how to travel with golf clubs

Travel Tips: Flying with Golf Clubs

Have you ever wondered how to travel with golf clubs?

Traveling is a love-hate relationship for most people. Once you arrive at a destination, it’s fun but getting there and back is a hassle, especially if you’re traveling with golf clubs.

When you bring your sticks, you have to buy a travel bag, pay for checked luggage, and hope they make it safely to your destination. But the alternative of renting clubs isn’t much better. If you’re going to play an exciting new course, the last thing you want is a set of clubs you’ve never touched or aren’t like the ones you love at home.

Usually, if you’re playing an awesome course while traveling, you want your own clubs for the adventure. Here’s how you can learn how to travel with golf clubs and make sure they end up safely at your destination.

How to Travel With Golf Clubs

Before I get into the details of traveling with golf clubs, I recommend that you always evaluate if you need your clubs vs. the cost of renting ones while you’re there. While renting isn’t ideal, if you’re new to the game or aren’t playing a tournament, sometimes renting is easier. Make sure to call ahead to the golf club and see if they have rentals, what is available, and reserve them if you choose.

But if you decide to travel with yours clubs, make sure that are always prepared for the worst (i.e. having your clubs lost, stolen or damaged). Airlines regularly lose luggage (including golf clubs) and damage can occur to your precious clubs. While this doesn’t happen often, it’s part of the risk of flying.

When it comes to traveling with golf clubs there are two main goals; get the clubs there safely and make it as cost-effective as possible.

Here are some of the best strategies to traveling with golf clubs:

Fly Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is great for a host of reasons; great service, low cost, and the best feature for golfers is the no checked bag fees! You can check your golf travel bag for free and check another bag or use it as a carry-on. Other airlines charge between $25-$50 for checked bags and have strict weight and size limits which makes it expensive if you’re bringing multiple sets.

Book a Nonstop Flight

Nonstop flights are the best option when flying with golf clubs. Not only are nonstop more convenient for you, but it’s also less likely that anything happens to your favorite clubs as there is less transit time.

Plus, it makes it easy to incur less damage as your clubs aren’t being handled between connecting flights.

Get a Durable Travel Bag

When it comes to actually getting your golf clubs on a flight, you need a travel bag. Most airlines allow bags under 50 pounds which is plenty of room for your clubs, shoes, and gear. But some discount airlines Allegiant Air and Spirit Airlines only go to 40 pounds, so make sure to check with them before traveling.

Before you pack up your bag, make sure that you take pictures beforehand of your bag, clubs, and other gear for your records. This will help if something happens to them in transit.

Depending on what type of bag you have, I’d recommend possibly switching bags if possible. Try to go with a more sturdy cart bag than a stand bag that is thinner and more likely to have your clubs damaged as they tossed around by baggage handlers.

Another good tip is to pack your clubs with extra towels in between all of your irons and wedges as your woods should have headcovers. Or you can also put your socks for the trip on your irons and wedges for added protection.

Best Golf Travel Hard Case

There are two main options when it comes to picking a golf travel bag; a hard travel case and soft travel case. The hard cover case provide the most protection for your clubs but are also heavier, bigger, and might not fit in every car.

Here is the hard shell golf travel bag I recommend:

Soft Case

The other version is a soft case that doesn’t have as much protection for your clubs but are much lighter and easier to transport. Personally, I’ve used both and now alway use a soft case as it’s easier to get into cars and haven’t had any clubs broken (knock on woods).

Here is the best soft case travel bag:

For a deeper rundown, check out our full review of the best golf travel bags.

Another great accessory to add to your travel bag is a Bag Boy Backbone Travel Cover. This aluminum rod goes into your bag and extends past your clubs. This gives your soft cover more structure and less likely to snap a shaft in transit. This device is relatively inexpensive and will help protect your woods and it will last a long time!

What to Pack

Aside from your golf clubs, when it comes to traveling with golf clubs you also want to pack your golf shoes, towels, balls, tees, sweater, and rain gear if needed. As a golf bag is usually easily under the weight limit, I also pack liquids to make it easier to go through TSA as well.

Lastly, make sure to not leave any expensive items in your bag like a golf watch, rangefinder or other expensive accessory just in case something happens.

Flying with Golf Clubs

How to Fly With Golf Clubs

Once your bag is packed and secured, make sure that you add a carry ID on the bag. It should come with one but maybe add an extra one as well for safety. The last thing you want it another eager golfer at baggage claim to take your bag instead of his.

