There’s something irresistible about driving a golf cart. Why are they so much fun?
I’ve taken Ava golfing a few times and she seemed to think the golf part was ok, but she really had fun when I let her drive the cart.
Recently we saw a family in our neighborhood driving a golf cart and it implanted the idea in Ava’s mind that our family should get a golf cart. I looked on Craigslist, but a decent used cart was $3k and up. That felt a bit expensive for a toy, as cool as it may be.
She kept asking, so I told her to start checking Craigslist herself and if she found a working golf cart for $1,000 or less, we would buy it.
Last month, on a Saturday morning when Sarah was out of town, Ava called me over to her laptop. “Dad, look. I found a golf cart for $1,000. Can we get it?”
The cart looked nice, perhaps a little too nice for that price. I told her about Craigslist scams and tried to lower her expectations. Then we emailed the seller.
He replied back and said someone had contacted him right before us, but if that buyer fell through, it would be ours.
When I called him to ask some questions and listen for any red flags, I learned that the batteries were due to be replaced soon, so the cart would slow to a crawl on steep hills. For this price, we could live with that.
As we waited to hear back from the seller, we had some logistics to figure out.
- How would we get it to our house?
- A friendly neighbor with a trailer.
- Will it fit into our shed?
- Where are we going to park it?
- Next to the shed, with a cover we can order on Amazon.
Finally, we heard back that the golf cart would be ours if we wanted it. Ava was so excited.
When she got behind the wheel and we went out for our first ride, you couldn’t wipe the smile off her face if you tried. “Dad, I just love driving! This is so much fun!”
While this purchase was made purely for joy, it’s had some practical benefits that I wouldn’t have considered.
Through these golf cart rides, Ava has basically started driver’s ed. at age 9. She’s learning how far to pull up at an intersection, how sharp to take a turn, how quickly to accelerate and brake, and that your right foot is used for both the gas and the brake (this fact was surprising to Ava).
And I’m learning just as much about how to be a good driving instructor. Teaching someone to drive is almost like teaching someone to walk. We’re so used to doing it that it feels unnatural to be with a driver who lacks our experience and confidence. We simply have to be patient while they learn.
Of course, there’s the knowledge transfer – safety lessons and coaching on technique, but the hard part is that our brains need to wire the neural connections necessary for these new motor skills and that only comes through repetition.
I’m grateful to be building this foundation with Ava of learning to drive in a fun, low-stakes setting, at an age where playfulness is prioritized. Perhaps this will make learning to drive a car less stressful for the both of us when it’s time to experience that teenage rite of passage.
PS. I hope you enjoyed that motor skills pun as much as I did.