THERE is no question that the QOD electric golf buggy (trolley) ticks all the boxes when it comes to its obvious major selling points: very compact, practical design, simple to set up and pack away, easy to use, reliable.
But how well does it perform out in the wild? Particularly when the going gets tough?
We’re writing this QOD electric buggy review after using the unit for some six weeks, including one memorable week on the road when we played five different courses in six days, and also with the benefit of (by chance) playing a few rounds with some long time QOD owners.
As we said in our “First Impressions” story a while back, the QOD is a little different looking than many of its competitors but the quirky styling does seem to please many an eye.
“That’s a sexy looking thing!”
As we previously recounted, we were somewhat surprised when on one of our first outings with the QOD we were setting it up in our local golf club carpark when a passing golfer enthusiastically commented: “That’s a sexy looking thing!” We’ve since gleaned the golfer in question owned a couple of bicycle shops in his prime, so maybe he has a “special” thing for small machines with wheels? In any case there have been a number of other unsolicited positive comments about the QOD looks and styling since.
QOD electric golf buggy background
The “QOD” stands for Quality Of Design and the man behind all that is Collin Hiss, the founder of the Australian company that designs, manufactures and markets them.
Talking to Collin it is apparent just how much thought, love and passion has gone into the development of his “baby”. His original mission was to develop a high quality, easy to use buggy and make it as compact as possible – so for instance a husband and wife golfing couple could easily fit all their clubs plus two buggies and travel luggage in one car boot for a weekend away (it also fits into most standard golf club lockers).
Another wise golfing notion from Collin is that you could get a golf buggy with more bells and whistles than you would ever use but what you really want to concentrate on out on course is your golf game, not fussing about what your buggy is up to.
We’ve distilled that down to: what you really need from a golf buggy is for it to be a “seamless” part of your golf game. To play great golf – or just to enjoy golf – you need to get into a relaxed rhythm. If your buggy can get you from point A to point B seamlessly, it has to be a big help.
So given its background, when the QOD first arrived we weren’t all that surprised the whole thing fitted into such relatively small packaging. The QOD is designed to be as compact as possible and to stay in one piece as it is unfolded for use and then packed away at the end of the day. There is no messing around taking wheels, attachments or accessories off. The unfolding process is quite simple and once you get the hang of it, you can have it set up, your golf bag attached, and be on you way in a couple of minutes.
That process includes inserting the especially QOD developed “Mini Miser” lithium battery, which really did surprise us with its tiny size when it arrived The Mini Miser weighs just 2.5 kgs, can literally be picked up with one finger and, as can be seen by the photo below, actually fits into the lid of a standard size golf ball box.
The Mini Miser battery is avowed to be good for 36 holes in a day and recharges overnight in under four hours. We’ve played some long competition rounds, left the QOD on afterwards on purpose whilst we’ve been in the clubhouse discussing important issues (for ages), and have never been on less than full green status.
As anyone who has owned an electric golf buggy for a while knows, carrying the battery back and forth to wherever it usually recharged is often the biggest hassle, especially if you had/have one of the old heavy gel batteries. Carrying and lifting the Mini Miser in comparison is a breeze (actually enjoyable if you’re perverse enough) especially, if like us you had it while staying in a hotel for a week and had a long walk between carpark and hotel room after every round.
Some Highlighted QOD Features
- Digital display with variable speed control
- 3 option distance control
- USB support for a GPS or mobile device
- Whisper-quiet 180-watt motor
- 25-to-1 gear reducer ensures constant speed up hills
- Fixed wheel option ensures set speed maintained down inclines
- Strong, long lasting Nylon wheels
- Traditional flotation rubber tyres
- Battery lasts up to ten times longer than a standard golf battery
- 75% lighter and 1/3 the size of a standard lead-acid golf buggy battery
- Fully charges from empty in under four hours
Operating the QOD
An area of prime importance with an electric golf buggy of course is the interface between man and machine and here again the QOD is highly commendable.
There’s a full digital display with an on/off button, control of the 9 speed motor by either a plus or minus button or a very sensitive speed control dial (potentiometer), a pause/resume button and automatic 10, 20 and 30 second buttons.
We seem to have evolved to mostly using the speed control dial, which has a very reassuring little “click” to let you know when it is on or off (very annoying if you have an electric buggy that suddenly starts veering toward a creek after you let it go because it wasn’t fully turned off).
So we have just mainly been using the speed dial to coordinate the QOD speed with our normal fairway walking pace. Whenever we check the digital display we have usually naturally set to speed to 4. We could of course use the Plus (+) button to set the speed at 4 from the outset – and then just the Pause/Resume button to maintain that level. (This also means we usually have 5 more speed levels available to increase speed, get up steep hills, or negotiate other course obstacles like long grass.
