- Ski, fish, play drums? You can learn how at the feet of the stars
- In games with NBA pros you won't be taunted, but welcomed to the team
- Poker legends Joe Hachem and Tom McEvoy share secrets
- You can book a golf lesson with ex-Tiger Woods coach Butch Harmon
We're all know the saying "to be the best, you've got to learn from the best."
And while it might be true that there are plenty of quality regular people out there who can help you refine your game -- ski, fish, dunk, bluff, drive -- it's nice to get instruction from a legit superstar of the craft.
But book a session with a big name -- an Olympic hero, a Bassmaster Classic champ, an NBA star, a World Series of Poker bracelet winner, a NASCAR legend -- and it's not (let's face it) just about improving.
It's about luxuriating in the experience of doing something -- anything -- under the tutelage of a famous, field-tested elite.
And, yeah, picking up your game a notch, too, and with you'll never believe who ...
Ski with Tommy Moe (Jackson Hole, Wyoming)
In 1994, Olympian Tommy Moe made history by becoming the first U.S. alpine skier to win two medals (a gold and silver) in the same Winter Games -- before he had a Super Nintendo game named after him.
Today, when he's not running rivers or guiding heli-skiing trips in Alaska, Moe avails himself to the intermediate-to-expert skiing public at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort as a Ski Ambassador.
For half or full days, groups of up to five can arrange for Moe himself to whisk them to some of his favorite spots on the hill.
Included in the deal: field-tested Olympian ski tips and answers to all those pressing questions only a genial Super-G champion can answer, e.g. What's it feel like doing this at over 75 mph?
Fantasy Sports Camp with Deion Sanders, Walt Frazier, others
Maybe the Cowboys, Pirates and Knicks have missed out on your athletic services, but that doesn't mean you can't scrimmage with some of the finest former pros who've worn their colors.
Customized Fantasy Sports Camps (coordinated by unique experiences specialist Goviva) have put together flag football games with Deion Sanders and Jerome Bettis, hosted by ESPN personalities Mike and Mike; basketball workshops with Walt Frazier, Alex English and other former NBA stars; and opportunities to play in places like the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, Madison Square Garden in New York and PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
Most fantasy camps can run up to three days for groups of 10 to 20, and include interactive game instruction as well as actual game play with pros who aren't here to tackle or taunt you -- but welcome you to the team.
Richard Petty Driving Experience
You can sit behind the wheel of a 600-horsepower race car, log lap after blurry lap at an official racing track and then get direct feedback from NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty.
Even if your name isn't Ricky Bobby, that's a pretty sweet ride.
The Richard Petty Driving Experience offers several stock car racing experiences at hallowed ovals around the country -- from shotgun ride-alongs with expert drivers to a "rookie experience" that lets racing wannabes do eight laps in the driver's seat of a NASCAR vehicle.
The premier program -- Richard Petty Fantasy Racing Camp -- is a multi-day event held at revolving locations (next up: Charlotte, North Carolina, in October 2013) that lets groups of 10 to 12 people take hundreds of laps behind the wheel with the King himself, as well as fellow NASCAR legends like Dale Inman and Randy Lajoie, in attendance.
Texas Hold'em with Joe Hachem and Friends
"We will teach you to win like us."
So says the WSOP Academy (the official poker school of the World Series of Poker), whose roster of pro instructors has collectively pooled more than $20 million in winnings, and includes bracelet winners Joe Hachem, Greg Raymer and Tom McEvoy.
Held on select dates at several metro areas around the United States, the WSOP's curriculum of classes for every skill level includes its flagship, two-day No Limit Hold'em Tournament Academy (featuring proven tournament tactics taught by poker stars), a Live Hand Analysis class (designed to find and fix your weak spots) and a Cash Game Academy for when you're ready to turn this all into your day job.
Recent alumni have included a 2011 WSOP Seniors Event bracelet winner, a 2010 WSOP event second place finisher ($375,627) and several people cleaning up back home at their neighborhood poker nights.
Bass Fish with Paul Elias (Pachuta, Mississippi)
Competitive bass fishing groupies need no introduction to Bassmaster Classic champ Paul Elias, who's logged nearly three decades of wins and Top 10 finishes on the elite circuit.
