Editors' ChoiceApril 19, 2016

Best Private Aviation


Player selfies from private jets have become a trend on social media—especially after majors. Zach Johnson's caddie posted from a Gulfstream V while flying home from the Open Championship last summer with Johnson and Jordan Spieth, sipping from the claret jug. There are two companies sharing the most airspace in the game. NetJets leads in player headcount and size of fleet—it's the fourth-largest airline in the world, including commercial aircraft—and Wheels Up has gained altitude since its 2013 startup by focusing on legs of three hours or less in the United States. "Wheels Up, for me, is in a way part of my equipment," Rickie Fowler says in a YouTube video. "It makes the travel more efficient." Admittedly, our editors don't spend a lot of time in executive jets, so in this category we rely on our pals on the PGA Tour who fly private like we take Uber. The best advertisement for why more players are avoiding commercial air travel was Martin Kaymer sitting cross-legged on the floor of Jacksonville International Airport, scrolling through his phone 24 hours after collecting $1.8 million for winning the Players Championship in 2014.

Besides catering, avoiding most of the airport security and not worrying about the tour bag getting to its proper destination, plus free Wi-Fi, flying private could lead to endorsement contracts, as is the case with the Johnsons (Zach and Dustin), Jason Day and Jim Furyk wearing the logo and flying with NetJets. Fowler, Graeme McDowell, Kevin Kisner, Branden Grace and Bernhard Langer fly with and endorse Wheels Up. Costs vary per hour depending on how many hours are purchased and the type of marketing relationship that is involved. Entry point for a tour player at NetJets starts at $150,000 for 25 hours of flight time on an entry-level jet. Players such as Spieth, Day and Dustin Johnson fly anywhere from 50 to more than 100 hours worldwide per year.

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