What the calculator did to the adding machine, push and riding carts did to the caddie—didn't render them obsolete so much as eclipse them with a greater all-around efficiency. Our top pushcart is easy to unfold and has an unbeatable sleek design for storing in your car. In carts, our choice for the electric category has built-in connectivity and a smooth ride, and our gas winner gets around the course at a noise level eerily close to that of an electric cart.
More and more, we're seeing the best college players rolling their bags instead of carrying them, primarily because pushcarts have evolved into cool, performance-driven pieces of equipment. What makes for a good pushcart? It has to be easy to maneuver around the course and have enough storage for things like your water bottle, snacks, sweater, range finder and umbrella. Size is crucial as well. The cart has to take up as little space in the trunk as possible. Taking all of this into consideration, we like the Big Max Blade Quattro because it takes only two clicks to assemble, folds down smoothly and has an unbeatably sleek design (forget the trunk, you could store it in your locker) but still has space for all your gear on the course.
For those not wishing to walk, a good riding cart should be as reliable as a regular tee time. In the electric category, Club Car's Precedent i3 repeats as our choice. Its built-in connectivity (GPS, electronic scoring, etc.) is nearly a must in this age of information and data gathering, and it enhances rather than detracts from your game. The Precedent i3 also gets all the little things right: well-positioned holders for divot mix and a windshield that's easy to put up or take down. The self-compensating, double-reduction helical rack-and-pinion system means you won't wrestle with the steering wheel, either.
When deciding on a riding cart, the first question is not brand name, but propulsion: gas or electric? For years, electric was a popular choice because of gas' shortcomings—gas carts smelled and sounded like you were riding around on your lawn mower, complete with the occasional rude backfire. Yamaha's Drive2 QuieTech EFI has addressed this with a gas cart that produces a noise level remarkably close to that of an electric cart (just a few decibels' difference). Coupled with the first independent rear suspension on a golf cart, it produces a quiet, smooth ride. Plus, at 45 miles to the gallon, there's no worry whether the cart will make it through that second 18 of the day. It's environmentally friendly as well, with less hydrocarbon emissions than its competitors. Efficient, indeed.
Big Max Blade Quattro, $300
Club Car Precedent i3 (electric)
Yamaha Drive2 QuieTech EFI (gas)