UN­DER­COVER TOUR PRO

High stakes: A guide to pri­vate-jet life

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

A guide to pri­vate-jet life.

“At roughly $5 000 per hour, it makes sense to share.”

Igrew up in a big fam­ily. Va­ca­tions were al­ways to places we could drive. My par­ents weren’t in a po­si­tion to fork over round-trip air­fares for us all.The rst time I ew was in high school, for a fu­neral, and I re­mem­ber my dad go­ing through the rig­ma­role of ob­tain­ing the death certi cate for the air­line so we could get the dis­counted rate. When I was get­ting started in my pro ca­reer, I sat through my share of ma­jor air­port de­lays and slept crookedly on plenty of red-eyes after miss­ing in Mon­day quali ers. I men­tion this only as a pre­am­ble for the fol­low­ing state­ment, which I know will sound ridicu­lous to most peo­ple: Shar­ing a pri­vate jet is a great way to get to know another golfer.

At tour­na­ments, each of us is in “go mode.” The course is the stage where we com­pete, and o the course gets to be a kind of stage, too. Around the club­house and the ho­tel, out to din­ner, all the spon­sors and deal-mak­ers hover in the lit­tle sched­ule of func­tions.You might in­ter­act with another player, but of­ten in forced sit­u­a­tions. Like, you’re both wired for sound and peo­ple are lm­ing you.

You and that player, how­ever, sink­ing back into ne-leather chairs up in the clouds and en­joy­ing a bev­er­age, you couldn’t be any fur­ther above it all. There’s the chance to re­ally get to know the per­son be­hind the brand.And it might be some­one whom you’d oth­er­wise never seek out.

One year at the WGC-Match Play, when it was still out­side Tuc­son and the for­mat was sin­gle-elim­i­na­tion, I lost early. Im­me­di­ately after the hand­shake – as in, be­fore I even put my put­ter back in the bag – I take out my phone and call my guy who han­dles ights for a lot of the play­ers. How soon could he get me home? Our deal is, sched­ule a ight more than 10 hours in ad­vance, and you set the terms. Less than that, you take what’s avail­able.At roughly $5 000 per hour, it makes sense to share as much as you can.

To get out that af­ter­noon, my only op­tion was to share with a golfer who is, shall we say, known as a pres­ence on the Euro­pean Ry­der Cup team. Maybe be­cause I’m Amer­i­can, maybe be­cause I just as­sumed our per­son­al­i­ties would clash, I’d never said more than two words to the guy. I’ve never laughed harder. What a funny and gen­uine per­son this English­man re­vealed him­self to be. Our kids are roughly the same age. Now when we see each other at tour­na­ments, we al­ways ex­change a warm greet­ing.

It’s not of­ten that play­ers refuse to y to­gether, but when they do, the rea­sons are un­der­stand­able. When you’re pay­ing pre­mium, maybe you don’t want to y with a guy who’s bring­ing his new­born, or pet, or with a group that’s go­ing to get rowdy when all you want to do is sleep.

I know it can be a chess game for the op­er­a­tors: con­stantly up­dat­ing who’s let­ting his cad­die or en­tourage hop on, be­ing sen­si­tive to which play­ers might not be on friendly terms, and lay­ing that all against the Sun­day tee times to get ev­ery­one home or to the next tour­na­ment cost-e ciently.And on top of that, the play­ers who are en­dorsed by the jet com­pany have pri­or­ity. I y with NetJets and Wheels Up, but the logo of one is stitched onto ev­ery golf shirt I own. It’s use­ful for me to have ac­tive ac­counts at both to in­crease my ride-shar­ing ex­i­bil­ity.

Some play­ers let their man­ager han­dle their travel de­tails, but I like to know ex­actly what’s go­ing on. If it’s a Fri­day and there’s a good chance I’m miss­ing the cut, I’ll beckon my man­ager to the rope and give him in­struc­tions to make

ight ar­range­ments. I don’t want to put him in the po­si­tion of mak­ing that guess.And if I birdie in, it’s no big deal be­cause I don’t get pe­nalised for can­cel­la­tions.

En route to the last Pres­i­dents Cup, I heard Pa­trick Reed and Hideki Mat­suyama had to y to NewYork to­gether. No word if they hit it o , but given the tim­ing, I’d bet it was a silent light.

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