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Traveling With Your Clubs

Aug. 5, 2008     By     Comments (11)

Flying with your golf clubs doesn't have to be a big pain if you have the right equipment.

Bag DropFlying commercial today can be about as much fun as a root canal. Between all the security measures, smaller flying capacity from the airlines left that aren't bankrupt, and the lack of service as well as being nickel-and-dimed to death from all the "fees," it truly has lost its luster from just a few years ago (remember hot meals, anyone?).

Bringing your golf clubs can be a pain. Don't get me wrong, the excitement of going on a golf trip can help temper the hassle of getting your clubs loaded up in your travel bag and then dragging it through the airport and then hoping that some baggage handler doesn't either test your bag's limits of abuse or you experience the dreaded lost or delayed luggage scenarios that will completely ruin your golfing experience.

I just got back from flying the friendly skies, so follow along as I share some musings that hopefully make traveling with one's clubs a bit more enjoyable.

Just Ship It
Skip the airlines entirely and ship your bag to your hotel or golfing destination. While there are various companies out there that specialize in shipping clubs, cut out the middleman and go directly to the big guys like FedEx, UPS, DHL, and the USPS. As long as you allow some extra time for shipping you can save a few bucks while using their ground services as opposed to waiting until the last minute and having to use overnight or air. Make sure you add some insurance to cover the entire contents of your bag such as rain suit, golf balls, shoes, bag, and travel bag.

Rent 'Em
If you're only going to get to sneak in one round during a business trip or aren't too particular about the clubs you use, you can always rent from the course. This typically doesn't cost too much but often times the rentals are less than to be desired so it may pay to call ahead to find out what the course has to offer. Several of the nicer courses I've played had complete sets from the major manufacturers so it may give you an opportunity to try out some newer equipment.

Hard Case vs. Soft Case
You've decided on bringing your clubs but now have to decide what kind of travel case you want to buy. Let me offer a bit of advice: don't skimp. Sure, you can get a travel case for around $50 but I'm guessing you've spend a decent chunk of change on your clubs and bag so why ruin your investment by going cheap on your travel bag? No one likes to dump a couple hundred bucks on a bag that you may only use once or twice a year but think of it as a mutual fund. It's something you'll hold onto for a long period of time.

Prior to this year, I've used a hard shell case for my travels. It protected my clubs nicely but it is a bit of pain to lug that heavy thing around the airport. In addition, make sure you have a rental car that has a large enough trunk to handle it as they take up quite a bit of room. Nothing worse than trying to cram that into the back of a "intermediate" sized car as well as the rest of your luggage. And if you have a few additional golf buddies with you?

This year I was fortunate enough to try out a ClubGlider and, having gone through its maiden voyage last week, my hard case is up for sale. If you haven't checked out the ClubGlider yet, do so now. Now. It was so incredibly easy to walk through from the parking lot and around the airport and was actually easier to control than my other luggage. The best word to describe it is smooth. If you travel and like to bring your clubs along, you are doing a disservice not to give this bad boy a try.

ClubGlider

Whatever you decide to do, try them around the golf shop before you buy so you can test the ease (or lack thereof) of mobility as well as storage pockets for shoes, clothes and whatever else you think you'll need for your trip.

Other Accessories
Protecting forged irons is a must as they can take a bit of a pounding when making their way through the baggage claim system. I don't mind a little "bag chatter" to show some character but I don't want large chunks missing either.

I opted to be Mr. Cheapo and just wrapped them up with some bubble wrap I had lying around the house. Next time, I'm leaving the bubble wrap at home and opting for some neoprene iron covers that I can just store in my travel bag when not in use (I'm not going to use them on a course, but that's for another discussion!).

Another item I opted not to get due to time constraints that I luckily I didn't have to rely on was the Stiff Arm by Club Glove. I like the added protection but think the same thing can be accomplished by using a broom handle and a toilet plunger (if you've used this method, post in the comments and let me know how it went).

Finally, get a TSA recognized lock to keep your clubs from wandering off when not in your control. It will also prevent your lock from having to be cut off if you bag gets searched.

One other travel tip is to make sure your clubs are covered under your homeowner's insurance policy in the event of their disappearance. Check with your agent to make sure you have adequate coverage.

Also, bring a little extra cash along as airlines are now charging for multiple checked bags as well as tacking on fees based on weight. If possible, just check your golf bag and you will save enough to buy an extra dozen of golf balls.

Final Thoughts
Flying with your golf clubs can be a pain but hopefully by planning ahead and having the proper travel equipment, you'll spend less time worrying about your clubs and more time enjoying your rounds of golf.

Posted in: Bag Drop Comments (11)

Discussion

  1. davechen says:

    I recently rented clubs at a nice course. They gave me a complete set of Titleist clubs. All the clubs were top of the line, except the putter. It was a Titleist Bullseye putter with a completely different feel from my Odyssey mallet. I had no feel at all on the greens. I should have brought my own putter.

