While trying to solve one problem, Won ended up creating more…
If you are not already aware, Won loves to play golf. He’s a member of the Penha Longa Golf Club, which I wrote about last November in a post called “Tee Time“. He typically plays twice a week, but never on weekends; twice a week in deference to me (I don’t want to be by myself every day and we have Portugal to explore, after all) and never on the weekends when the courses are much busier.
By nature, Won is a practical individual and sees golf not only as enjoyment – enjoyment, that is, when he plays well – but also as a way to stay fit. He walks instead of riding in a golf cart. For anyone who does not play golf, walking a golf course takes roughly 15,000 steps; sometimes less if you play very well and sometimes a lot more if you don’t (you can really rack up those steps looking for wayward golf balls).
Unfortunately, lugging a heavy bag of clubs around on your back for 18 holes isn’t very much fun, especially in the hot sun. Even before we left the US, Won solved that problem two ways, 1) he invested in a light-weight golf bag designed for walking, and 2) he learned to play with fewer clubs, further lightening the load. Since this was a good solution in the U,S and he knew that he would most likely continue to walk once he got to Portugal so it was the only bag he brought with him.
However, a new problem presented itself once he became of a member of Penha Longa…it is a very hilly course. Those 15,000 steps were feeling more like 150,000 by the end of each game.
Solution #1 only partially addressed the situation…
As a way to try and address the hilly course problem, late last year, Won decided to invest in a sturdy push cart to hold his bag and clubs. The push cart made walking the course much easier and even came with a little net-style bag attached to the frame to hold his snacks. Unfortunately, those pesky hills remained a challenge because they still required a fair bit of effort to push the cart up each hill.
[I have to stop and tell you a funny story. Won always brings a large bottle of water, banana, and granola bar with him when he plays. This way he stays hydrated and energized. Not too long ago, we were out of granola bars. Won said it wouldn’t be a problem; he would just take two bananas with him that day. Apparently, while he was pushing the cart up one of those steep hills, both bananas fell out of the little net on the cart and he ended up stepping on them both (they were attached at the top), squishing and perforating them beyond consumption due to the spikes on his golf shoes!! It was so tragic and funny at the same time to see the look on his face as he was telling me this. Poor Won! He was so hungry when he got home!]
Back to the topic at hand…as mentioned earlier, the push cart was a good solution for those hills, but only when Won remembers to set the brake. 🙄
Solution #2 helped, but didn’t fix the problem…
The trolley was helpful, but by the time he would get to the 16th, which is a par 4, level 1 hole (i.e. the most difficult on the course), he would be tiring out and that’s when his game would really suffer. We have had countless conversations about how he was doing really well on the front nine only to have his game fall apart on the back nine, especially on the 16th hole, which is very steep. This was a vexing situation. How could he still walk, but make it easier to get up those hills? [By the way, Penha Longa does not provide caddies to assist the golfers so that solution was off the table and before anyone makes a cheeky suggestion that I become Won’s caddy…not a chance!]
For the last several months, Won has been playing quite regularly with a few guys. One of them, Chris, who happens to be British, also likes to walk. Chris uses an electric trolley (the British word for cart). Won started to develop trolley-envy. He would come home and tell me how Chris could just push a button and the trolley would trundle along the fairways on its own, even up those challenging hills. I know Won was conflicted. He definitely wanted to switch to an electric trolley, but felt that it would be wasteful since his push cart was still functional and in good shape (despite a few tumbles down the fairway).
Regardless, I could tell he really wanted one.
During one of our many post-game debriefs, which included much lamenting about the notorious 16th hole, I asked him how much one of these magical devices cost. I thought it would worth 200€ to give him a boost on the golf course. Won immediately dove into researching the various brands and educating himself on the bells and whistles that come with them.
Turns out, my assumption about the price was waaaay off!! These things are expensive!! On the low end of the spectrum you can get a basic model for around 350€ that essentially comes with three wheels, a frame, a few straps, and is powered by the equivalent of four AA batteries. At the other end is the “Rolls Royce” of electric trolleys. One of those will set you back more than 1000€! That model comes with a 36-hole lithium battery, full color display screen, USB charging port, integrated technology, improved downhill control, premium metallic frame color and a personal coach who whispers how good you are in your ear just before you tee off.
Good old Amazon (Germany) to the rescue! Won found a good option and placed an order. His new Powakaddy Electric Trolley arrived ahead of schedule last week. Won was super excited to get it out on the course and see what this baby could do!
Solution #3 didn’t quite go exactly to plan…
I breathlessly waited for Won to return home from his first outing to tell me that all his problems were solved and he had conquered Hole #16 successfully!!
Apparently, not so much.
The first problem was that he didn’t fully charge the battery before taking it out. In his defense, he didn’t know that it wasn’t fully charged. It died on the 16th hole!!! Can you believe it? He also learned that these machines are designed to hold a regular sized golf bag, which presented two new problems for Won. The first was that the straps that hold the bag to the frame are not adjustable and too big for his small walking bag. This meant it kept falling off the frame. He and his buddies attempted several times to secure the bag applying “McGyver-style” methods with limited success. The small bag created yet another problem. The machine is designed to use the weight of a full-sized golf bag to keep it in place and upright.
Won’s bag, with fewer clubs no less, can’t do this. Here is what happens when the trolley hits any type of uneven ground (i.e. tree roots, the cart path edge), or the slightest incline…
Knowing the bottom of the bag wasn’t heavy enough to keep it in place, he cleverly turned his clubs upside down, thought about adding rocks to the bottom of the bag (which he ultimately didn’t do), and even turned it over so the storage compartment faced the ground, in an attempt to resolve the weight distribution problem. None of that worked successfully.
If the weight distribution problem wasn’t enough of a challenge, he’s still trying to figure out the optimal speed for his walking pace. The range of speed options on his trolley go from Level One (Snail) to Level Ten (Usain Bolt). I think ten might be a tad too fast…
Solution #4 is on its way…
So, guess what? Two days ago Won finally broke down and ordered a new, regular-sized golf bag. You know what is supremely ironic about this? He has two of those in storage in New Jersey!! I can see a new business opportunity on the horizon…Won’s Gently-Used Golf Equipment. 🙄
You can see how, in an attempt to solve one problem, Won inadvertently created several more. It’s been a real ordeal for poor Won, but he’s faced it all with a good sense of humor and a can-do attitude. As for me? I couldn’t keep a straight face through all his trials and tribulations! Every time he came home and described another problem, I would dissolve into fits of laughter. At this point, though, I’m truly hopeful, for his sake, that once his latest acquisition is delivered, stories about Hole 16 will become a thing of the past. At least I can hope, right?!
In other news, my family begins arriving today. Yippee!! Let the frivolity and shenanigan’s begin! As a result, I will not have time to write next week, which means I will not be posting next Friday. However, I will be back at it the following week after they return to the US. Until then, please stay safe, stay healthy, and stay in touch.
From Portugal with love,