How to Pack Golf Clubs for Air Travel
5 Tips to Ensure Safe Golf Gear During Travel
I had a pretty bad experience with traveling with sporting gear recently, so I decided to put together a list of 5 easy tips to ensure safe golf gear during travel including how to pack golf clubs for air travel. First off I’d recommend getting a travel case especially if you’re a regular traveler. Even if you’re not, protecting your golf clubs should be a priority for you when heading for a golf break.
What Kind of Case is Best?
This is the first step, choosing what case is best for you. Soft cases are much lighter and much more comfortable for land travel but offer less protection. Hard cases, on the other hand, are, as the name suggests, much more protecting but they have their own disadvantages. Hard cases can be very bulky, making it hard to fit them into cars and move with them by foot, and in some cases can be quite heavy as well. Ultimately, in my opinion, which case you use should depend on your trip and personal preferences. If I’m going on a trip with a single flight and trains/cabs I’ll usually take my soft case since a single flight each way limits the amount of time others will handle my bag. Trains and cars also mean you’ll be able to take care of the bags yourself. If I’m going on a longer trip, especially one with connecting flights I’ll take the hard case hands down. The soft and hard travel cases offer the same advantages and disadvantages.
How to Pack Your Gear
Going to and fro from the course is one thing, but when you’re going to let others handle your bangs there are some special measures you can take to protect your equipment. First, off I always make sure to try and pack all similar height clubs together, since usually any protruding clubs would take the full force of an impact by themselves if they were alone. A good trick is using a single golf sock on your irons and putter, also placing them in the same compartments to ensure they’re the same height. I like to think with this trick they’ll all share any damage they’d take preventing any breaks. Another trick I’ve always used over the years is placing “stuffing” or support by the club heads. Things like golf towels or a blanket can provide great support for the case while preventing the clubs from damaging each other. Be careful not to over-pack this area, and place some extra padding above the shorter clubs to give support to the taller ones.
What Else Can You Do to Protect Your Equipment?
Over the years players have come up with some really nifty ideas to help keep things safe. A few years ago I used to use a PVC pipe I cut the same length as my tallest club inside the case as a shield; it worked but was a huge hassle. These days people use extensible stiff arms to make sure all the clubs have guaranteed breathing room inside the travel case. It’s basically an extensible aluminum rod with a support disc on one end. You can set the height to just over that of your tallest club, and the small umbrella on top that acts as a support to the travel bag. This helps make your travel bag “hard”, and be more than a cushion protecting your clubs. There are also soft travel bags that have a hard plastic or rubber casing where the clubs’ heads are located, making the clubs much safer and prevent any single club from taking the full brunt of any impact that may occur.
What About the Actual Flight?
First thing, always go for flights with no connections; when you switch flights that’s where your bags are most likely to get mishandled. In terms of weight/size restrictions, there are a lot of different regulations used by different companies, and I’m not even taking into account international travel. So to simplify things there are some assumptions that are almost always the case, and the small variations are easy to account for. First is that golf bags are ALWAYS considered “oversize” luggage. This means you always have to check it in, and when picking it up you may have to search for the oversize luggage retrieval counter. Second is the weight limit that is usually 50 lbs, meaning I’m prepared for an overweight fine. A good trick is if your bag is near the 50 lbs mark, you can place some accessories into your other luggage, if you check in two bags below 50 lbs you’ll only pay the extra luggage fine, and avoid overweight charges. Things can get pretty complicated if you need to take clothing, shoes, gear, and accessories to top it off, so keep an eye on the weight distribution and make good use of your onboard luggage.
What Are the Alternatives?
Depending on the amount of equipment you own sending your clubs ahead by mail is an extremely simple way of avoiding all the hassles at the airports and in between. Depending on the mail service it can be somewhat expensive, but I’ve used the mail on multiple occasions; especially when it’s winter where I am and I won’t be using the equipment anyways. The only thing that can be an inconvenience is acquiring adequately sized boxes, but once you have them the packing is easy, and the same box can be used on the way back. I personally prefer this method as it’s much safer, but due to time restrictions, it’s sometimes just not possible.
There’s a lot to take into account when planning for a golfing trip, so making a list is something that always helps me keep organized:
1. Checking the weight/luggage rules for each airline I plan on using (a cheaper ticket can actually be more expensive once you factor in the luggage fees for that airline)
2. Calling ahead to make sure what accessories (balls, tees etc..) I can avoid taking
3. Depending on the size of the gear making plans for adequate cars ahead (renting instead of taking cabs)