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The Greening of Orange County

If you were creating the ideal all-American golf destination from scratch, what would it include?First, you'd want perfect 70- to 85-degree weather all year round. And an ocean nearby with world-famous beaches, and sunsets off a cliff with mountains behind you.

Luxury?Yes, luxury bordering on decadence, if possible. Why not make the venue one of the very wealthiest places in the world?For lodgings, how about the Four Seasons Hotel Newport Beach or the sumptuous Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel?

Naturally, in such a place the cuisine would be just as rich--unless, of course, you want the best health food anywhere. Toss that into the mix, too.

What about the kids?This golf heaven would have to be eminently suited to the whole family. Why not make your destination perhaps the single most kid-friendly place in America, with Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm close by?

Believe it or not, this golf-plus-anything-else-you-could-possibly-desire destination now exists. It didn't just ten years ago, and even now, relatively few realize it's available. Call for tee times on weekdays, and the pro shop personnel often say, "Just come on over."

Orange County, California, has long enjoyed such private clubs as Big Canyon, Dove Canyon, Mission Viejo, El Niguel and Coto de Caza. But now it has gotten a whiff of egalitarianism and wants us to join the fun. Or, maybe, in this nirvana for devout capitalists, the local entrepreneurs smell all those bull-market dollars in middle-America's pockets begging to be harvested.

In either case, for those of us who'd rather reach a par five in two than hang-ten at dawn, this California Riviera is finally suitable for a totally civilized visit.

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