By Brian O’Hare – 24/02/2020 – Australian Senior Golfer
CONCOURSE GOLF has certainly come a long way in a comparatively short time. Not only have their individual products like the renowned Smart Wheels quickly matured, but the range of offerings has also greatly expanded.
We first became acquainted with the Australian golf equipment company with the release of their award winning CBM3 Push Buggy back in 2016.
The premise behind the “Compact, Clever, Quick” CBM3 was that Concourse not only wanted to deliver a push buggy with great on-course balance and performance, but one that was as user friendly, as convenient and as space-saving as possible when it came to setting it up before a round, packing it up afterwards, transporting it in a vehicle and storing it at home.
Concourse company founder Dave MacKay came up with the idea of moving away from a traditional fold up buggy design and replacing it with a streamlined main “spine” that straps to your golf bag and most often stays there.
When you arrive at a course you lift your golf bag with attached CBM3 “spine” out of the boot and with one touch it quickly unfolds. Two light independent wheels click on small axles, a third front wheel slots into place and you’re off within minutes.
We did a review of the original CBM3 back in January 2017 in which we initially said we were very impressed with all the innovation and compact design but weren’t sure how it would perform on course. Our reservations were quickly dispelled with the buggy proving to be surprisingly stable, very easy to push, highly manoeuvrable and user friendly. The quick assembly and compact packing away (and all the benefits this would have for golf trips away) was immediately apparent.
The success of the CBM3 got MacKay to thinking – what if he could replace those two lightweight click-on wheels with two independent, self-powered remote controlled click-on wheels? Not only could they turn the CBM3 into a fully remote controlled buggy, they could basically do the same for any existing push buggy.
When we first heard about this ambition, we had a good look at the CBM3 and thought… nah, that’s about as feasible as putting a man on the moon.
Fortunately for mankind, and golf, we weren’t personally involved with either mission.
For MacKay it was the beginning of an awful lot of sleepless nights, an awful lot of frustration, lots of designing and experimentation, and lots and lots of development funding.
When MacKay and his team eventually debuted his design award winning Concourse Smart Wheels they were a revelation – two fully independent click on “Smart Wheels” that communicated to each other with some advanced Bluetooth software, had self-contained motor and battery systems… and it was all fully remote controlled!
We tried out and reviewed the first Smart Wheels edition along with one of the dedicated Vogue buggies in July 2019 [ Concourse Smart Wheels Golf Buggy Review: Reinventing the wheel ]
Overall we found it to be a remarkable design achievement and a great on course experience – apart from a couple of niggles:
The Smart Wheels are programmed so the two wheels would “talk” to each other (through Bluetooth) about the application of power, braking, steering etc. Originally it was programmed to always track straight and true, so if you were going down the centre of a fairway on remote control and there was uneven terrain or whatever the buggy would continue to track in a straight line because it was constantly auto-correcting any deviations. When you clicked the remote control unit back on the buggy it was supposed to allow manual steering to always override the automatic steering system, so you could easily steer by hand. Unfortunately that wasn’t always happening.
We found trying to manually steer down a winding cart path, for instance, to be difficul at times because the Smart Wheels were automatically trying to straighten the trajectory. It was an annoying bug that also ended up demonstrating one of the great new benefits of the Smart Wheels – the software system can now be easily updated online. The wheels ship with a USB cable – you just attach the wheels to your device and in minutes have the latest version… magic
So the full new Smart Wheels product now available for order has now been labelled “Series 2” and we found the steering bug is gone and manual steering by hand now works with a feather-light touch and is totally responsive. I don’t know how they did that, but they did it. (Existing customers with the earlier versions have now all had their units updated either back at the factory or online. Existing customers were given a free of charge update and service)
The Series 2 Smart Wheels also have a number of other operating and performance improvements, including going from 5 forward gears to 7.
Early on using the Smart Wheels with a dedicated Concourse Vogue Buggy one day we were in a rush at a course and neglected to attach the stabilising fourth rear wheel. We quickly realised, particularly on a heavily undulating course, that the buggy had a tendency on remote to tip up if started too quickly from stationary or could tip up going up hills.
