Off-Road Golf Carts: A Complete Guide to Changing your Course
Go Beyond the Greens!
When you think of a golf cart, it’s likely in its primary function of carrying people and clubs around the manicured fairways of your local golf club. What if we told you that with just a few modifications, you could have that exact leisure vehicle capable of traveling through mud and debris, over rocks and rough terrain, and hauling materials to assist with day-to-day chores?
It’s true! Golf carts are extremely versatile and used for dozens of applications and environments outside the golf course. Keep scrolling, and we’ll dive into some of our favorite uses for off-road golf carts.
And we’re not stopping there. We’re going to cover how to go about transforming your stock EZGO, Club Car, or Yamaha golf cart into an off-road machine, the difficulty and cost of doing the modifications, and of course, our recommended Golf Cart Stuff™ products to make the dream a mud-bogging, equipment-hauling, workload-lightening reality.
Where to begin…
A quick google search for off-road golf carts will overwhelm you with options and ideas, and you’ll quickly fall down a rabbit hole of incredibly creative people who have done amazing things with such a simple base vehicle.
So, where do you start?
First, we’ll explore some popular uses of golf carts modified for off-road applications. Once you determine what activities/environments you’ll use your cart for the most, we’ll help you narrow down the perfect accessories to achieve the right balance of functionality and aesthetics.
Keep in mind this is nowhere near an extensive list of what you can do with a golf cart. Instead, consider this your inspiration guide, and let your imagination run wild. We’ve seen some incredibly creative ideas on the internet… stick around until the end, and we’ll share some of our favorite unique off-road carts at the end of this article.
Hunting & Fishing
The top emerging use for off-road golf carts is for hunting and fishing purposes. Golf carts can fit in spaces too tight for a UTV/ATV and have more storage and seating capacity. The most significant factor leading avid hunters towards golf carts, as opposed to other vehicles, is their stealthy approach. An electric golf cart is essentially silent, ensuring you won’t disrupt any unsuspecting wildlife, and you won’t be exhausted by first light from the long walk back to your deer stand. Don't forget to pick up a Golf Cart Stuff™ Universal Gun Rack (pictured below) to keep you and your firearm safe while en route to your most coveted honey hole.
Farming / Homesteading
There’s no question that farmers are some of the hardest working people on this planet. There’s also no doubt they can use all the help they can get. In addition to the farmers that raise the food we get every day at the grocery store, recent years have shown a resurgence of folks who wish to become more self-sustaining by taking responsibility for growing their own food, raising livestock, maintaining their own farm equipment, all while juggling the day-to-day responsibilities of family and home ownership. Golf carts modified for off-road applications can carry tools, people, and smaller animals all over your homestead and haul trailers for harvest time!
Check out the below video from Anne of all Trades as she explains why her golf cart is the most useful tool on her farm!
Trail Riding / Camping
Similar to hunting, with the addition of just a few accessories, you can take your golf cart to places you never thought it would be capable. Climbing steep hills, crossing through mud and small streams, and more are entirely achievable tasks for a golf cart tricked out with the right aftermarket accessories.
Camping is an excellent environment for an off-road golf cart as it’s essentially all unpaved ground and, depending on the style of camping you prefer, usually on large plots of land, and possibly a long distance from the bath houses or recreational areas. If you’ve ever had a toddler (or yourself) with a bathroom emergency, you already know where we’re coming from. A golf cart will get you wherever you need to go in a jiffy!
Choosing your Cart
Now that you have a sense of some of the more common off-road capabilities of a golf cart, it’s time to start planning your build.
The first step in your journey to the ultimate off-road golf cart buggy must begin with the great debate… Gas or Electric. We’ve found that the standard assumption is that gas golf carts are more heavy-duty and robust. Here’s the fact- besides their drivetrain (gas or electric), both carts are identical. As with anything, there are pros and cons, and we’ll cover the main points here. But ultimately, the intended use for your cart will determine which power option will work best for your needs.
