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Hovercraft golf cart to debut in Springfield

On first glance, the YouTube video of PGA golfer Bubba Watson driving a hovercraft down the middle of the fairway, like it’s any other other golf course, looks like something out of science fiction movie.

“Golf carts have looked the same,” Watson says in the video. “They’ve been the same. You’ve got to stay 30 yards from the green. You’ve got to stay on the cart path if it’s raining. But let’s have fun. Let’s go through the water hazard, come off the other side right by the green, punch a ball in the hole and then you can drive back through the water hazard, and who doesn’t want to do that?”

That’s a question Windy Knoll Golf Club will answer July 27 when it becomes the first course in the United States to feature the Neoteric Golf hovercraft. World Golf Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez, LPGA player Paige Mackenzie and Tim Rosaforte of NBC, the Golf Channel and Golf Digest, will be hand for a new conference that day at the course.

Dave Duffey, general manager at Windy Knoll, said they started looking into getting the hovercraft golf cart when they saw the Bubba Watson video. He said each cart cost more than $50,000. They are produced in Terre Haute, Ind., by a company that has made hovercraft for police and fire departments, the U.S. Air Force and Disney World.

“We ordered two of them,” Duffey said. “We’re getting the first two production models in the world.”

The hovercrafts ride a cushion of air and deliver a footprint pressure 33 times less than the human foot, according to Neoteric. They’re designed to drive over sand traps or water hazards or even be parked on the green.

Duffey said he is going to Terre Haute on July 18 for training on the hovercraft and to learn how maintain and fix them. Windy Knoll will get one at that time to take home and the second one on July 26.

“Right now we’ll be a little conservative,” Duffey said. “We’ll probably use them for special events. We need to see how difficult they are to drive, how safe they are. When you come to play golf, you want to have fun and stay in one piece. We’ll investigate that and probably include them in outings first and gradually increase their use.”

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