If you travel at all with with your clubs, you should take a look at this post and the 8 simple steps you can take to protect your sticks. It should save you some time and gives you a better chance of your clubs making it to its final destination at the same time you do and in one piece. Traveling is stressful enough that you shouldn’t also have to worry about your clubs as well.
1. Travel Bag: There are two basic choices – hard or soft sided bag. I know people that habe used and travel with both but have only personally owned a soft sided bag. The hard bag offers more protection but they are not as functional outside of that. They have zero “give” and can be tough to fit in your car and tote around. From what I have heard I will not get a hard bag even if its means giving up a little protective quality.
I recommend a high quality soft sided bag. And when I say high quality I mean do not hold back at all – you will be happy you did not cut any corners. Club Glove makes the best travel bags out there hands down. Stick with the wheeled versions or you will regret it the first time you have to move it any more than a couple feet. Their “Last Bag” is used by many of the PGA Pros if that gives you any idea of quality. The are not the cheapest ones out there but there is a reason for that. Do you really want to cram $1500+ of equipment in a cheap, flimsy bag? I know I don’t!
2. Protect Your Driver – What was that? Your a cheap skate but still want some decent protection? Another option from their catalog is the Stiff Arm. It is an adjustable crutch that protects your long clubs if your bag gets dropped on their heads. You simply extend the stiff arm to a height 1-2″ longer than your longest club. It only cost $26.95 and is a great way to insure your clubs make it in one piece. My dad actually does double duty and has the Last Bag and uses the Stiff Arm with this bag. I believe this is actually better then using a hard case but will still not be cover by the airlines if damaged.
3. Mark Your Territory – Do not really on those cheap paper tags you get at the airport. Put a tag that is laminated and secure it well to your travel bag. I actually have 2 on my travel bag just for good measure. To be on the safe side, I also have one on my clubs on the inside so if the baggage people have a field day with my equipment or it gets ripped entirely off, they can still find me. If you are without clubs or loss clubs, save the rental receipts and cost of your clubs and the airline should reimburse you.
4. Pack extra clothing – a rain suit, for instance or extra towels around the heads of your clubs for extra cushioning and protection. Make sure no to leave any valuables in your bag. If you own a range finder or GPS, you will want to pack those in your carry on. If you are going on a major golf vacation it is always safe to pack and extra pair of shoes, a sleeve or two of your favorite balls and a glove in your carry on as a just in case backup. Push comes to shove you can always buy this stuff at the pro shop but it is always cheaper to bring our own.
5. Fly Direct! If that is not possible (due to scheduling or price), aim for layovers of at least an hour to allow time for your luggage to make it to your connecting flight. It might be a little inconvenient at the airport but well worth the assurance your clubs make it from plane to plane. Think of it as a great opportunity to sit down and enjoy a beer in between planes. Just make sure not to enjoy it too much and miss the connection (me and my brother did that once and had to change our tickets to the next flight 2 hours later – what a pain).
6. Protect Your Investment: Before packing everything up in your travel bag, take a couple of pictures with time and date stamp. This way you will have a formal record of what you had in your bag. (also have handy receipts for your clubs) If you are a frequent traveler it might make sense to purchase a rider with your insurance company. It is fairly inexpensive ($30-50 a year) and is way cheaper then having to buy replacements. As mentioned in all airline liability forms – they are not liable for any damage unless the clubs are in a hard sided case. So you need to pick your poison when it comes to personal rider, hard side or soft side and which mix is best for you. I believe a high quality soft side will offer the same amount of protection as compared to a hard side but it does not come with the some liability coverage.
7. Claim Your Gear: When you arrive, go directly to the baggage area and find out where the clubs will be brought – whether they will come out the regular carousel or to an oversized baggage area. Get your clubs first, especially if they are delivered to a different area then the regular luggage.
8. Ship Your Gear: if you are going a golf vacation you can also consider shipping your gear to a friend or the place you are staying. There are speciality services that can help you but they are not cheap and retrieving your clubs can sometimes be tricky since many hotels do not do this on a regular basis and might not have standard protocol.
If any of you have other suggestions or tips on what you should or should not do when traveling with your gear we would love to hear it. Our goal here at Ultimategolfgear.com is to help golfers find the best gear for the best deals. We also want to provide the most valuable tips and tricks to protect your gear and your game.