The QOD comes with a USB charging port and there are other accessories/options including smart phone holder, drinks holder, scorecard holder, umbrella holder, wet weather cover etc.
The QOD In The Wild
After the first couple of rounds with the QOD we were pretty sure we were on to a good thing but were disturbed when we realised we’d signed up for a week on the road that would include playing five different courses in six days. That’s way more than our usual and as we confided to an acquaintance: The QOD has much more chance of getting through that agenda unscathed than the 65 year old human. Plan B was to leave the QOD in the hotel room for the past two rounds and get a cart.
Day One was a very early start Sunday at the Australian Golf Media Association annual championship at the Concord Golf Club in Sydney and we arrived feeling very bright and clever as the AIRBNB accommodation we’d stayed in overnight was up two flights of stairs. We were (perversely) very happy to carry the Mini Miser up those stairs in the evening and back down in the early morning.
Concord Golf Club is a former top 100 course that had just gone through a major revamp and was having its official reopening that day. Normally a meticulously maintained course, you can image how it was manicured to the nth degree that day with the State Premier coming later to officiate at the reopening ceremony.
On such a course, the QOD is a breeze.
For despite its very compact modular design, the QOD proves to be a very stable and easily manoeuvrable platform. The two larger close together rear wheels aid manouvrability while the two extended smaller front wheels provide suspension as well as extra stability.
By now we were becoming quite used to the sensitive QOD speed controls so sticking to the carpet-like fairways of a place like Concord and the buggy was approaching our goal of being “seamless”. Of course, occasionally you have to go into the rough (only to help your golfing companions from Golf Australia Magazine find their balls) and even around the clubhouse there are things like gutters and other obstacles you need to negotiate.
The QOD has a lower ground clearance than my usual (older and much heavier) buggy so I had to be mindful of that when negotiating those obstacles like gutters or exposed rocks. (Probably, I realised, just like my station wagon has a lower ground clearance than a Land Rover. Even in a big four wheel drive you have to be mindful of the terrain in front of you).
The QOD proved to have plenty of grunt to go up steep slopes but despite its general stability you do have to be careful of how far it can be tilt sideways on steep inclines – just like judging the tolerance level of any four wheel vehicle sideways on a steep incline.
So overall the QOD put in its own premier performance at Concord. After the early rising, the round of golf, the presentation lunch, a three hour drive to Port Stephens, we were again perversely happy carrying the Mini Miser all the way from the car to our hotel room (not so much the rest of the luggage).
We were in Port Stephens for the annual Australian Veteran Golfers Union national championships, which meant four days of mostly stroke on some delightful but tough championship courses.
As the week progressed we encountered all sorts of conditions on the four courses involved, including on the top 100 rated Pacific Pines, and the little QOD never missed a beat. We became much attuned to the QOD capabilities and with the final rounds on Thursday and Friday never even thought of reverting to Plan B.
On the final day it started pelting down raining unfortunately but it did give us a full chance to use the QOD umbrella holder and the custom golf bag rain cover. With the umbrella up and quite a bit of wind the buggy remained stable and though we never like using rain covers, like seemingly everything from QOD, the thoughtfulness and quality of the design meant good function with minimal hassle.
So over the week the QOD performed admirably while the human only complained of some minor personal physical niggles. The only real questions were asked by fellow hotel guests and staff who wondered: “Why does that old golfer have such a stupid grin on his face with he is carrying that little battery thing to and from his room? And why does he only carry it with his little finger?”
Back Home to a Verdict
Back home to a verdict and we decided we were hugely impressed with the QOD, its overall design, ease of use and functionality. The compact modular design and light overall weight make it easy for an older golfer to lift in and out of their car and as we might of intimated, it’s a great choice for a travelling golfer.
The “Quality of Design” name is there for a reason and it is easy to see why it won a Golf “Product of the Year” Award in Europe. After seven years and counting of research and development owner Collin Hiss is continuing his refinement of the product. Collin’s faith in the product is reflected in the generous warranties and provisions that come with the QOD. Long term owners we met praised the level of continuing after sales service.
Overall, we decided we’d be delighted to have the QOD as our regular go-to buggy. You couldn’t do a whole lot better anywhere.
Yesterday we were back at our home club playing in the regular weekday comp with a couple of mates. The human body is such a wonderful adaptable thing. At one point there I tuned in to myself walking down a fairway between shots. I was talking to one of my companions, probably about some non-golf-related crap, but focusing I realised I had my left hand resting loosely on the right handlebar of the QOD. I was walking on the right had side of the buggy with my left little finger resting on the speed dial. Checking the display, the speed was on an easy four.
For more information: https://www.qodgolf.com.au/