Bubba Watson's Golf Cart Jetpack Is Sweet, but Flying It Won't Be Easy
This isn't a jetpack. It’s technically a small plane.
Bubba Watson is literally above golf carts. The American pro golfer, who will be competing in the Rio Olympics next month, will not be seen puttering down the fairway in a cart during the Games. Instead, he will be soaring up to 3,000 feet overhead. In a jetpack.
Watson, a technologically savvy and apparently golf cart-averse athlete, unveiled his jetpack in a video released earlier this week entitled “Bubba’s Jetpack.” The video — which contains such gems as “This is a game changer!” and “It’s almost an unfair advantage!” — went viral among the golf-nerd set, many of whom also dreamed of flying triumphantly over their cart-bound peers, trumpeting their technological prowess.
And who can blame them? Bubba’s jetpack is sweet. But despite how easy he makes it seem, flying one around a golf course is not going to be as simple as stepping in and out of any old vehicle.
Bubba’s jetpack is — in the U.S. at least — technically considered a light sport plane. At roughly 725 pounds, it’s too heavy to pass as a microlight aircraft. It’s modeled after the P12 prototype developed by Martin Aircraft, a New Zealand-based company that’s been trying to figure out jetpack technology for the past 30 years. Anyone who wants to fly one of these bad boys requires a Sport Pilot’s license, which is normally required to fly small airplanes, gliders, and rotorcrafts and requires a minimum of 20 hours of training and a series of practical and written tests.
This minor technicality, combined with the jetpack’s $200,000 price tag, extensive safety requirements (who has time to don a fireproof suit between holes?), and annoyingly loud engine might dampen the excitement of some golfers.
Watson, however, undoubtedly already holds a Sports Pilot license. He would’ve needed one to fly his golf cart hovercraft around the fairway after he unveiled it in 2013.
The excitement surrounding Bubba’s Jetpack makes it clear that technology has found — and will continue to find — a welcome home in the world of even the most traditional sports. Still, despite his deep affection for golf cart substitutes, Watson does not love technology indiscriminately. Here’s a video of him knocking a drone out of the sky with a golf ball.