The Washington Post

Howard County golfers want the right to drink earlier — at 6:30 a.m.

Is a golf course a fulfilling place if golfers can’t drink before 11 a.m.? (Bloomberg News)

These rights have existed as long as Sunday duffers have been hooking dimpled balls onto nearby roadways — which is a very long time — but in Howard County these rights have not, historically, been fully vested. That’s because the earliest time golfers are permitted to relieve their thirst with a Bud Light or a shot of Jose Cuervo is — gulp — 11 a.m.

The great legislators of our time are great because they see such injustices as an opportunity to get on the right side of history, and the Howard County delegation has chosen this session in Annapolis, amid debates over gay marriage and budget shortfalls, to tackle the lubrication of golfers.

They have introduced House Bill 1046: “AN ACT concerning Howard County — Alcoholic Beverages Sales — Golf Courses.” The bill, if passed, would change the time golf courses in Howard County could begin selling liquor and beer to golfers from 11 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. — times on par with other counties in the region.

Montgomery, Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties permit golf course
imbibing commencing at 6 a.m.

“Golfers just want to have their beverages earlier,” said Craig Shaffer, the general manager of Waverly Woods Golf Club in Marriottsville. He is hopeful the bill passes not just because happy golfers are returning golfers, but because tournaments and charity events bookers often pick surrounding counties over Howard because of earlier drinking times.

“For whatever reason, a big stumbling block for them has been alcohol sales,” said Del. Guy J. Guzzone (D-Howard County). “I’m not sure I’d want to drink that early but all I can say is that it routinely comes up when booking larger outings.”

Howard County’s biggest resort and golf course — Turf Valley Hotel and Country Club — has been able to skirt the issue by getting a country club liquor license instead of a golf course liquor licence. Howard County officials aren’t able to expand golf course license serving times without help from Annapolis, which leaves courses such as Waverly Woods, The Timbers at Troy, and Hobbit’s Glen, in a bind.

A public hearing on the issue was held last week, and behind the support of the county’s delegation, Guzzone expects the bill will pass soon, which means Howard County golfers will be fully vested in their rights to mulligans, 7 a.m. beers, and the pursuit of happiness.

Michael Rosenwald is a reporter on the Post's local enterprise team. He writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture.


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