Visitors to Goodland will immediately notice that many of us cruise around town on golf carts. This isn’t necessarily unheard of in Florida. Many golfing communities allow golf carts in their neighborhoods. But Goodland isn’t even close to a golf course, so why is everyone driving around on golf carts?
The answer: Because we can. And the county says so too. In 2006, an official ordinance was passed making it legal for residents of Goodland to drive their golf carts on the street. It seems that after years of carefree carting, the question of safety and traffic regarding golf cart use in our village was raised. And just like that, Goodland’s golf carting days were almost lost forever. It was official; we were in “cart crisis.”
Thankfully, Goodland has a loyal group of golf cart enthusiasts who would not let one of our favorite pastimes be taken from us. A petition was started and it quickly circulated throughout the .4 square mile community (of which .2 square miles are made up of canals and bays). With a total population of 320 residents in Goodland, 263 people signed the petition. Of all the signatures, 54 owned golf carts.
On April 11, 2006, over a dozen Goodlanders attended the Collier County Board of Commissioners Meeting with the Golf Cart Petition in tow. The residents asked that an ordinance be passed legalizing golf cart access on public streets throughout Goodland. After some discussion it was decided that the issue would be looked into.
Months passed and the golf cart debate still lingered. Finally, on November 28, 2006, a decision was made. A study conducted by the Collier County Transportation Division’s Traffic Operations Department concluded that golf carts could, in deed, be safely operated on Goodland’s streets. The community celebrated the victory and is still thankful to the county for legalizing golf carts on our streets. Signs were soon erected designating Goodland as a golf cart community.
No one really seems to know where the golf cart tradition began, but it is a part of most of our lives now. We cart to the Post Office, to friend’s houses, to work, for a bite to eat or for an evening cruise of our quaint village. Many locals even decorate their carts for holidays or special occasions. Halloween and Christmas always guarantee a great show of decorated carts parading down the streets. In fact, the village has been known to hold golf cart parades and golf cart decorating contests.
Golf carts in Goodland also come in all different shapes and sizes. Some have painted their carts with unique designs or modified them to fit more passengers. After all, without any golf course around, who needs the golf bag racks on the back? There are even a few carts in town with oversized tires and chrome rims. Each cart is definitely unique to its owner.
There is nothing Goodlanders enjoy more than adhering to our traditions. The Golf Cart Petition and community involvement during the “cart crisis” proves that we will always fight to keep the Old Florida fishing village feel alive. So don’t mess with us! Now, let’s ride…
Natalie Strom has lived in Goodland for over two years and has worked in Goodland on and off for more than five years. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is also a former Buzzard Queen of Stan’s Idle Hour in Goodland.