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Police Drive Golf Carts From Pinehurst Streets

For golfers in Pinehurst, driving to the green is a daily pastime. But if they try to drive to the greens in their golf carts now, they may bring home a traffic ticket along with their scorecard.

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PINEHURST, N.C. — For local golfers, driving to the green is a daily pastime. But if they try to drive to the greens in their golf carts, they now face a ticket.

Golf carts have scooted around on public streets in Pinehurst for decades as duffers head to and from the links. Al Lowrie said he's driven his cart around the village for 16 years, and it's become a second car to him.

"I've passed police cars all the time. I wave to them, they wave to me," Lowrie said.

Last week, however, he was pulled over on his way to Pinehurst No. 5.

"When I turned into the golf course, I heard a police siren," he said. "I'm sitting there thinking, 'He's going to give me a ticket.' He comes back from his patrol car and said, 'I'm going to cut you a break this time.'"

State law forbids driving an undocumented vehicle, including a golf cart, on a public road. Pinehurst police never enforced the law, but Chief Ronnie Davis said safety concerns prompted him to order officers to begin ticketing cart drivers.

Police issued 10 verbal warnings to golfers last week, but they have not issued any tickets yet.

"We've got 150,000 vehicles through Pinehurst ... a day," Davis said, citing state Department of Transportation figures. "My big fear (is) that someone will be severely injured or killed."

Davis asked the Village Council to seek an exemption from the General Assembly to allow Pinehurst to set its own regulations. Fifteen other North Carolina towns, including nearby Whispering Pines, have such exemptions.

"(We could) regulate what streets they could ride on, who can operate the vehicle, what time of day it can be operated," he said.

Because the Village Council didn't act on his request, Davis said his officers would enforce the state law. But council members have asked the police department to hold off on enforcement while it studies its options.


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