We also wondered how existing push buggies – including the CMB3 and other popular brands – without a fourth wheel would cope with all that low centre of gravity torque. (Most motorised buggies do have a fourth back wheel of some kind).
Concourse was already on to the issue and have come up with a range of “fourth wheel” options for their CMB3 Power Buggy combo and for other push buggy brands where needed.
Smart Wheels 2 paired with CMB3 with 4th Wheel kit
Concourse is nothing if not innovative and so their solution to the CMB3 with Smart Wheels stabilisation issue is like many of their products – the design inspires an initial double take – but then you try it out, and it just works!
The CMB3 with Smart Wheels was always going to be a winner for golfers who like to travel, have limited boot space, are part of a golf travelling couple, or just any golfer who likes to arrive at a course and with a minimum of fuss – and a couple of clicks – is off and running with a fully remote controlled buggy.
Most golfers – and probably not just us lazy ones (I mean us “time poor” ones) – will leave the CMB3 spine attached to their golf bags. In any case the CMB3 spine it is quick and easy to attach and detach to most golf bags.
Setting up before a round is simple. Just one click on a lever to have the leg struts unfurl. Slide the two individual Smart Wheels onto their small axles and click into place. Slide the small front wheel into its socket – and now click the 4th Wheel strut into place. (The two Smart Wheels are clearly labelled “Left” and “Right”. Don’t mess this up and reverse them – otherwise you will have to walk the entire 18 holes backwards!)
That new 4th Wheel strut may look a bit “different” at first but it certainly does the job.
Ideally, going up steep inclines you would keep a helping hand under your buggy just in case (it’s a golf buggy not a 4 wheel drive Range Rover) but for testing purposes and without fear or favour we sent the unit alone on remote up some serious hills and into some precarious situations. It never missed a beat, or threatened to topple backwards.
On the flat the 4th Wheel strut usually travels an inch or so off the ground so doesn’t come into play until needed. As mentioned, the Smart Wheels now have 7 gears rather than 5 so that also helps with a smooth start off and greater range of speed options to suit walking pace and ground conditions.
We were also using one of Concourse’s new Special Edition Golf Bags – they look great and with all the storage available you can fit a serious amount of junk in there, which we always seem to be able to manage to do… but in this case arranged just to further test the buggy stability. (It is actually always a good idea to pay attention to how you are distributing weight in your golf bag to help with balance and performance.)
The Concourse Special Edition Golf Bag, and others in their range, can be attached quickly and easily to the CBM3 Golf Buggy using the Concourse Strapless Connection System.
The Smart Wheels come with a little storage/travel Carry Bag in which they can also be recharged – a process that takes around four hours and is good for up to 36 holes in a day.
With the latest improvements and enhancements – particularly the super responsive manual steering for those occasions you need it – the Smart Wheels are now what they always threatened to be – a seamless on course experience.
It’s great having such an innovative buggy, one that has won top international design awards, one that often attracts the attention of your fellow golfers, but what you really want on course is a buggy that just does its job while you concentrate on your golf.
The Smart Wheels Series 2 and CMB3 does that in spades – and has all the benefits of the quick and easy set up and compact storage.
Smart Wheels turns the CBM3 – and most modern push buggy models – into a super responsive, powerful remote controlled buggy.
Concourse Golf’s growing product list
We stated at the outset that Concourse Golf has come a long way in a comparatively short time and that that is also apparent with their growing range of products.
As well as the Smart Wheels Series 2 in white or black, there are a number of push or power buggy combinations available, a selection of Concourse golf bags, and a growing accessory list.
The Smart Wheels are designed to click on most modern push buggies and there are a range of small axle converters for most major brands, as well as small “4th Wheel” type click on stabilisers for most brands where needed (See Photos).
If you’d like to the see the Concourse Smart Wheels in action, Click Here.
If you’d like to find out more about the Concourse CBM3 Power Buggy, Click Here.
If you’d like see the full range of Concourse Power Buggy & Bag Combos, Click Here.