Golf courses could sell cocktails earlier under SC proposal

By: - November 21, 2023 6:45 am

COLUMBIA — An early tee time could start with a bloody mary under a proposal expanding the hours and confines for cocktails at South Carolina golf courses.

Currently, liquor drinks can’t be sold in South Carolina before 10 a.m., said Tim Smith, spokesman for the state Department of Revenue, which oversees alcohol licenses.

But legislation sponsored by Rep. Brandon Cox, R-Goose Creek, would allow golfers to buy a liquor drink whenever the course is open. At some clubhouses, that would allow an Irish coffee as early as 6:30 a.m.

“If someone wanted to drink scotch at 9 a.m., this (proposed) law would allow them to,” Smith said.

It would also let them carry the cocktail “throughout the golf course.” In other words, they’d no longer have to stick close to the clubhouse bar to partake, as long as the course itself — not a third-party vendor — holds the liquor license, according to Smith.

Cox said the idea came from golf course managers.

“It’s not going to affect me,” Cox told SC Daily Gazette on Monday. “I’m not playing golf that early.”

He stressed that his proposal would not override local rules on Sunday sales. In South Carolina, liquor drinks can be sold on Sundays only if voters in that county approve.

Cox likened it to alcohol sales at airports. A law signed by Gov. Henry McMaster in May allows travelers to buy a cocktail after clearing security and drink it wherever they want inside the terminal, if the airport’s governing board approves. That law was requested by Charleston airport officials. It was sent to McMaster’s desk following a lengthy debate in the House, where some Republicans argued it would encourage people to drink.

The golf course proposal is among more than 100 bills filed last week for the legislative session that resumes in January.

Cox indicated he’s not going to push for it very hard.

“My major concerns are safety, the budget, and quality of life. This is more of a quality-of-life issue,” he said. “It’s not a critical bill to pass. … So, if it makes it that would be great. If not, we’ve got bigger fish to fry.”

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Abraham Kenmore
Abraham Kenmore

Abraham Kenmore is a reporter covering elections, health care and more. He joins the SC Daily Gazette from The Augusta Chronicle, where he reported on Georgia legislators, military and housing issues.