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Hansen: In Laguna, golf carts are the way to go

September 04, 2013|By David Hansen
  • Jeff King and his dogs, Molly and Maggie in their custom seats.
Jeff King and his dogs, Molly and Maggie in their custom… (David Hansen )

Few people have time to golf, but you wouldn't know it based on the number of golf carts zipping around Laguna Beach.

We know it's not about the golf. It's about getting airborne on the Third Street hill.

No, the real reason is that some Lagunans are just smart. It's easier to use golf carts around town. They are efficient, practical and environmental.

"It's much easier to do errands in the cart," said Jeff King, a longtime cart traveler with his wife and two co-pilots, Yorkshire terriers Maggie and Molly. "It's much faster. It makes Laguna seem much more fun than it already is. And the dogs love it."

The dogs have their own custom-made seats that accommodate seat belts and dog harnesses.

Customization is the keyword when talking about carts, which range from about $5,000 to more than $15,000.

There are lift kits, booming stereos, storage boxes and as many knockoff body styles as you can imagine: Hummers, roadsters, Rolls Royce and little Ferraris.

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Kevin Smith has a lifted E-Z-GO 2Five, which is a popular brand, and has added various options that raised the price to about $13,000. He has had the machine for just over six months and loves it.

"I definitely think they're a great option for Laguna," he said. "They're just a lot more fun to drive. If I could drive it to work, I would."

There are rules of the road for the carts, of course. The state has defined them as "low-speed vehicles," which are subject to regular licensing, registration and basic vehicle requirements: lights, turn signals, wipers, etc. But the biggest rule is that drivers can't go on roads where the speed limit is greater than 35 miles per hour.

And that's not a problem in Laguna or similarly small areas or retirement communities. Plus, the carts are designed to hit a top speed of 25 miles per hour.

For King and his dogs, that's fine too. Speed is not the point, although King admits that he enjoys the occasional Laguna hill — he said the Third Street hill is a blast.

"I go down that and might hit 36 or 37, and I go whoopee," he said.

Most cart owners will admit that they don't feel completely safe for obvious reasons. Most models don't have doors. The frames are not built to withstand a full-blown collision. And, by definition, they are glorified golf carts!

"I don't think it would be a real good situation if you got hit," Smith said.

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