UN­DER­COVER TOUR PRO

When it makes sense to join the jet set

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents - With Max Adler

The cost of fly­ing pri­vate.

When I y com­mer­cial, I wear jeans and a hoodie. I won’t shave, ei­ther, so when you rst see me on the plane you might won­der, Who is this home­less per­son sit­ting in rst-class? The only air­port where I’m recog­nised with any fre­quency is my home re­gional, but there it’s nice. Peo­ple wave and say “Play well this week” if it’s Tues­day morn­ing, or “Wel­come back” if it’s a Mon­day or Satur­day. No­body’s go­ing to cor­ner me and ask if I think Tiger is re­ally done.

I’ve got a hand­ful of wins on the PGA Tour, which makes for a good sit­u­a­tion: I’m not a house­hold name, and only life­long golf fans know me. I don’t like be­ing a jerk, but I can un­der­stand how a lot of top pros even­tu­ally be­come un­ap­proach­able. They can’t walk 50 me­tres with­out get­ting stopped. Ev­ery­one needs time for work, for fam­ily and just for them­selves. Be­cause I spend so much time away from home, even 30 ex­tra min­utes here and there can feel pre­cious. That’s why I y pri­vately as much as I can. Sure, four grand or so per hour can seem ab­surd, but the di er­ence be­tween sleep­ing in my bed at home on Sun­day night af­ter a tour­na­ment ver­sus hun­ker­ing down on a red-eye is price­less.

Fly­ing pri­vately all sea­son, say 105 hours in the air, is go­ing to cost half a mil. For a top-30 guy, which means you’re pulling down at least $6 mil­lion a year be­tween prize money and en­dorse­ments, it’s a no-brainer. Play­ers in the tier below need to be a bit more ju­di­cious. If I can text around and nd two, or, bet­ter, three other golfers to split a jet, the cost to most des­ti­na­tions be­comes about the same as a rst-class ticket. Ob­vi­ously, co­or­di­nat­ing ev­ery­one’s sched­ule can get com­pli­cated, but the PGA-Tour has travel sta to help out. If you miss the cut Fri­day morn­ing and want to hop on a ight that af­ter­noon to West Palm Beach, you won’t have a prob­lem. Tons of pros live there. If you need to go to Phoenix or Dal­las, y com­mer­cial. There are so many di­rect ights that you’ll get there in the same amount of time. So what if you can’t have your favourite vin­tage of chilled white wine? Play bet­ter.

When I take my fam­ily, that’s a crew of kids, my wife and usu­ally my mother-in-law. The psy­cho­log­i­cal toll of mov­ing our cir­cus through a crowded se­cu­rity line is no way to pre­pare for a tour­na­ment. And be­cause I’d have to buy six tick­ets, it ba­si­cally justi es the cost of go­ing pri­vate.We just drive up to the tar­mac, our bags are loaded right away, and boom, we’re o .

A goofy as­pect of the US tax law is, with frac­tional own­er­ship of a jet, I can’t write o the ex­pense of tak­ing my fam­ily. But if I owned the jet out­right (which only the real megas­tars do, like Rory, Tiger, Phil, Ernie), I could write o the whole thing.

Speak­ing of Un­cle Sam, I’ve had is­sues. One of my early guys cut cor­ners, and he had to pay the penal­ties later on. It dragged out and was a night­mare. Now I have some­one very con­ser­va­tive or­gan­ise my tax re­turn. I’m not good enough to play out here with those kinds of dis­trac­tions.

And that’s why I y pri­vate, to cut down on dis­trac­tions. Get­ting in the right frame of mind to com­pete against the best in the world is hard enough with­out hav­ing to deal with de­lays, lost bags, grubby food courts, other peo­ple’s scream­ing chil­dren.

Or the stranger seated next to me who asks why I missed that three-footer on TV.

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