Birdies and eagles? How about seaplanes?
As traffic to the East End continues to be a mess for those intent on making it to the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, some golf fans are taking to the skies. And the seas, for that matter.
Blade, a charter airplane and helicopter company based in New York City, is offering one-way flights via seaplane from Manhattan to Sebonac Point in Southampton — a 35-minute flight, compared to the multiple hours it’s taking city residents to get to the U.S. Open.
Convenience doesn’t come cheap — it’s $795 one way per person — but that hasn’t seemed to hurt business. After the first day of play at the U.S. Open Thursday, all seats were sold out.. There’s a waitlist option, as well.
“We’re moving quite a few people,” Blade general manager Evan Licht said. “Interest in flights on both sides [Manhattan and Southampton] has been extremely high. It’s catering to everybody — the casual golf fan that’s excited about the Open, the rabid fan that hasn’t missed one, and people who may or may not have been on their way to the Hamptons anyway and want to stop at the Open.”
The seaplane takes off from the East 23rd Street marina, and holds eight passengers, Licht said. There are two flights every day — leaving Manhattan at 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Upon landing, it’s a five-minute drive to the course and for those purchasing an upgraded package, the drive comes via luxury SUV. For $2,595, passengers can purchase a round-trip ticket, plus ground transportation, entrance to the U.S. Open, concierge service and a souvenir (this comes through a partnership with Prime Sport, a USGA sponsor, Licht said).
The company also offers helicopter flights from the city to the Southampton Heliport — about 20 minutes from Shinnecock Hills without traffic, and Licht theorized that some golf fans are probably using that option as well.
The Del Ducas of Philadelphia took advantage of Blade’s seaplane flights to the U.S. Open.
“We went to a U2 concert in Philadelphia [Thursday] and if we drove, we would have had to drive up [Friday] morning,” said Maureen Del Duca.
She said she flies to the Hamptons via helicopter about five times a summer, but this was her first seaplane experience.
“It was very good,” she said. “The seaplane was 100 percent more convenient and spared us from the traffic.”
Del Duca said she and her husband, Chris, are “100 percent” golf fans and belong to a golf club near their home. They initially thought they were coming to root on Jordan Spieth, who had a rough first round with an 8-over 80. Dustin Johnson was 3-under 67 in his second round and was the clubhouse leader at 4-under for the tournament on Friday afternoon.
“So Dustin Johnson,” Maureen said. “He’s doing very well. We’ll cheer for him.”