Golf Clubs in a Bag

5 Commons Mistakes when Packing Golf Clubs for Flight (and What to Do Instead)

Golfers spend a lot of money on clubs and equipment so if we are taking a trip to golf outside of New England, we want to make sure they arrive safely.  When it comes to traveling with golf clubs, there are a few things you should keep in mind to help your clubs arrive at your destination safely (and in good condition). 

As someone who often travels with my golf clubs, I have a few tips and tricks that I’ve used over the years. But first, here are the most common mistakes golfers make when packing golf clubs for flight:

  1. Improper Packing
  2. Exceeding Weight Limits
  3. Not Insuring the Clubs
  4. Forgetting to Reserve Space
  5. Ignoring Airlines Policies 
Florida Sunset on the water with palm trees
from my recent golf trip to sunny Florida

Now that you know what not to do, let’s look at your options when flying to a golf destination. If you are going on a golf trip then you have three options for using clubs on the trip:

  •  Fly with your clubs on the plane
  •  Ship your clubs with a company that specializes in it
  •  Rent clubs at your destination golf course

When making this choice you want to focus on two things: Getting them there safely and being cost-effective. There are benefits to all three options and the best choice for you might depend on where you are going or which airline you are flying with. 

Tips for Flying with your clubs

golf putter on the green

If you are going to bring them on the plane, one of the easiest things to do is to book a direct flight. If you have a connecting flight then there is always the worst case scenario where the clubs don’t make it to the new plane. 

I know the direct flight is usually more expensive so this factors into the cost of the trip.  I have flown both direct and with connecting flights with my clubs and, knock on wood, never had an issue. Here are my tips for flying with your clubs. 

Choose the Right Golf Travel Bag

When it comes to packing golf clubs for flight, choosing the right golf travel bag is crucial to ensure your clubs arrive at your destination safely. 

Hard Case vs. Soft Case

The first decision to make is whether to go with a hard case or a soft case. A hard case offers the most protection for your clubs, but it can also be heavier and bulkier, making it more difficult to transport. 

On the other hand, a soft travel case is lighter and more flexible, but it may not provide as much protection against impact (think of careless baggage handlers). I prefer hard-shell cases for the added protection they provide. However, if weight is a concern or cost then a soft case can be a great option. 

Either way, the most important thing is to make sure you have a high-quality travel bag to protect your precious clubs.

Size and Weight Considerations

When choosing a golf travel bag, it’s important to consider the size and weight policies of the airline you’ll be flying with. Most airlines have a specific weight limit for checked baggage, and some also have size restrictions. They also have checked bag fees that can be an extra cost for your flights.

Golf Clubs in a Bag

You will have to pay a higher fee if your golf travel bag is overweight or oversized luggage, sometimes this can be $100 so make sure you pay attention to the size and weight once fully loaded.

Try to choose a bag that is lightweight but still provides adequate protection for your clubs. This includes the time when you will be dragging it through the airport to check it in. 

Look for a travel bag that has sturdy handles and wheels for easy transport through the airport. Some bags also come with additional features such as an exterior pocket for storing a pair of shoes or accessories, which can be a nice bonus.

Easy Tips for Packing Golf Clubs for Flight

When it comes to packing golf clubs for flight, this is what I do every time I fly.

Air Tags

I bought four Apple Air Tags for my last long-distance golf trip. Air Tags connect to your Find My Phone app and are a tracking device, like a virtual luggage tag.  You can see the location of multiple air tags at once, and there is also a map on the app that lets you see the exact location. 

I put one in my regular luggage and one in my golf travel bag so I can see where they are at all times. These can be especially helpful if you have a connecting flight because you can make sure your luggage and golf bag make it onto the new plane. 

One time before I had Air Tags an airport put my clubs in the overweight bags claim area and I didn’t know that, so I had waited for all of the luggage to come out before I asked an employee where my clubs would be.  The air tags could have helped prevent that stressful situation from happening.

 FYI: Air Tags don’t have a rechargeable battery, but they have a life of around 2 years, then you have to replace the battery inside each one.

Apple Air Tags

Wrapping and Protecting Club heads

The club heads are the most vulnerable part of your golf clubs during travel. To protect them, you should wrap them with towels or bubble wrap and use a zip tie or rope. This will help prevent scratches and dings. 

