Just because you golf often, this doesn't mean you necessarily travel and golf often, at least not on trips that require travel by air. There are more things to consider than you might know, so we asked a few experts to provide some basic and even advanced tips for travelling with your golf clubs.
We asked two travel agents with extensive experience in both handling golf groups and taking their own clubs on the road. Jani Miller specializes in golf excursions as a travel agent with Central Travel in Toledo, Ohio. Paul Schmidt is a golf travel specialist with Premier Golf in Duluth, Ga., the company established to provide golf travel services for the PGA of America and exclusive distributor for Ryder Cup packages.
Here are some of their best tips.
Try to get a non-stop flight, if possible. The fewer times baggage handlers need to move your clubs from plane to plane in a short amount of time, the better.
Get a durable, well-made travel bag. Hard shell bags are more expensive and the best will run around $250. But Schmidt said they’ll give you more protection if you want that peace of mind.
If you use a soft-sided bag, don’t forget to pack a golf club protection device. It looks like an adjustable aluminum crutch that’s taller than your driver and keeps your shafts from being damaged in case the bag is dropped upside down.
Don’t forget that golf bags are considered “oversized check-in”. If you don’t know where to find check in or pick up at a particular airport, Schmidt said make sure you ask someone as soon as you get there. And if you're unsure on the cost or weight allowance, check with the airline or your travel agent. Be aware that some airports will send your golf bag through the regular baggage belt (with all of the other luggage) but others (such as Atlanta Hartsfield) will leave at a different location for oversized bags.
Add some personal ID marking to your bag. Miller said adding some bright-colored string or a pom-pom will help you identify it quickly. Many bags have places for business cards as well. Don't forget to include your cell phone number. If possible, include the name of the hotel where you’re staying.
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Don’t wind up with more luggage than you need. “Never travel with more bags than you can manage alone,” Miller said.
Think about a cab or car service (or ride to airport). Drops you off closer to the gate than parking, which means a long haul at times with a large bag to roll.
Pack your clubs so they won’t move around in the travel bag. “If you’re going to Scotland or Ireland, it’s easy because you’re going to be throwing extra sweaters or a windbreaker in there to give it extra protection,” Schmidt said.
Tip: Use your travel bag for additional storage. “You can put gifts and other things you’re bringing back home in that golf bag,” Schmidt said.
Don’t leave your expensive electronics in your golf bag. Rangefinder? GPS? Treat it just like your computer – carry it on with you.
If you’re still leery of putting your equipment on a plane, do use a shipping service. “It’s not necessarily the most affordable way to transport them,” Schmidt said. “But if you want the peace of mind, they do a good job with that.”