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There are some absolutely amazing golf courses in this world. If you are like me, then you probably want to play as many of them as you can in your lifetime. However, some of these courses may be thousands of miles from where you live, and bringing your clubs along with you on vacation can be cumbersome and expensive.
Instead of letting this discourage you, let me teach you some tips and tricks that I have picked up over the many years I have been traveling to play golf. By using these tips, transporting your clubs will no longer be the big hassle that it has been. That will leave you with more time to think about having fun on your trip, and shooting as low of a round as possible.
If you have some tips or tricks for transporting clubs that I haven’t listed here, please feel free to leave those tips in the comments section below. Not only do I absolutely love learning from you all, but other readers will probably be thankful as well. The golfing community, like the travel community, is a pretty tight knit crowd, and helping each other will only make that community tighter.
Consider Renting Clubs at the Course
Probably the easiest way to save yourself from the hassle of having to transport your clubs to play golf on a trip is to not bring your clubs at all. Instead, most courses will rent you clubs, which can be a really convenient alternative to bringing your own. Keep in mind, club rentals typically aren’t cheap (especially at the nicer courses). They can run upwards of $100-$150 for an 18-hole round of golf.
Before you finalize your travel arrangements, I would recommend checking with the course to find out for sure if they offer club rentals and how much the rental would cost. If you decide that renting is the way to go, I would suggest letting them know that you plan to rent when you make your tee times. You should make these tee times well in advance with nice courses to ensure that you are able to play when you want to play.
Consider Shipping Your Clubs Instead
If you aren’t too keen on renting clubs, but also aren’t excited about having to lug your clubs thru and airport and then across the world, another option would be to ship your clubs to the course ahead of you. Again, this can be a very convenient alternative to flying with your clubs, but it can also come with a fairly steep price tag.
If you decide that you want to ship your clubs, make sure you take insurance out on the shipment. The last thing you want is to be footing the bill if your clubs should get damaged. I can not emphasize this point strongly enough as I have known people who have shipped their clubs without having them insured and have been sorry they didn’t.
Use a Hard Case If Possible
If you want to bring your clubs along with you on your trip, your best bet for keeping those clubs safe from damage is to invest in a hard case to carry them in. Most airlines will not reimburse you for damage to your luggage’s contents unless your luggage was a hard case. I had my driver head snapped off on the way back from a trip to California a few years ago, and I was stuck with the bill to get my driver re-shafted. If you have the money, these cases can be a really good investment.
Use a Club Protection Device
For those of you who want to take your clubs on your trip, but have already invested in a soft cover carrier bag or aren’t able to invest in a hard cover case, there is another option for keeping your clubs safe in transport. For just $30, you can purchase a club protector that will fit into your soft cover transport case and will protect your clubs from damage during transport.
The protector works by extending out further than your club heads, so if your bag is dropped club head side first, the clubs don’t get damaged. They are very effective and affordable, which makes them a good option if you don’t want to splurge on a hard cover case.
Wrap a Towel Around Your Club Heads
If you are traveling with your clubs right away, and don’t have time to go out and get a hard cover case or a club protector, there is a good way to MacGyver your clubs so that they are protected.
Just take two large towels and wrap them around your club heads in both directions, as illustrated in the diagram below. Then, tape around the towels to keep them securely in place. I used this method to protect my clubs for years after having my driver head snap off, and it worked great.
Move Your Clubs to a Lighter Bag
If you are planning to travel with your clubs, you are going to want to make sure you reduce the weight of your clubs to avoid paying hefty excess baggage fees. A great way to do that is to travel with a smaller golf bag. If you have a cart bag, you are going to want to transfer your clubs into a smaller carry bag. The smaller the bag the better.
I keep an old carry bag with shoulder straps, much like the one in the image above, around just for these purposes. It weighs much less than the bag I use now, so it is the perfect bag to take with me when I travel. It has saved me a bunch of money in excess baggage fees over the years.
Move Your Balls and Equipment To Your Carry-On
Another great way to minimize the weight of your golf bag to avoid excess baggage fees is to redistribute some of its weight to other baggage you are taking. I always pack my golf shoes in my suitcase, as well as my golf balls (usually in a large zip lock bag), rain gear, and other equipment that will fit. This allows me to stay under the airport’s baggage weight limit and saves me a good deal of money.
Research Airline Baggage Policies
When traveling with your golf clubs, it is always important to understand your airline’s baggage policies before showing up at the airport. If you need to be under 50 or 75 lbs to prevent being charged excess baggage fees, you will want to know that before you are checking in. That way, you can plan ahead. Same goes with the physical dimensions of allowed baggage. If your baggage needs to be under a certain height and width, there isn’t much you will be able to do about that at the airport.
I recommend doing some research on these policies before you even book your airfare. Some airlines (like Southwest) allow free checked baggage, and some do not. Some airlines will give you free checked baggage with status, which is good to know as well. I get free checked baggage my Delta status and I know exactly how big and heavy my clubs bag can be when I travel. So I get no surprises when I show up at the airport.
Book a Non-Stop Flight If Possible
Whenever possible, it is always good to book direct flights when flying with golf clubs. Direct flights mean there are less times your bag is loaded and unloaded from a plane, which means less opportunities for your clubs to get damaged. Because if your clubs get damaged, most likely this is when that damage will occur.
Add a Personal ID Tag to Your Bag
The final tip I have for you on flying with golf clubs is to always have a personal identification tag on your clubs. Should your clubs get lost or routed incorrectly, you will want to make it as easy as possible for the airline to get a hold of you. That way, the airline can get the clubs to your destination as soon as possible and arrange to have them delivered to you.