The Howard County Alcoholic Beverage Hearing Board unanimously voted Tuesday, Jan. 10 to allow Turf Valley Hotel and Country Club to change its liquor license from a golf course license to a country club license, clearing the way for the Ellicott City facility to serve alcohol earlier in the day.
The license change will allow Turf Valley to begin serving alcohol at 6 a.m. rather than the current 11 a.m. The cutoff time remains 2 a.m.
Sam Mangione, whose family owns the Turf Valley resort in Ellicott City, said the license change will only result in minor changes to the country club's operations, allowing alcohol service at occasional early morning golf events and its weekly Sunday brunch.
"There's not a whole lot of people, thank goodness, who are out drinking at 6 o'clock in the morning," Mangione said.
Asked why the resort was not originally set up with a country club license, Mangione said he doesn't believe the option was available at the time.
Other county golf courses, meanwhile, remain limited by the state law that says establishments in Howard with golf course licenses cannot serve alcohol until 11 a.m. Those facilities say the limit makes it harder to compete for special events with golf courses in other jurisdictions, where alcohol can be served earlier.
The Howard County Delegation is considering introducing a bill in the 2012 session, which began Jan. 11, to change the law to allow facilities with golf course licenses to serve alcohol starting at 6 a.m. The delegation is expected to vote on the bill Jan. 18.
Mangione said Turf Valley was aware of the delegation's proposal.
"We don't oppose the legislation, but we don't know if and when it's going to get passed," he said, noting the resort decided to be "proactive" and pursue its own solution.