WHEN you’re one of the world’s biggest global sporting superstars, it pays to have a nice set of wheels.
Golfing millionaire Tiger Woods has “parked” his nearly new Gulfstream private jet on the apron at Edinburgh Airport while he prepares to challenge for the claret jug in the Open at Muirfield this weekend.
While most 37-year-olds have to settle for a people carrier to ferry their kids around, the Nike-backed tournament favourite proved he knows how to travel in style when his 2008 £39 million G5 jet – call sign N517QS – touched down at the start of the week.
Bought in 2008, it is registered to his GTW Corp company and $60m estate in Jupiter, Florida, which he now shares with new girlfriend Lindsey Vonn, a 28-year-old skier. He set up home at the 10,000 square ft mega mansion after divorcing from former swimwear model and wife-of-five years Elin Nordegren, 33, after a series of affairs were exposed.
An aviation industry insider said the jet has been joined by various other sleek craft, creating one of the world’s most exclusive, expensive and desirable parking lots.
He said: “That’s the way these guys roll. Woods owns his jet outright, which is pretty unusual, but then he’s in the ‘mega wealthy’ category. The apron at the airport is packed with US-registered private jets – all of them here because of the golf. It really is a rich man’s toy, but the only way to travel for the elite.”
Big name celebrities rumoured to be flying in to take in the spectacle include chart star Justin Timberlake, 32, Pulp Fiction actor Samuel L Jackson, 64, and Four Weddings pin-up Hugh Grant, 52.
A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council said the event – which has an estimated global TV reach of 500m households – will generate £70m for the local economy.
And a lot of that is down to the legendary event’s celebrity stardust. She said: “Over the years we’ve had many stars at the Open, including Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas, Alice Cooper, and, of course, Bruce Forsyth. Many of them return for every competition. We never know in advance who will be coming, but we expect we’ll be seeing quite a few famous faces over the next few days.”
With the world’s media and spectators joining A-listers to boost the area’s population by around 170-200,000, bed space, however, is scarce.
Our Lothian-based private charter pilot said many celebs will be coming in from outside the area. He said: “I’ve been booked to fly a lot in from Ireland and London. People, even the Open’s most famous followers, are struggling to find beds.”
It is understood all local hotels, B&Bs and guest houses are completely full, with nearby Archerfield House, whose Marine Villa comes in at £1850 a night, confirming their on-site accommodation was booked up a year in advance.
Meanwhile, staff at The Goblin Ha’ Hotel in Gifford, 14 miles away from Muirfield, recently had to explain to a group of wealthy industrialists booking in for the week that the £90 a night hotel did not have helipad access.
Edinburgh hotels are also feeling the benefit, with The Balmoral and The Caledonian Waldorf Astoria also fully booked.
Stars already in town for the event include rap star Snoop Doggy Dogg, left, who is said to have checked in to the Radisson Blu in Edinburgh city centre on Sunday.