Could a modern twist save a declining sport?


Don Wildman and his GolfBoard are adding a new twist to a sport with time-honored traditions, reports CBS News correspondent Carter Evans.

Cruising the fairway at up to 10 miles an hour, the battery-powered GolfBoard -- similar to a cross between a skateboard and a surfboard -- can last 36 holes.

"Golf is partly masochistic. I think it's a masochistic sport, I hate to say that. And standing up like this, it gives you a whole different feeling than sitting down," Wildman said. "Can you imagine a guy my age and able to do this? It's like I'm 14!"

At 83, Wildman is redefining what it means to be a great-grandfather. He's a world-class athlete in several sports.

A few years ago, as an enticement to get his friend, big wave surfer Laird Hamilton, onto the links, Wildman suggested traversing the course on electric skateboards. The idea for the GolfBoard was born.

"People wondered, 'What the heck is that?' But the first reaction was, 'It looks cool,'" Wildman said.

Surprisingly, the industry is embracing the board. A review on suggests, "This is the future of getting around a course." And it may be a way to attract a new generation to the game. That's important because golf's popularity is in decline -- from a high of more than 30 million players in 2005 to just over 24 million in 2015 -- and just five percent of golfers under the age of 30.

"If I was a kid and my father said to me, 'Hey, let's go play golf,' and he told me there was going to be a skateboard that I could go on the golf course, I would be the first one that would want to be out there," Wildman said.

While admittedly obsessive about golf, Wildman has devoted his life to the fitness business. He founded the company that went on to become Bally Total Fitness, helping make exercise appeal to the masses.

These days, his punishing workouts consume hours a day: dragging a log through the sand; spinning along the surf on his newest venture, the beach board; then going back to the green.

Greenskeepers are happy because the GolfBoard doesn't damage the fairways. It's significantly lighter than a golf cart, its turf-friendly tires are skid-proof and the board is geared to travel downhill without picking up speed.

"You keep jumping around like you're surfing. You move your feet, you're flexible, you're dancing around," Wildman said. "The more you get used to it, you realize how stable it is that you feel pretty confident and you're not going to get hurt."

With more than 1,000 GolfBoards in use daily, not a single injury has been reported, according to the company, compared to some 15,000 golf cart-related injuries which required hospital visits in 2014.

Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort in Palm Springs, California, now has a fleet of GolfBoards renting for $25 a piece, and they book up fast. Golf pro Steve Bossard said the boards are boosting business.

"We've seen the numbers. Ninety percent have said 'I'm coming here to play because I want to take the GolfBoard out on the course,'" Bossard said.

Wildman foresees a future where a course is designed with GolfBoards in mind -- and he plans to be there swinging.