Editorial: Augusta’s working on its swing

The city known for golf and golf cars is upping its game

If golf cars are to be useful and ubiquitous on the streets of any city in the world, it ought to be Augusta, Ga.

 

For one thing, perhaps no city in the world is as associated with the game of golf other than St. Andrews, Scotland.

For another thing, the Augusta area is home to two of the world’s leading producers/innovators of golf cars, Club Car and E-Z-GO.

But while we manufacture a hefty share of the world’s golf cars, we need not reinvent the wheel: Thus, exciting plans for golf-car tours and shuttles downtown are being forged with similar offerings in mind in Nashville, Tenn.; Tuscaloosa, Ala.; and Scottsdale, Ariz.

A task force appointed by the Augusta Commission is going over possible parameters, policies and protocols, and officials expect a rollout of the procedures later this year.

It may seem a small thing to have golf cars tooling around downtown. But it promises a big change in atmosphere. The sight of happy tourists and locals enjoying downtown Augusta’s growing amenities in sporty, convenient golf cars can’t help but improve the climate.

The enhanced transportation options come at a most opportune moment, too – with downtown Augusta becoming younger and more energetic from the early-stage boom in cyber-related industries and the invasion of students at Augusta University, which continues to consolidate operations at its downtown campus.

The practical effects will be more important: Pedestrians will have a fun, easy way to get from hotel to restaurant to shop and to show. Even better, it will enable those enjoying adult beverages to get around without endangering others or themselves.

Low-speed vehicles are already legal under state and federal law; the task force is there to “update city ordinances and create the support structure” for standardized rules and accountable drivers, says Barry White, president and CEO of the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau.

White announced the fun changes this past week at the annual State of Tourism luncheon co-hosted by the Augusta Sports Council.

“From a tourism standpoint,” White told us, “we’d be happy taking small steps starting with approved ‘licensed’ drivers for guided, themed tours. We anticipate approved shuttle drivers as well, (who) may work for fees or tips. Again, starting small, it would be limited to a small geographic area in downtown with exact boundaries to be determined. … Details will be determined by the task force and presented to the commission for approval.”

There’s likely no devil in these details, either. This upgrade to downtown’s fun quotient is an unadulterated step forward for the city.

As we’ve noted before, a local leader once prodded Augusta to up its cool factor.

This is definitely cool.

 

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