  2. Javaman says:

    I travel all the time with my clubs and if you have a soft sided travel case let me suggest the following:

    Take a long wooden rod (longer than your driver, but short enough to fit in your travel bag) and then tape a roll of toilet paper to the top of the rod. Place this in the bag, and then if someone drops your bag on it's head, the wooden rod takes the blow, not your new driver!

  3. Trav says:

    I only travel with an older set of clubs that work fine - and almost always better than a rental set because they're fit for me and I feel comfortable with them - and won't cause extreme heartburn if damaged. (Admit it, you have at least an extra set stored away that you still think of fondly and can't bring yourself to put on eBay). If you're playing a resort course you don't even know, and which may be in irregular condition, you're playing for fun, not the perfect score.

    If you're going to play only once, I agree it's wise to look into rentals vs. travel fees/inconvenience, but I have had poor experiences with incomplete sets, ill-fitting clubs (even if in good condition), etc.

  4. bobsuruncle says:

    I've done some work for an airport and got to see the abuse the luggage takes when loaded and unloaded. Everyone should travel with hardcase luggage and this would apply especially to your golf clubs. The ClubGlider looks the trick and the reviews have been very positive thus far.

  5. tbatt says:

    Another thing that you can try that's worked for me is turning your driver upside down, since this is generally the most expensive and delicate club in your bag. Of course this won't work if your bag doesn't have a large enough opening, but it does provide good protection.

  6. Mark says:

    I have forged irons and am very paranoid about dings when my soft sided bag gets tossed around by the airlines. For several years, I have been putting old socks over the tops of all the clubheads. This keeps them really secure as I have never had a ding yet. This also protects the graphite shafts of my woods too.

  7. Josh says:

    One note on renting clubs.

    I traveled last month to Nevada and decided that I would just rent instead of flying with my clubs. The rental clubs were Titleist very similar to what I have but there was some costs that I didn't take into account. First I didn't think about having a glove so I bought one for an additional $15, then I realized I needed golf balls which was an additional $10. So on top of the $50 to rent clubs I had to add another $25 and I quickly realized I should have just brought my own clubs or at least brought a glove and golf balls in my luggage.

  8. Brad says:

    I travel extensively with my clubs and have had good experiences so far.

    1. Bag-Club Glove-The model just under the "everlasting" version. Cost me about $140 but it has held up to 8 years of airport handling, rental car trunks and when in my garage, the "gunk" off the contents. It has a "Burst Proof" warranty and after this long I doubt I'll ever have to call them. It has a skid plate on the bottom and back that is very handy going over curbs etc when navigating airports etc.

    Make sure you try out your bag inside the travel bag before you buy it. My version handles a stand bag with ease but it is too small for larger bags. Also, place your shoe bag, rain gear & umbrella in the travel bag to make sure it all fits.

    2. Stiff-Arm by Club Glove-Worth it's weight 2x in gold (it's aluminum). My unit has taken some serious blows. It has been bent back twice so the telescoping shafts will still extend. I'm cheap and probably should just go by another. My Mizuno driver and Adila shaft have never been damaged and I thank the Stiff Arm for that. (Face it, if your driver is on, you'll never part with it....and would really be disappointed if it was damaged.)

    3. I play forged Mizuno irons and travel with heavy vinyl covers. The neoprene style won't take a hard blow and they tear. (I went through mine in about a year and then got the good ones.....lesson learned.) I make sure my driver/fairway/utility clubs with graphite shafts all have head covers with long socks on them to protect not only the club but the shaft as well.

    4. Empty the "kitchen sink" from your bag. (in my case about 5#!!!) No need schlepping all that stuff around. I was amazed how much unnecessary stuff I collected and how much it weighed. Unless I am playing an "ocean course" I only take a 3-6 practice balls in my bag. I buy a dozen on the course (usually with the course logo) and seldom pay more than my local shop. (Can't get Pro V1X at K-Mart anyway....) Besides, they are a great souvenir from my trip.

    Just my opinions and experience. Hope this helps!

    Hit 'em straight, hit 'em far......in that order..... :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

  9. Cliff says:

    I like the idea of shipping my clubs ahead of time. Has anyone actually done this? What was the cost? How does the cost compare to checking two bags (golf bag and suitcase)? What are the downsides?

    Sounds convenient, if you can stand being seperated from your clubs for two weeks.

  10. baal says:

    concerning the shipping. A much cheaper way (at least here in Europe) than DHL and shipping companies, is to contact the airlines and use their cargo shipping. It take a couple of days to arrive, I shipped once a 20 kg synthesizer this way for 100$ only for a flight of 2000 km, DHL and Fedex ask for much much more for such a weight.

  11. Peter V says:

    I travel with a soft travel bag and always carry my SpeedStick. It is taller than my driver and takes any blow from baggage handlers. I also wrap my playing towels around all my clubs and zip up the golf bag head cover.

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