Another good idea is to add something that makes the bag easily identifiable like a ribbon, sticker or something else. This might sound like a lot of work for some people, especially if you live in any area of the country where you don’t have a car. Luckily, there are more alternatives to help you travel with your golf clubs.

How to Ship Golf Clubs

Do you want to avoid the hassle of traveling with golf clubs entirely? Now you can! These days you can ship them instead of dealing with this all of these travel worries. There are tons of different services that make it easy to get your sticks from A to B with less hassle and worry.

Ship Sticks

Ship Sticks received the 2016-2018 Golf Digest Editor’s Choice Award for “best golf club shipper” so you know it’s trusted way to ship your clubs.

Here’s how the service works:

  1. Schedule your shipment using their online software
  2. Print and attach your shipping labels to the correct bags
  3. Drop off bags or allow them to be picked up by a Ship Sticks provider (not available in all areas)
  4. Enjoy your on-time golf bag arrival. Plus, you can track it along the way for peace of mind.

Plus, your clubs are fully insured with an on-time guarantee and shipment protection, unlike airlines which don’t offer much, if any, protection. You’re protected up to $1,000 and can pay a nominal fee to increase your insurance to $3,500. This is a huge perk of using Ship Sticks!

Price of Ship Sticks

You’re probably thinking, this all sounds great but how much does Ship Sticks cost? It depends on how quickly you need your clubs there and where they are going.

In general, the prices of Ship Sticks are:

  • Next day delivery – $119
  • Two-day delivery – $109
  • Three-day delivery – $79
  • Ground shipping – $39

Planning your trip in advance and using ground shipping will save you tons of money and is much less expensive than a checked bag fee on most airlines.

Lugless

Lugless is another option to ship your golf clubs directly to your destination. With Lugless, it’s the same process as Ship Sticks of printing, shipping, and having your clubs meet you at the course or hotel.

Since the site ships all luggage, not just golf clubs, the price are based on your travel destination. Make sure to check out their pricing page so you can decide if it’s worth shipping your clubs.

Ship Golf Clubs UPS or FedEx

The last option to ship your clubs is using a major service like FedEx or UPS. You’ll have to visit a FedEx or UPS store near you to drop off and to ensure your clubs are packed correctly. The price is based on the weight, destination, and amount of time needed to arrive.

Check out the FedEx golf club page and the UPS golf club page for more information.

Flying With Golf Clubs FAQ’s

Got more questions about traveling with golf clubs? Check out the most common ones here:

How much does it cost to take your golf clubs on a plane?

It depends on the airline but fees can range greatly. Here is a great baggage fee infographic provided by Ship Sticks that breaks down each airline baggage fee. In general, it’ll cost between $50-$150 depending on the number of bags and total weight. Like I mentioned before, using ground shipping and planning in advance is the cheapest way to go.

How do you pack golf clubs so they don’t break?

The easiest way to to protect your clubs are covering your irons and wedges with towels and socks. If you want to buy additional supplies, you can also buy bubble wrap and wrap each club. If you have expensive shafts, you can also wrap them as well for added protection.

Another way to protect your woods while traveling is to unscrew the heads and store them in your bag wrapped in towels. The last strategy is to use a telescoping shaft that extends to the bottom of your golf bag and sits above the tops of your golf clubs. This is a good idea if you’re using a soft cover bag to ensure it doesn’t get crunched in transit.

How much does a full set of golf clubs and bag weigh?

Typically, the standard set of steel-shafted clubs, bag and gear weight around 35 pounds. Graphite shafts and a stand bag might weigh even less at around 25 pounds total. Most airline carriers require that your bags are under 50 pounds but some airlines are even less so it’s important to double check and weigh them at home first.

Final Thoughts on Traveling with Golf Clubs

Maybe you want to finally book that Scotland golf trip?  Or perhaps you just want to escape playing golf in the snow and head to a warm destination?

Regardless, there a ton of options when it comes to traveling with your golf clubs. If you’re going to bring them with you, make sure that you try and fly Southwest if possible and get a direct flight. Then make sure to invest in a high-quality travel bag to protect your clubs in transit.

If you’re shipping golf clubs, I’d recommend Ship Sticks as it’s hassle-free and their entire business model is based around shipping golf clubs. But if you’re more familiar with UPS or FedEx you can also use them as well. Make sure to do a price comparison so you can get the best deal and use extra packing materials.

Whichever way you decide to go, make sure to pack them tightly with towels, socks, or bubble wrap. And make sure that you have pictures beforehand in case anything goes wrong.

Otherwise, have a great time traveling and hopefully you can start playing your favorite golf bucket list courses around the world!

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