David Lauderdale

Golf cart wars: Daufuskie calls the cops, but they ain’t misbehavin’ on remote SC island

Do you drive a golf cart on the street in South Carolina? Here are 9 things you should know.

Do you drive a golf cart on the street in the Lowcountry? You could be breaking some South Carolina state laws and not even know it. Take a look at this quick video and make sure you're cruising legally.
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Do you drive a golf cart on the street in the Lowcountry? You could be breaking some South Carolina state laws and not even know it. Take a look at this quick video and make sure you're cruising legally.

Life in the fast lane is going to ruin Daufuskie Island.

The island with no bridge was enjoying its slumber until someone had to go and call the cops.

Tourists were disturbing the peace, they said. There seem to be more of these visitors, and they’re bringing with them a rash of public drinking and reckless golf cart driving.

And a new need for the po-po, who have generally let Daufuskie lie low since that bloody fight on the beach between Native Americans and Europeans.

Now Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office deputies are on Daufuskie more often, and they’re handing out tickets, mostly warning tickets, and the people want them to go away.

They want to nip it in the bud before a golf cart war breaks out and turns the beach blood red again.

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Sorry, but that’s not how it works, except in Mayberry.

If Daufuskie folks want to live in the good old days, they’re going to have to ride in ox carts and return to the Lowcountry’s first designated driver: the marsh tacky horse.

We’ve seen this movie before in the Lowcountry. It’s almost like “Groundhog Day.”

Hilton Head Island used to have three cops and one traffic light. Now look at it.

Daufuskie writer Roger Pinckney XI once told me that “Hilton Head has been tastefully ruined.”

Then on a day with especially heinous crimes in our paper, he’ll send an email: “I take away ‘tastefully.’ “

Daufuskie may now be perched atop that familiar Lowcountry slope that slides toward traffic circles, golden arches, time shares — and the jailhouse blues.

Ned the beer-swilling pig from Marshside Mama’s heyday will live only in fuzzy memories.

So will the days of true crime on Daufuskie, when masters of the spirits made moonshine in secret stills and ferried it to Savannah disguised as scrap iron. Or when bales of pot rolled around in the surf like “square grouper.”

The wonderful new book by Daufuskie’s Jenny Hersch and Sallie Ann Robinson, “Images of America: Daufuskie Island,” tells how this all got started.

“The first traffic signs were installed on Daufuskie Island in 1986, including a stop sign, a yield sign, and a school-crossing sign,” the book says.

And it tells about the great Daufuskie wreck of Christmas Eve 1951 when the only two vehicles on the island collided.

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Dear old Bluffton tried to grab progress by the horns with its own police department. It religiously enforced an infamous 30 mph speed limit. And tourists roaring through to relax on Hilton Head wrote nasty letters to the editor, demanding revenge and asking how dare those bumpkins ticket such a prominent individual for going a mere 31 mph.

Bluffton shrugged. But it didn’t stop the slippery slope.

Sheriff P.J. Tanner takes his job seriously, and now that he’s been called to Daufuskie, the good folk should count their blessings that they haven’t yet seen the SWAT team or government-surplus helicopters flying among formations of brown pelicans.

All in the name of a quiet little Lowcountry island, where they say they ain’t misbehavin’.

David Lauderdale: 843-706-8115, @ThatsLauderdale

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