You can buy individual iron head covers to make sure they don’t bang into each other. Make sure to remove any adjustable heads before wrapping them, and put the heads in your regular luggage to keep them safe.

Securing Shafts and Dividers

The shafts of your golf clubs can also be damaged during travel. To prevent this, you should secure them with bungee cord, rubber bands, or zip ties. This will keep them from moving around and rubbing against each other. 

You can also use dividers in your golf bag to keep the clubs separate. This will also prevent them from banging into each other during transport.

Utilizing a Stiff Arm

Especially 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. 

It keeps the bag from collapsing when pressure is applied to it, which can happen during transport. A stiff arm is an essential tool for protecting your golf clubs during air travel and an added measure to reduce the stress of the flight.

Additional Items and Accessories to Pack

When packing for a golf trip, it’s important to remember that you’ll need more than just your clubs. Here are some additional items and accessories that you should consider packing:

Plastic Golf Tees on Grass

Golf Shoes and Clothing

Golf shoes are an essential item for any golfer, so make sure to pack them in your travel bag. I recommend packing them in a separate shoe bag to keep them clean and protected. You should also pack enough golf clothes for the duration of your trip. 

Consider packing clothes that are appropriate for different weather conditions, like rain gear and a rain cover, and don’t forget a golf towel to keep your clubs and hands dry.

Rangefinders and Electronics

If you use a rangefinder or other electronic devices on the course, make sure to pack them in your carry-on luggage. These items are fragile and can easily break during transport, so it’s important to keep them with you at all times. I also recommend packing extra batteries or chargers in case you need to recharge your devices.

Golf Balls and Tees

Don’t forget to pack enough golf balls and tees for your trip. You don’t want to run out of balls mid-round, so make sure to pack a few extra sleeves just in case. 

You should also consider packing different types of balls to account for different course conditions. Finally, don’t forget to pack a few extra tees in case you lose or break some during your rounds.

ProV1 Titleist Golf Balls with an American Flag

How to Ensure the Safety of Your Golf Clubs

As a frequent traveler with my golf clubs, I know firsthand the importance of ensuring their safety during a flight. I once flew to Florida and when I picked up my clubs, there were banged up (but thankfully not much damage). Since that incident, I’ve taken extra steps when packing golf clubs for flight.

Here are some tips to help you protect your clubs from damage and ensure they arrive at your destination in one piece.

Insurance for Golf Clubs

Before you travel, it’s a good idea to check your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy to see if your golf clubs are covered. If not, consider purchasing travel insurance that will cover your clubs in case of loss, theft, or damage during transit. Some airlines offer additional insurance for an extra fee, but be sure to read the fine print and understand what is and isn’t covered.

Dealing with Damaged Clubs

Despite your best efforts, your clubs may still get damaged during transit. If this happens, be sure to file a claim with the airline as soon as possible. Take photos of the damage and keep all receipts and documentation related to your clubs, including the purchase price and any repairs or replacements. You may also want to contact the manufacturer of your clubs to see if they offer repair or replacement services.

Golf Clubs

Alternative Options to Flying with Golf Clubs

As much as we love to travel with our own set of golf clubs, it can be a hassle and sometimes expensive. Fortunately, there are alternative options to flying with golf clubs that can make your travel experience much smoother.

Shipping Services

One of the best options for shipping your golf clubs is ShipSticks. They offer door-to-door shipping of your clubs and guarantee on-time delivery. They also provide $1,000 of insurance coverage for your clubs. 

Another option is LugLess, which offers a similar service but at a lower cost. Both services allow you to track your clubs during shipping and provide customer support which might be the best way for you to keep peace of mind when traveling.

Renting Clubs at the Destination

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of traveling with your golf clubs, renting clubs at your destination is one of the easiest ways to go. Most golf courses offer rental clubs, and some even offer high-end brands. This option also saves you money on baggage fees and the risk of damage to your clubs during travel.

The downside is that you are playing with completely foreign clubs to you and this might affect the quality of your play on the trip. I’m 6’4″ so I would be worried that the clubs would be too short for my swing. 

When renting clubs, make sure to check the quality of the clubs and ask about the brand and model. It’s also a good idea to get the course’s phone number, email address, or website to reserve your rental clubs in advance to ensure availability.

I have learned these things over the years, and I think these tips for packing golf clubs for flight with help you enjoy your next trip. But what do you think – what are your tips (or tricks) for packing golf clubs for flight?

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