Last Updated on November 17, 2023 by Chuck Wilson
Have you always felt your golf cart could be much more than just a golf course buggy or community conveyance? Can a golf cart go off-road? Yes, and you can easily build your off-road golf cart yourself.
You can take your cart to the next level and navigate to the hunting trails with your own off-road sporting monster machine! Off-road golf cart modifications can offer improved safety and will boost your vehicle’s performance to the next level.
Here is a list of do-it-yourself modifications to elevate your build to be the customized inspiration of the neighborhood.
Steps to Building An Off-Road Golf Cart
1. Lift Kits
Any off-roading with your golf cart is going to need you to lift the chassis and eliminate high-centering and clear rocky terrains. If you are increasing the tire size, it is likely you will need to lit the cart anyway, but fear not! It is an easy process to raise the cart AND widen the stance for more stability. This wider stance also increases the driving experience for you and riding comfort for your passengers.
If your larger tire picks are not completely accommodated by the lift kit height you choose, carving out the wheel well and using fender flares will work well.
You can readily find the parts kits designed specifically for your make and model golf cart, and the height you want to attain.
2. Beef Up The Suspension – Heavy Duty Leaf Springs
Golf carts come standard with a light-duty suspension, especially if it starts out as a 2-seater. Whether you use your off-road golf cart for hunting or camping, you want to be able to carry a heavy load from point A to point B. It took me about an hour to install a heavy-duty leaf spring set on a church’s E-Z-Go golf cart, so it is certainly a quick process. Any off-road vehicle modifications will benefit from beefing up the suspension.
3. Swap Your Tires For Better Traction
From rocky hills to slick mud holes, all-terrain tires or knobby off-road tires are a must for traveling the trails. This type of tire tread may be very similar to what you would find on an ATV or a quad. They are not appropriate for the golf links, however.
When larger tires are chosen, the wheels will usually need to be upgraded to accommodate the larger size, but the wheels can even be negative offset golf cart wheels to move the footprint away from the body. This provides stability, something you will need once the cart is lifted and the center of gravity is higher. Your new tires will need to be B or C rated for off-road use.
4. Fender Flares
Fender flares are trim pieces that extend the wheel well out away from the golf cart body to cover the larger wheel offset. They can also give a finished and polished look to a wheel well that has been cut larger to accommodate the new tires.
WORLD 9.99 MALL Golf Cart Fender Flares for Club Car DS 1994-Up, Front and Rear with Mounting Hardware(Set of 4) nting Hardware(Set of 4)
- Fit Model: Golf Cart 4PCS Fender Flares fit for Club Car DS 1994-up Golf Cart.
- Protective Effects: 10L0L golf cart fenders protect cars and passengers from rocks, gravel, mud and other damaging debris that can be kicked up by tires give you a clean and new cart.
Made of plastic or fiberglass, they provide a completely professional look to your modification, and in some cases, fulfill the legal requirement demanding a shield from the tires.
5. Install An LED Light Bar
Improved forward lighting means better visibility, and improved safety from hard-to-see obstacles. LED light bars are an easy upgrade to install and there are dozens of mounting possibilities.
LED Light Bar AUTOSAVER88 16 Inch LED Work Light 4D 144W with 8ft Wiring Harness Kit, Straight Fish Eye Lens 12000Lumens Offroad Automotive Spot & Flood Combo Beam
- [Advanced Bright LED Technology] – 50,000 hour lifetime; Spot Flood Combo light application; 4D lens 30% Brighter than other LED lights; Up to 20,000 Lumens
- [Weather-Proofed!] – IP68 Rated 100% weather resistant glass; Heavy-duty die-cast aluminum construction; Improved heat sinks efficiently disperse heat; Say goodbye to foggy lenses
6. Change Lead-Acid Batteries To Lithium-Ion Batteries
You might want to consider swapping out your standard golf cart batteries with lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries weigh half as much as lead-acid batteries and will lighten your cart considerably.
Most lithium-ion batteries have 95 percent efficiency meaning that 95 percent of the energy stored in a lithium-ion battery is actually able to be used. Lead-acid batteries see efficiencies closer to 80 to 85 percent. Higher efficiency batteries charge faster, and with the depth of discharge available, a higher effective battery capacity.
With all upgrades to lithium-ion batteries on an electric cart, you’re going to need a matching battery charger. You need to buy one specially made with the battery management IC circuitry for Li-Ion batteries.
7. Add A Winch
Winches are available with the capability of being attached quickly to either the front or back bumper of your golf cart. Unlike driving down the neighborhood streets, you can get high-centered on rocks or stuck in a mud hole, and having the winch handy gives you peace of mind that you can get back on the trail fast.
8. Swap The Motor
Up to this step, we have been adding icing to the cake, but now we get to the heart of the vehicle – the motor. Adding torque to your golf cart is a necessary step to get into terrain hopping and backwoods adventuring.
On an electric golf cart, you will be able to trade out the electric motor for an upgraded model fairly easily, but you will also need to upgrade the speed controller, and possibly add heavy-duty cabling and solenoids.
High Performance Golf Cart Motors – Club Car DS Motor (Series) – 170-002-0002 – 19 MPH – 10% More Torque – 36/48 Volt American Made Golf Cart Motor – Replaces OEM# 1012191, 5BC48JB764
- Club Car Golf Cart Motor – 36/48 Volt Golf Cart Motor – ONLY Series golf carts – Stock 10 Tooth spline – 19 mph & 10% More Torque versus a stock Golf Cart Motor. (Club Car Electric Motor)
- This motor is an economical way to get some more
Gasoline golf carts have a wide variety of replacement engines, to increase speed and add torque to your build. From Honda to Harbor Freight, you can go from a 13hp to a 22hp vehicle in no time. When coupled with the adapter kits the cost begins to go up but committed golf cart enthusiasts will want to take up this challenge.
9. Camouflage Wraps
When using your cart for hunting, you will want to camouflage the car body, and there is no easier way to do this than with a golf cart wrap kit. These can be purchased precut for your model golf carts such as a Club Car kit or you can even cut your own from a roll. Regardless of which method you choose your new build is going to look like a brand new golf cart. I have an article on the best way to wrap (or skin) your car on this site, so be sure to check it out.
10. Brush Guards
After you have decided to use your cart to power through the underbrush, you may want to protect the golf carts’ body and light bar from the saplings and vines you will encounter. One way to accomplish this is to add a brush guard, either a used one, a good home-built one, or a pre-manufactured brush guard for your brand’s carts.
11. Rear Seat Cargo Bed-Flip Down Passenger Seats
This is an excellent way to add a cargo bed to your cart. I mentioned earlier in the article that I installed a heavy-duty leaf spring into a used golf cart so that a local church could use it to shuttle elderly patrons from the parking lot. This involved the easy installation of a rear seat that can flip down and even be used to haul things around. If you bagged your limit for the day or even need to move things around a woodland homestead, this is a handy and inexpensive addition without a lift kit.
12. Custom Seat Upgrade
With rougher terrain comes the need for better cushioning for comfort and increased riding tolerance. There are tons of bolt-on custom seats available, and with a little shopping for style and color, you can finish off your design with style.
The offseason for golf will, for many, be the perfect time to put the cart on jack stands and customize to your heart’s content. Imagine the reveal when you show the newly upgraded golf cart and make its debut in your neighborhood.