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Luxury Golf Tours

Robert Lowell
From the Print Edition:
Air Sick, Jul/Aug 02

(continued from page 2)

For those so fortunate as to own a private plane, golf touring companies can design and facilitate every part of the ground experience. Gordon Dalgleish of PerryGolf in Atlanta has designed several tours for jet owners. He has been working on a trip for members of a prominent Northeastern club who have the benefit of two private jets.

Nothing was quite so large as a trip Dalgleish helped coordinate last summer, when hockey super-agent Don Meehan of Toronto decided to treat his family, valued clients and even a few general managers and coaches to a golf trip. Meehan took 106 people on a golf tour of Ireland and Scotland, hiring the Phoenix Coyotes' Boeing 757 jet. "I had been very fortunate in the stock market," says Meehan. While the cost was not disclosed, you can figure at least one million bucks for this trip.

Meehan used his 50th birthday as an excuse, and gathered everyone at a private terminal to begin the journey. Among the amenities that PerryGolf arranged for the Meehan tour were bagpipers at the departure terminal and throughout the trip.

The grand entourage flew to Luechars Air Force Base just north of St. Andrews, Scotland. The group took over a good share of the Old Course Hotel and for three days played the Old Course at St. Andrews, the Carnoustie Links and Kingsbarns. From there they flew to Killarney, Ireland, the base of play for three courses. Because they had the private jet, they could all fly together into Kerry Airport, a small facility for commercial puddle jumpers and private craft. In Ireland they played Ballybunion, Tralee and the Old Head Golf Links.

"The people at PerryGolf really put together a wonderful program of golf and entertainment," says Meehan. "But this trip wouldn't have been possible without getting a chartered plane. It would have been difficult to coordinate everyone's travel needs from all parts of [North America] to an overseas destination. This way they only had to get to Toronto and everything was taken care of from there. No one had to pay a dime. Golf, caddies, food -- everything was paid for. It was fantastic. I don't think I could ever duplicate it."

The events of September 11 put a damper on the golf travel industry, though tour operators see business coming back. Golfers need their fix, after all. And increasingly, those who can afford it are turning to private jets as their transportation of choice. "There's no question that if you want to go to a lot of places in a short period of time, the private jet is everything," said Dalgleish. "It certainly is a luxurious way to go, but for many people it's about time. The jet allows you to do more in less time, and to change plans or destinations a lot easier."

From intimate getaways to grand tours, the private jet offers the ultimate in golf travel: freedom. It costs a pretty penny or two, but for those who can afford it there is no better way to get somewhere quickly and comfortably. "It's a lot of money," says Ummel of Jet Golf. "But we also think there's a lot of value."

Robert Lowell is a freelance writer based in New York.

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