Pinehurst allows golf carts on village streets

Decades of ignoring a state motor vehicle law came to an end Tuesday when the Pinehurst Village Council passed an ordinance regulating golf cart usage.

Golfers seemed happy about the provisions, which allow them to do legally what many have been doing illegally for years – drive their golf carts from their homes to Pinehurst Resort's golf courses. Pinehurst Resort expects the new regulations will spur an interest in private cart ownership.

The ordinance comes on the heels of a bill passed July 10 that allows Pinehurst to regulate golf cart use within the village limits. Rep. Joe Boylan introduced the bill after Pinehurst Police Chief Ronnie Davis ordered that verbal warnings be given to golfers using carts illegally. Davis' officers issued about 10 warnings in January before the village manager and mayor asked Davis to stop.

Davis complied with the request.

The ordinance allows private cart owners to drive from their homes to golf courses within Pinehurst. At the discretion of the police, the carts also can be driven during special events to ease traffic congestion.

Carts cannot be driven along roads with a speed limit greater than 35 mph.

No carts can be driven at night, unless the cart is equipped with headlights and a rear red lamp or red decals. Carts that are equipped with lights can only operate for one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise.

Golf cart drivers are required to have a valid driver's license and a decal from Pinehurst Resort, and they must insure the golf cart for $300,000. Pinehurst Resort requires private cart owners carry $500,000 in liability insurance.

Violators can be fined up to $50 and can be ticketed and penalized as if they were driving a vehicle, the ordinance states.

Pinehurst Resort's eight golf courses are the only courses inside the village limits, said Don Sweeting II, who manages golf and club operations.

The new ordinance will have little effect on the club's 500 private cart owners, Sweeting said.