IT'S BEHIND YOU! And no, I'm not seven months too early in saying that...
Golfmagic was afforded the opportunity of being one of a select group of golf media to test out the new Stewart Golf X9 Follow that was launched to the world earlier this month. As it's name suggests, X9 Follow features an all-new Bluetooth powered electronics system that allows the machine to follow the golfer at just the touch of a button.
After taking the X9 Follow out for a test drive at Hersham Golf Club recently, my playing partner for the day in Stewart Golf CEO Mark Stewart asked me to sum up the product in three words. My reply: Creepy, cool, classy.
This electric trolley, which wouldn't look out of place in the next Paranormal Activity film, is quite frankly one of the coolest golf products I've seen before. Okay it might cost a bomb at £1500, but you really do get what you pay for here, especially when it comes to its remote control system. All boys like playing with toys, right? I know I do.
In a day and age where slow play is giving our beautiful game a bad rep, the X9 Follow allows you to play your shot and move on without wasting any time heading to and from the golf bag.
As you can see from the video above, when using the Follow option, simply attach the remote handset to the back of your belt buckle, ensuring the remote is on your back waistline, and press the single Follow button. The trolley will then follow at your walking pace behind you. Once you stop at the side of your golf ball, turn off the Follow button so the trolley remains stationary. Play the shot, press the Follow button back on, and off you go.
Once playing shots and pressing the Follow button while starting to walk, the X9 Follow remained a few paces behind me at all times, matching my walking speed. It was a little creepy at first. Although I could hear it, I kept turning around just to make sure it was doing as it was told. I think I would have gone pale had I turned around and it suddenly slammed on the breaks!
The trolley also holds its position going down hills with a patented electronics system that automatically varies and breaks the twin motors to alter both speed and direction.
It's just an all-round user-friendly design that allows the golfer to stop at their dimples and walk away again.
There is also the option of full remote functionality that existing Stewart Golf customers will no doubt be familiar with. This option allows you to keep the handset on the handle of the trolley if you want to walk with it, or you can place it in the palm of your hand while walking if you so wish, controlling the speed of the trolley while it's out in front you. It basically allows you to play Scalextric out there.
Click here to see Andy using the full remote function.
I gradually found it was wiser to use the full remote function over the new Follow option when approaching greens or in the deep rough and trees because it aided a little better control and positioning than when having the trolley directly behind you.
Stewart Golf’s engineers have been able to integrate two additional antennas under the distinctive X Series bodywork, so the only outward indication of change is a new badge and a blue LED that replaces the aerial.
Each X9 Follow comes with a handset already 'paired' to one another, meaning that you only have to turn them both on and they will connect automatically. Once the connection is made, it remains connected for the duration of your round. This means that signals are sent instantly and reliably, you won't be waiting for a connection every time.
Learning more about the trolley as I strolled effortlessly around the course with Stewart Golf's main man, taking in the sleek, cool looks of the product and playing around with all the new gadgets, I thought to myself the X9 Follow must have been in the pipeline for a while. So I said to Mark: "The X9 Follow must have been in the pipeline for a while."
"Absolutely," he replied. "Stewart Golf has worked extremely hard for more than three years to make the X9 Follow just as intuitive as the remote control models we’re famous for. The X9 Follow really takes relaxation to a whole new level of luxury.”
Mark hits the nail on the head when he talks about relaxation. Golf is meant to be a sport and leisure, after all. With the X9 Follow, you can not only help speed up the game but you can have ample conversation with your playing partner, take in the fresh air and sights of the course and just generally feel at ease with yourself and the game - okay, I was a little frustrated when the trolley followed me to the eighth tee after an untimely three-jab.
As with all Stewart Golf powered products, every X9 Follow is hand-made to order in the company’s Gloucestershire workshop, powered by a high-quality lithium battery, and comes with a full two-year warranty covering both the trolley and the battery. It's available in Pearlescent White, Metallic Black, Metallic Silver and British Racing Green. It also comes with a sturdy handle, neat scorecard holder with tee peg holders.
I also love the new V3 wheel design. The lateral tread pattern generating excellent levels of grip that allow the X9 Follow's electronics system to make very fine steering adjustments. When compared to the previous alloy wheel design, the V3 rear wheels have a flatter profile which increase stability dramatically. Additionally as a set of four wheels, weight has been reduced by 30% which increases efficiency and therefore battery life.
In terms of negatives, it's really only price and the fact it's not quite as compact as some other electric trolleys out there, in terms of folding it all down and getting it in the car. It's quite a big unit that means you'll need to push down the back seat or be fortunate enough to have a big boot.
Stewart Golf X9 Follow oozes class. It did from the moment Mark helped me set the product up in the car park. The new Follow feature is a little creepy but at the same time, it's cool. It's like taking the dog out for a walk, only it's carrying your clubs. I can't tell you how many players on the course were standing there with hands on hips thinking what is going on here.
Yes, it comes at a hefty price tag, particular against its rivals on the market, but if you can afford the price tag, want something with a user-friendly design, want to wow your playing partners with one of the coolest golfing gadgets out there and also want to help speed up the game, this is an electric trolley for you.
For more information visit www.stewartgolf.co.uk
X9 Follow retails for £1,499 and it's also sold alongside the existing X7 Lithium that retails for £999.