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The golfing good life, because no man is promised tomorrow

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

Pacific DunesBill Hogan is in the golf package business, but it is not what you think. He's not out to broker some bargain basement deal predicated on 36 holes a day and a free breakfast in some over-saturated golf destination. His mission in life is to insert you into the golf trip of your dreams.

Golf and wine in the Monterey Peninsula? Not a problem. A loop at the Old Course and a healthy dose of single malt Scotch? Surely you requiresomething more. Nothing is off limits or out of the question when bookingvia Hogan and his golf tour company, Wide World of Golf.

In fact, Hogan has golf trips you'd be hard pressed to fabricate. To wit, inthe words of WWG's literature, the most elaborate 12-day golf tour everdesigned. It goes a little something like this:

You and yours board a private jet from anywhere in the contiguous 48 and flyto Oregon for a twin bill featuring two of the world's most talked about newcourses, Bandon and Pacific Dunes. Relaxation is of the essence, so massagesare handed out upon arrival. Following golf, your group is flown-in for aprivate wine tasting of the award-winning Pinot Noir wines of the WillametteValley.

Manele Bay Hotel, LanaiNext, it's on to the Manele Bay Hotel on Lanai for two nights of ocean frontHawaii "suite life", rounds of golf at The Challenge atManele Bay and TheExperience at Koele. Throw in massages, meals, and private parties at thebeach and you're still not halfway through this tilt.

The Bay of Islands if New Zealand will be your next stop for three nights atthe Kauri Cliffs Lodge. Again, the non-golf slate is full: massages, a fullday of big-game fishing on a private chartered yacht, a side trip to LakeTaupo for a day of trout fishing with a private guide and fly fishingteacher, and wine-pairing dinner at the world renowned Huka Lodge.

Spyglass Hill Golf CourseThe morning round comes courtesy of (gasp) Kauri Cliffs and finishes up justin time to board the private jet for the flight to the "MP" and afternoonrounds at Pebble Beach. Your group's final three days are spent at the Lodgeat Pebble Beach sampling vino and eating like kings. Thrown in for goodmeasure are "thanks for coming" rounds at Clint Eastwood's ultra-exclusiveTehama Golf Club and Spyglass Hill GolfClub in Pebble Beach.

Price: $80,400 per person double occupancy, based on four persons travelingtogether.

Any takers?

"I have had some high profile people take that trip, but I am not at libertyto give out their names," Hogan says. "They are in positions of power andsit on panels and boards that might not be too thrilled to learn about bigexpenditures on golf fantasies."

Clandestine travelers aside, Hogan insists his client list doesn't read likea who's who from the upper crust menu of America.

"Actually only about one third of our customers are the rich and famoustype, and another third are middle of the road," he says. "With the adventof the baby boomer traveler, we offer a wide range of less expensiveproducts. You know how Mercedes Benz has a $30,000 C-class vehicle? We applythe same kind of entry level product, with the intent to get them hooked atyoung age, and some day they may develop into the rich and famous type."

Hogan and WWG have the patience and wherewithal to wait for this level ofeconomic development in their clients. The company was founded in 1957 byMike Roseto, an influential member of the storied Olympic Club in SanFrancisco. Hogan came to the company from United Airlines 16 years ago andhas been keeping duffers mach turtleneck deep in dream golf trips eversince.

"My father had taken a WWG tour overseas and my interest peaked at thethought of a career in golf and travel," Hogan says. "I mean, how good wouldthat be, taking your two passions and combining them into a job? They hadan opening at the time so I applied and got it. And here I am today in theCarmel (Calif.) office, as president, sixteen years later."

Sixteen years later and Hogan remains enamored with WWG's unofficial motto:any course, any place, any time.

"Most operators concentrate on one or two regions around the world, whereaswe have a menu of tours and packages all around the globe," he says. "Ourtheory is that this year a customer may want Scotland, next year Ireland,but then California, SouthAfrica, or New Zealand. Also, we are notinterested in moving a huge tonnage of people on cookie cutter packages. Ourniche is custom, high quality travel offers for small, intimate groups."

It just so happens some of these groups include some of the most powerfulpeople in the world. Suffice it to say, Hogan could partake in some seriousname dropping. Jeff Crowe, cousin of Academy Award winning actor RussellCrowe, is Wide World's local representative in New Zealand. While Hogan ismum on the subject, the smart money says the Gladiator has tested his mettleon a WWG outing.

"The thing is, the golf gods don't care if you've won an Oscar, pitched ano-hitter or taken 15 companies public," Hogan says. "When it comes down toit, most are pretty regular people when it comes to golf. Sure, they may flyin their Falcon 900 or custom G5 (jets) and like to stay in suites, but theyare just like you and me when it comes to a $5 Nassau. They still want towin the bet, enjoy a cold beer after the round, and always think they couldhave played better."

Just like you and me.

For more information on Wide World of Golf and its array of dream golf vacations, log on to www.wideworldofgolf.com.

Shane SharpShane Sharp, Contributor

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of TravelGolf.com from 1997 to 2003.


 
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