended to be unstable. Pulling them parallel to a slope was an invitation to a tipping. Shifting bags also caused them to tip (thus the need for bungee cords).
A final complaint about the original pull carts: they were either flimsy, or elephantine. I eventually bought my own because the ones I found at the course were of the flimsy sort and usually broken.
The first three wheeled carts I saw were from Sun Mountain, and I immediately bought one. I’ve still got the first one I purchased.
Not terribly long after, my club bought a bunch of three wheelers from Bag Boy. Those looked for all the world like baby buggies.
Pushing, rather than pulling, the cart was a game changer. It was much easier on the shoulders, and the push carts were much more stable.
Bix Max, as it turns out, was at the forefront of the three wheeled push cart revolution. Big Max founder Thomas Reiter explains:
“I had set up my company, Golftech, in 1988 while I was studying at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. We mainly imported U.S. and U.K. products that were difficult to get in Europe and became quite successful,” comments Thomas. “In 1994 we decided to make our own pull carts as there was a clear gap in the European market. My son Max had just been born so I named the company after him – BIG MAX.”
“The initial models, Basic and Mid-Max sold well, but it was while I was playing around with an old 2 wheel pull cart that the business changed forever. I figured that it would be less stressful on the body to push the cart and that you could direct it more easily with it in front of you. So I fixed an extra wheel to the front of one of our competitors models and tried it out.”
The first BIG MAX 3 wheel cart – the BM 500 – went into production in 1997 and immediately changed the way that the Austrian and German market thought about push carts. But it was in the year 2000 that BIG MAX became the dominating force in the market.
The BM 500 dates to 1997, and the Sun Mountain Speed Cart to 1999. Big Max was therefore likely first to the gate ( That’s not to say that Sun Mountain copied the idea. As with many things, it is possible (probable?) that the idea for a three wheeled cart emerged from multiple sources in the same relative time.
The early carts were large, and even folded occupied quite a bit of space. Depending on the manufacturer and model, they also tended to be either sturdily built and heavy, or lightweight and flimsy.
Newer models — from a wide variety of manufacturers — have made vast improvements on the quality, weight and fold-size. At this point, the pinnacle of design just might be the Big Max Blade IP, which you can see in photos below. Weighing just 14 pounds (I had a cat that weighted 14 pounds), it folds up into a package that is just slightly taller than twos stacked boxes of golf balls. (You can buy a Big Max Blade IP on Amazon)
What’s next in the evolution of the golf cart/trolley just might be powered models? There are several manufacturers out there, but as with the early push cart models, the powered carts tend to be bulky, heavy, and not quite ready for prime time.
I’m hoping Big Max is putting their design chops to work on a powered “push” cart. It would be the next best thing to having a caddy.