A Necessary Evil
Taking a golf trip is great, but traveling with golf clubs is a hassle. More than that, it’s nerve wracking to think about your precious clubs being lost, stolen, or broken en route. Today, I’ll share some of my hard earned lessons about packing golf clubs for air travel.
Hard Case or Soft Case?
The first decision you need to make when traveling with your clubs is whether to use a hard or soft travel case. Neither one is perfect, so you have to consider your needs.
Soft case: Easier to pack. The case is lighter, leaving more weight for gear. Fits into most cars fairly easily.
Hard case: Peace of mind. The airlines will only cover damaged clubs if you’re using a hard case.
I have both, and I do prefer my hard case, but I only use it if I know I will have a minivan or SUV to drive at my destination.
Use your phone to take a few pictures of your clubs before you pack them up. This will serve as proof of what was in the bag should it get lost or stolen.
Whether you use a hard or soft travel case, how you pack your clubs will make a big difference in the abuse they take. Here’s my step by step plan:
Step One: Choose a golf bag without legs. I prefer a cart bag, but a true walking bag is a fine choice, too. The reason for this is simple: even in a hard case, a bag’s legs are very easy to break. I lost a great stand bag that way.
Step Two: Take the heads off all adjustable clubs. Put the heads in their headcovers and store them inside your golf bag or in another piece of luggage. Make notes or take pics of how the clubs get put back together.
Step Three: Use a Stiff Arm. If you don’t want to spring for a Stiff Arm, use a broom handle. As long as it extends past your longest club or shaft, it will do the job of absorbing the impact if your bag is dropped head first.
Step Four: Take the socks that you’re going to wear on the trip and use them to cover your irons and wedges. Then, weave your golf towel through your clubs to minimize movement.
Step Five: Put your golf balls in your regular luggage. Your golf bag is going to get very close to the 50 pound limit, especially with a hard case. Putting your balls in your luggage will save you from paying the overweight charge or doing the emergency reshuffle at baggage check.
Bonus Tip: Put your rangefinder in your carry on. Rangefinders are expensive and can very easily be stolen or broken in transit.
Step Six: Fill all the excess space in the case with your clothes. Clothes won’t add much weight, but they will pad your clubs and limit the amount of movement in your case.