Gas Golf Carts
The most significant factor leading people to gas-powered golf carts is that there is essentially no downtime when it runs out of fuel. For example, if you use your golf cart for farm/homestead chores, having your batteries run out of charge in the middle of the workday would be most inconvenient. Where a gas-powered cart can be refueled in moments and be ready to get back to work, a complete set of batteries can take anywhere from 4 to 12 hours to recharge. Gas-powered golf carts also have a fuel gauge to keep the driver aware of the remaining power level; gauges for battery level are far less standard and typically will not come supplied with the batteries. Gas-powered golf carts have a standard combustion engine and run on regular fuel, just like your daily driver vehicle, and produce emissions and fumes similarly. These carts will also require regular maintenance, such as oil changes, spark plugs, and belts. Just like other gas-powered vehicles, gas golf carts are relatively noisy. While this may not be an issue if you’re doing tasks around your property or cruising around town, if you’re trying to sneak deep into the woods to find that monster buck you’ve been watching on the trail camera all summer, you surely don’t want to announce your approach and scare him off.
Electric Golf Carts
If your goal is to be equally stealthy and eco-friendly, an electric golf cart may be just the choice for you! These models travel silently, with no emissions, and modern 48v electric carts can boast the same hauling power and travel speed as their gas-powered alternatives. Electric carts have fewer components to maintain or cause issues, which typically results in a longer lifespan for the vehicle. If you care for your golf cart properly, lead-acid batteries could last you 6-10 years, and lithium batteries can last 20-30 years – read that again… two to three decades! For a more in-depth, technical overview of the ins and outs of batteries, check out our previous blog post, Golf Cart Battery Guide.
The fun part – Let’s Build!
Now we’ll get to the exciting part: actually adding the accessories to your stock model golf cart. As we mentioned, it’s easy to go overboard and get lost in the world of aftermarket accessories, but we’ve narrowed down the must-haves to get your golf cart off-road ready!
A suspension lift kit is the first, and most important accessory you’ll want to add to ensure your golf cart can perform adequately off-road. Lift kits do just that, lift the vehicle 3-6 inches higher off the ground to assist in navigating over rough terrain, brush, and debris. A lift kit will be required for the following absolute must-have… off-road wheels and tires.
Off-Road Wheels & Tires
Standard golf cart tires are intended to navigate and protect delicate golf course landscaping, meaning these tires have minimal tread and very little ability to traverse challenging environments. In addition to the minimal tread, these tires are very small in diameter- 18” as opposed to something like the Golf Cart Stuff™ GTW Nomad, sitting high at 23”, and full of rugged tread prepared for the most demanding conditions, there’s not much these tires won’t cruise through.
Your stock leaf springs may not only be old and worn out, but they are not equipped to handle the addition of the new lift kit and larger wheels and tires you’ve just decided to add to your cart. While you’ve got the cart unassembled to install the above, you should absolutely add leaf springs to your list of must-upgrade accessories.
Golf Cart Stuff™ stocks a superior line of Steeleng® Brush Guards to add an extra layer of protection to your golf cart, shielding it from small branches, twigs, tall grass, and other debris. In addition, they make your golf cart look more demanding and rugged.
A golf cart is a significant investment, and it’s essential to protect that investment. By installing a brush guard, you can continue to enjoy all the benefits of your golf cart while keeping it clean and damage-free for years to come.
In our opinion, these should really be called Fender Flairsbecause they add such a unique look and style to your golf cart. They also provide an added layer of protection from dirt, rocks, or debris kicked up from the driving surface. The best part? Fender Flares are easy to install!
As we said from the beginning, it can be easy to get carried away when adding accessories to your golf cart. Now that we've covered the must-haves for your upgraded cart, let's look at a few must-consider items (all available in our shop)!
Difficulty and Cost
Depending on your mechanical expertise and available tools, most golf cart modifications can be done without the hiring of a professional mechanic. The most difficult upgrades to carry out on your own will be the suspension lift kit and the rear leaf springs, but even those can be done yourself if you have the proper equipment.
We’ve crunched the numbers to get you the best estimate possible for turning your standard golf cart into an off-road machine. If you’re willing to put in a little sweat equity and not rely on a mechanic, you can get into all the above-suggested accessories for around $1,000 - $1,600. If you plan to hire some of the labor out, you should expect to pay from $75-$150+ per hour to a dealer or other shop.
Now get out and explore!
That's all we've got for you today. Thank you for sticking around until the end. We hope that we’ve provided you with some helpful insight into how much more use you can get out of your golf cart by converting it to be off-road capable with just a few simple accessories.
We would love to see what off-road modifications you’ve made to your golf cart! Leave us a question or comment belowand tag us in your social media posts, and you could be featured in an upcoming customer spotlight!
As promised, here are a few of our favorite off-road modified golf carts from across the internet: