Bob Bestler

While I’ve come around on the use of golf carts, one thing about them still irks me

The annual Fourth of July Golf Cart Parade rolls through Ocean Lakes Campground in 2017.
The annual Fourth of July Golf Cart Parade rolls through Ocean Lakes Campground in 2017.

In one of the first columns I wrote for this newspaper, in 1988, I lamented that I had to use a golf cart on most Grand Strand courses.

I think I suggested we line them all up and drive them into the Intracoastal Waterway. Something like that.

Local leaders in the golf industry didn’t like it much and wondered why this new guy hated golf. It took a while to convince them I was on their side.

The thing is, I’ve always believed that walking a beautifully manicured golf course was one of the pleasures of the game.

It’s one of many reasons I enjoyed playing some of the best courses in Ireland a few years ago. I walked every one of them. Heavenly.

Arnold Palmer had a similar lament when Senior Tour players were permitted to ride carts. What’s next, asked Mr. Palmer. Petticoats? Ouch.

Anyway, now that I’m starting to get old and decrepit, I’ve begun to enjoy a golf cart when I play. Nowadays, I’m complaining for another reason. I think golf carts should be used the way God intended: for golf.

Bestler mug
Bob Bestler, a contributing columnist for The Sun News JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews

I know I’m going against the grain in this corner of the world. In my own McClellanville, there are dozens of golf carts roaming the streets and I’ll bet a tee time at the Dunes Club that not one driver has ever heard of Srixon. (It’s a golf equipment company.)

North Myrtle Beach seems particularly fond of golf carts, if parades are any indication. A friend and fellow golfer drives a golf cart designed in the brilliant black and gold of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pretty cool, Bob.

For years, South Carolina has tried to regulate golf cart use. Some of the laws: One must be 16, have proof of liability insurance, have a valid driver’s license, register with the SC Department of Vehicles, drive only in daylight and drive only on roadways with a speed limit of 35 mph or less.

There has always been a problem with the law in that it did not spell out penalties for those who drive recklessly. Officers could only issue warnings unless the violation fell under other laws (for instance, driving a vehicle without a license or liability insurance).

Recently the S.C. General Assembly closed that loophole. Beginning Nov. 19, violating any golf cart rule will be a misdemeanor punishable with a maximum fine of $100 or 30 days in jail, unless the violation is deemed to be a felony.

It doesn’t sound like much, but the Charleston Post & Courier quoted an attorney as saying, the law “didn’t have a lot of teeth before. This takes it a step above a traffic violation.”

I guess you could say I’ve given in on my golf cart arguments. Too many friends enjoy them, on and off the course.

So tool around in one if you must, but be careful out there. Golf carts are, by definition, designed for grass-covered fairways and have no defense against cars speeding down a paved street.

Personally, I’ll stick with my Schwinn. It gives me a lot more exercise than hopping on a golf cart.

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