Stirk aims to make golfing dreams come true
How much would you pay for a round of golf with Rory McIlroy? Twenty thousand dollars? A $100,000?
How about walking the pit lane and meeting the drivers at a Formula One race? Or, playing football at White Hart Lane, the home of Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur?
For the right price, journalist and entrepreneur Sarah Stirk can make your sporting dreams come true. The face of Sky Sports’ golf coverage in England, and founder of bespoke travel company, Xclusive Golf, Ms Stirk, aims to provide ‘money can’t buy experiences’.
Except that now you can.
“We have an Australian client who we have organised a VIP day for at Tottenham’s last home game of the season,” she said. “It’s costing an arm and a leg, but he’ll get to go on the pitch with some players, meet the chairman, the manager, it’s a good package.
“Another client with a budget of £20,000 is sending her husband to caddie at the par 3 event at the Masters for his 50th birthday.”
For Ms Stirk it’s all about providing that wow factor. “If you’ve got the money, and you want an experience, that’s what we provide.”
Officially a seven handicapper, Ms Stirk didn’t discover golf until her 20s. By that time she’d already had a promising tennis career ended by a serious shoulder injury, and decided that if she wasn’t going to be able to make a living playing at the highest level, she might as well ‘make one talking about it’.
Jobs at Manchester United TV, the BBC, and currently, Sky followed. The host of the cable channel’s European and PGA Tour coverage, a job she calls ‘full on’, her travel company was born when she spotted a gap in the market providing ‘experiences all golfers aspire to’. That can be everything from playing at the private club you wouldn’t normally be allowed in to, to playing with a tour pro, or in a high-profile ProAm event.
“I think travel nowadays is everything to do with experience,” she said. “Golfers are normally quite wealthy, quite affluent, they love having their perfect day on the golf course, and around that there are so many experiences that golfers aspire to, but that are not always easy to get.
“I spotted the gap in the market and obviously, with what I do with Sky, I’ve got pretty good connections in the golf world. So, it’s pretty much, anything you want to do with a golfer, we can basically make happen.
“It comes at a price. If you want to play a round with Rory McIlroy, we can do it, but it’s going to cost you an absolutely fortune.”
Of all the places that Ms Stirk’s career has taken her, Bermuda has yet to appear on the list. But, that changes tomorrow when she arrives as a member of the celebrity team for the Hackers Cup, which will be played at Tucker’s Point, and Point Royal, on Wednesday, and Thursday.
She already has some idea what to expect, however. Tony Jacklin, who was in Bermuda for last month’s Bacardi Par 3 event, worked with her in Morocco at a European Tour event recently, and was singing the Island’s praises. “He told me that he stayed at the Fairmont Southampton, and said ‘you’ll have a great time’.”
Although this is her first visit to the Island, Ms Stirk is hoping it won’t be her last. Among the many hats she wears is that of the host of Planet Golf a Travel Channel series which has already taken her to Cyprus, Canada, Wales, and Italy.
“I produce and present a golf travel show for Travel Channel,” she said. “We want to try and pitch this to the Bermuda Tourism Board, and hopefully we can do a full travel programme on Bermuda.”
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