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The Ocean Reef Club

The Ocean Reef Club (November, 2002)

On Thursday, my friend and colleague Paulette invited me for lunch at the Ocean Reef Club.

If you take Card Sound Road, past the toll booth and over the bridge, follow the road to where it ends.  Go right, and you go to Key Largo, left to Ocean Reef.

I had heard of Ocean Reef for a long time, but had never actually been there.  I thought it was a condo, with a nice marina, a golf course, and some dockage. Maybe a pool.  I was way wrong.

Ocean Reef is a city resort for the very rich.  It’s Boca Raton set in northern Key Largo, among the canals, coves, inlets, and mangroves.  Cheap condos start at $270,000.

There are shops, a hotel, restaurants, and marinas. There is an airport, four golf courses, and a croquet field with manicured zoysia grass and perfectly laid out, upright wickets.  To play croquet at Ocean Reef, one must dress in white.

Residents and employees move about Ocean Reef in golf carts.  I saw Rolls Royce and Mercedes Benz golf carts driven about by 9-year old children — clean, well-scrubbed children of the affluent.

This was it.  The mother load of the rich and obscure. Old money was here.  The landscaping was Boca Tropical, with date palms, silver buttonwood, bougainvillea, and crotons — just for that old-time feel.

Take a look at the website, and if you can cadge an invitation from a resident, it’s worth your while to go.

It’s not the Florida Keys; it’s Boca Raton in Key Largo.  And if you like clean, well-scrubbed children, well-tended women, and men in golf shoes, Ocean Reef is great.  I’d join, if I could, for the croquet.

I’d sip gin and use the expression “sticky wicket.”

But Jimmy, I can stay at the Big Pine Motel, eat pizza at the No Name Pub, and see the world pass by from a stool at the Green Parrot Bar.  I’m glad I went, but if I liked Boca, I’d live there.

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