By Ron Kroichick, Sports Columnist/Feature Writer for the San Francisco Chronicle
Let’s face it: The Masters almost never disappoints.
This stretches beyond, say, the 1997 edition, when young Tiger Woods made history with his landmark victory. Consider five years ago, when Bubba Watson memorably curved a shot out of the forest to prevail in a playoff.
Or two years ago, when Jordan Spieth – not quite as young as Woods in ’97, but close – launched his riveting run at the Grand Slam. Or the year after, when Spieth collapsed on the back nine on Sunday and unheralded Englishman Danny Willett slipped his arms into the green jacket.
Few marquee sporting events perpetually produce great theater the way the Masters does, and XOJET can take you there – right to Augusta Regional Airport at Bush Field, only 13 miles from the course.
Anticipation for the Masters builds all winter, as golf slowly emerges from hibernation and winds its way to the azaleas and pines of eastern Georgia. Augusta National is part of the tournament’s allure, not only for the picturesque setting but also for the cool, thrill-seeking stage it provides.
The course favors power hitters and those with creativity around the greens. Augusta also lends itself to final-round excitement, with two reachable par-5s (Nos. 13 and 15) and a potential birdie hole (No. 16) coming down the stretch.
There also are plenty of treacherous holes, as Spieth learned all too well last year. But the magic of the Masters, set for April 6-9 this year, includes a powerful sense of history. These are the same fairways Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson once walked … and Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus … and Woods and Phil Mickelson.
Now, here in 2017, who will win the year’s first major?
If you’re traveling to Augusta, this all-encompassing guide will help you find out in style:
March Madness resonates with American sports fans because it’s authentic. Just picture the faces of college basketball players if their “bubble team” is selected for the NCAA Tournament – a captivating mix of wonder, exhilaration, and sheer joy.
Then the games begin, and so does the theater.
This year’s journey culminates April 1 and 3 with the Final Four in Glendale, Arizona. But the road to the desert begins in nine scattered cities March 16-19 and advances through four more venues March 23-26.
Along the way, the customary drama will unfold, from epic upsets to improbable, last-second shots. Every tournament matchup carries a distinctive brand of urgency—akin to Game 7 of an NBA playoff series—and XOJET follows suit to offer seamless private charters to every single game from 1 to 67 (see below for a full list of host cities, including recommended airports).
No matter who wins this year’s World Series, it’s going to be one rollicking party.
Baseball’s annual Fall Classic drips with a distinctive brand of history in 2016. The Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians share a common bond, through decades of ineptitude – all forgiven now, because they both stand one step from the mountaintop.
But those long years of losing offer context to this year’s Series, starting October 25th in Cleveland. These are two of the sport’s oldest franchises, dating to 1876 for the Cubs (when they were known as the Chicago White Stockings) and 1901 for the Indians (then the Cleveland Blues). All this history, so little joy – that explains why Chicago and Cleveland are bursting at their seams in excitement.
If there’s a common thread to the destinations on this list – ten great golf courses only accessible (or more easily accessible) by private jet – it’s probably this: An inviting, middle-of-nowhere flavor, safely removed from civilization as we know it.
I’ve covered nearly 40 major championships over the years, and countless other big events, and idle chatter among tour pros and writers often veers toward tantalizing golf escapes. The design of the course matters – it takes a deft touch to seamlessly carve a challenging layout into the land – and so does the environment, ideally a mix of invigorating scenery and welcome tranquility.
The U.S. Open offers a distinctive blend of sporting urgency and big-city entertainment. It’s the season’s final Grand Slam event, so the world’s top players are eager to make one last splash and etch their name into tennis lore.
And really, there’s no better place to make a memorable splash than the Big Apple, with its uniquely bustling, eclectic aura. The crowds invariably include all manner of fans, from the dignified to the, uh, loud. A friend who has covered many Opens calls them a “great conglomeration of humanity,” in which conventional boundaries take a holiday.
This was most evident in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, when John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors practically traded the men’s title (they combined to win seven straight, from 1978 through ’84) and spectators occasionally shouted in the middle of a player’s serve. That’s certainly excessive, but it speaks to the passionate and boisterous setting in the United States’ largest, sports-crazed metropolis.