Get your kid a golf cart when she turns 16

U.S. President Obama waves on a golf cart while sitting with Mike Ramos after playing golf at the Mid-Pacific Country Club on Dec. 28, 2010 in Kailua, Hi.

It can be worth it to drive your golf cart off the green. And, around the country, at local council meetings from South Dakota to Kentucky to Wisconsin, new regulations making it legal to do just that are being proposed.

Ten years ago, the local high school in Peachtree City, Georgia had to build a special parking lot with hundreds of new spots, tecause the teenagers there drive golf carts.

“They definitely get out and use them," says Sharon Lee, with Peachtree City Golf Cars. She says for parents, the carts make good financial sense. “You’re not paying near the insurance that you do when you have a teenager,” she says. And when you think about the cost of gas, notes Lee, it's hard for drivers to miss the potential savings of driving an electric cart,  "when you have an SUV that gets nine miles to the inch."

Peachtree has 90 miles of special paths for the carts, and Georgia doesn’t require them to be insured. Currently, there are ten thousand golf carts registered in Peachtree.

The city has been a trendsetter, but now, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safeway, all but four states allow golf carts to be driven on some public roads.

Brandon Ruiz, an industry analyst at IBIS World, says part of their popularity can be chalked up to a certain...greying population.  “As the baby boomer generation continues to get older, you're more likely to see them use golf carts to get from point A to point B,” he says.

The average cost of an electric cart, says Ruiz, is $3,500 dollars. And he says sales are expected to hit almost 700 million dollars this year.

About the author

Sally Herships is a regular contributor to Marketplace.

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