Pros and amateur weekend anglers alike can glean one-on-one insights from the legend himself during single- or two-day private structure fishing classes on 780-acre Lake Eddins, Elias' bass-filled home waters in eastern Mississippi, near Meridian.
Map reading, lure-gear-and-bait selection and effective GPS use all factor into the customized open lake curriculum.
Classes center on structure-fishing techniques, but can also include lessons on flippin' and pitchin', top water and shallow swim baits -- and if terms like these are already too familiar to you, you're ahead of the game.
Elias provides the tackle, but feel free to bring your own.
Room and meals included.
Golf with Butch Harmon (Las Vegas)
Butch Harmon coached Tiger Woods for years and has helped other huge names in the sport (or just plain huge names, including five American presidents) analyze and improve their games.
Attend an intensive multi-day golf clinic at The Butch Harmon School of Golf's state of the art facility and you can take your own game to the next level in the company of Harmon himself -- no green jacket or Air Force One reservation required.
Three days of instruction with Harmon and his staff (two-day clinics are available, too) include nine-hole and 18-hole lessons at Rio Secco and Cascata Golf Clubs, video swing analysis and four nights at Caesars Palace on the Vegas Strip.
You'll be covering long and short irons, wedge and sand shots, trouble shots, chipping, putting and why, in Harmon's words, "Many people play golf, but few truly understand it."
Adventure Photography with Tyler Stableford
Tapped as one of Canon's distinguished "Explorers of Light" and Men's Journal's seven "World's Greatest Adventure Photographers," Aspen, Colorado-based photographer and cinematographer Tyler Stableford is a master of capturing humans of all kinds in their element.
Cowboys on horses.
Skiers in midair.
Fighter pilots in jets.
Roughnecks on rigs.
Where can you catch up with an award-winning, page-stopping action photog for National Geographic, Outside, Sports Illustrated, The North Face campaigns and beyond?
At a personalized photography seminar catering to small-ish groups inspired to take better shots of interesting people in beautiful places.
Stableford's multi-day Canon Destination Workshops have taken place in Utah's Moab, Arizona's Mesa Verde and Maine's Bar Harbor.
Next stop: Maroon Bells, Colorado, in October 2014.
Drum with Chad/Steve Smith (New York)
OK, so maybe you won't be Keith Moon in this lifetime.
That's not an entirely bad thing, and it doesn't mean you can't meet up with a famous living drummer in New York to briefly pretend.
Housed in a new facility in Chelsea with a separate wing dedicated solely to drum instruction, the Collective School of Music (formerly The Drummers Collective) offers short- and long-term programs focusing on contemporary rhythm music performance.
But if you just want an hour or two with some big-name drummer, you can hook up for a master class or private lesson.
The Collective's recent roster of guest teacher names -- Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Steve Smith (Journey), Will Calhoun (Living Colour) and others -- may be exactly the quick boost your fantasy drumming career needs.
Kung Fu with Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming (Miranda, California)
Master instructor and acclaimed author, Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, is a leading authority in the world of kung fu, tai chi chuan and qigong -- and has been named by Inside Kung Fu magazine as one of the most important teachers and practitioners of martial arts in the last century.
A variety of short- or longer-term summer seminars at his YMAA Retreat Center, located in the hills of Northern California's Humboldt County, cover kung fu, tajiquan, quiqong and other specialized martial arts topics under Dr. Yang's direct instruction in a remote (i.e. ideal) setting for training.
Private one-on-one hour sessions with Dr. Yang can be arranged, with advance notice.
Motorcycle Race with Jason Pridmore (Buena Park, California)
Handling a sport bike -- at insane track speeds or in comparably crazy road traffic -- takes guts, confidence and (hopefully not too hard-earned) experience.
Track or street riders looking to raise their speed and safety quotients (simultaneously!) can take riding lessons from one of the best in the business -- AMA Supersport champion Jason Pridmore.
Headquartered at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway, Pridmore's long-running STAR Motorcycle School (Skills and Techniques of Advanced Riding) employs a staff of pro riders who also visit several other tracks around the country during the warmer months -- including Minneapolis's Brainerd International Raceway, Illinois' Blackhawk Farms Raceway and New Jersey's Motorsports Park.
Two-day group schools are divided into street riders eager to build on their road skills and track riders looking to improve their lower-body steering techniques and explore their limits.
You can also sign up for a one-on-one with Pridmore for a private videoed session you can one day show your grandkids.