How to fly with golf clubs

Are you an avid golfer looking to vacation on the links? How about a business traveler hoping to fit in a few holes for fresh air, exercise, or networking opportunities? 

I love traveling to play golf. New courses, new people, new challenges are all part of the fun.

Whatever your reason, knowing how to fly with golf clubs is valuable information. Before heading to the airport, you’ll want to have your clubs travel ready!

Plan Your Trip

Start your trip off right by factoring in accommodations for your golf case. There are steps you can take to make the process less stressful and give your clubs the best chance to arrive at your destination with you.

  • Non-stop flights limit the amount of baggage handling, so there’s less chance your clubs will be rerouted or end up in a different city.
  • Consider your transport carefully and make sure you can comfortably take your clubs to and from the airport. When renting a car, go with a larger car or SUV.
  • Review your airline’s requirements for baggage because many airlines only allow certain types of golf cases. There are also weight and size specifications.
  • Know your checked bag fees because they will vary from airline to airline. Remember, your golf case will count as an oversized check-in.

Use the Right Golf Bag

Protecting your golf clubs starts with a well-made case designed for travel. There are two main style options for a golf travel bag, and neither one is perfect, so you will have to base your decision on preference. 

Soft Case

Soft travel bags are less expensive and flexible, which allows you to pad a little more. While some golfers argue that soft cases offer less protection, some models perform as well as hard cases. They are probably a better option if you only plan to travel with your clubs a few times each year.

Hard Case

Hard cases are often noted to last longer and provide the most protection. Still, they are also more expensive and more cumbersome. The plastic or fiberglass exterior acts as a shell around your clubs, but you’ll need to pad around your clubs on the inside because they will still shift a lot in flight. 

Other Case Considerations

Once you’ve decided between a hard case and a soft case, you still have some conditions to consider before purchasing. There are plenty of differences, and every traveling golfer will have personal preferences, so you’ll want to do your research on specific cases.

  • Size is probably the most important. Your golf travel bag and clubs need to fit inside the case.
  • Price is make or break for some, but be prepared to invest if you want to protect your clubs. Skimping on your case will not likely end well. 
  • Some airlines will only reimburse you for damaged clubs if you used a hard case. If you tend to fly with one airline, it’s a good idea to consider their policy when purchasing a travel bag.
golf hole next to ocean

Pack Your Golf Case The Right Way

You may think that your job is done after selecting the right travel golf bag, but you’d be wrong. A good case is only the beginning. Packing your clubs appropriately will ensure they stay secure. There are a lot of options depending on your bag, clubs, and additional items you’re taking.

Protect Your Clubs

Protecting your clubs is the purpose of using a travel bag, but if you don’t pack appropriately, your clubs will still move and shift in the case. One option is to add a protective device for your clubs, but with oversized heads and smaller golf bags, this isn’t always an option. 

It is crucial to protect the area where the clubhead meets the shaft because that’s where most breakage occurs. For this reason, some golfers turn the clubs upside down in the bag. Detachable heads should be removed, covered, and packed in the case. Bubble wrap is an excellent option because it can be wrapped around the shaft and clubhead.

You can also protect your clubs by packing other items around them. You can use a golf jacket, hand towels, and even other clothes you’re taking on the trip. Cover your clubheads with socks and weave t-shirts or other clothing around and between the shafts. This method will protect your clubs and reduce the amount of other luggage needed for your trip.

When using a soft case, you can protect your clubheads from being dropped headfirst by incorporating a pole, like a broomstick, into the clubs. As long as the pole extends beyond your longest club, it will absorb most of the impact.

Identifying Your Case

Are you looking at a plain black case? To help identify your case, try adding a personal touch like a colorful ribbon or stickers. In case it does get lost, make sure you include personal identification with contact information. If your case doesn’t have a specific compartment for your information, you may have to tape it on the side.

Address the Extras on Your Golf Bag

If your golf bag has any extras, like stands or arms that could snap off in transit, you’ll want to remove them. Even the best cases can’t protect extendable parts from breaking off with so much jostling around.

traveler watching plane take off

Traveling with Your Clubs

Your clubs are nestled in your chosen case, and your bags are all packed. Double-check that your clubs are adequately labeled before leaving home.

At the airport, head straight for check-in to weigh your case and have it tagged. There is a chance that your case will have to be checked in at a special location because it’s an oversized item. Be prepared for delays.

When you arrive at your destination, ask an attendant if there is a separate pick-up location for oversized baggage. If not, head for the luggage carousel. There’s a good chance your case will be among the first or last off the plane due to the size and shape.

Tips and Tricks How To Fly With Golf Clubs

The best advice we can give you is to make the most of your golf case without going over your airline’s weight limit. That said, we do have a few more tips to help you on your way.

  • Make use of the space and fill extra, empty pockets with other items you need.
  • Limit the number of golf balls you pack because they can add a lot of excess weight. Consider buying balls at your destination or adding them to your carryon.
  • Take pictures of your clubs before you pack them in the case. Photographs of your clubs, the bag, and the case are helpful if anything terrible happens.
  • Keep your golf-related electronics in your carryon.
  • If you’ve used the case before, make sure you remove any luggage tags from old flights.

What to Do if Your Clubs are Lost or Damaged

Like any luggage, your golf clubs can be lost or damaged in transit. It can be frustrating and costly, especially if you’re missing scheduled tee times or competitions. Still, the first thing to do is take a deep breath. Panicking will only lead to ranting, which will likely make things worse.

Each airline has different policies regarding luggage, but generally, you will have some recourse. Check with your airline about their specific policies and follow the process. There’s a good chance you will have to file a claim within twenty-four hours to be reimbursed for lost property.

Additionally, many airlines will reimburse you for reasonable things like lost tee times, club rentals, or other related incidentals incurred as long as you provide receipts. The key here is what they deem to be reasonable. If you’re a hobby golfer, they’re not likely to reimburse you for anything the airline considers to be excessive. 

plane taking off from airport

Other ways to get your Golf Clubs to your location

Does flying with your golf clubs sound like more trouble than it’s worth? Two other options that will allow you to hit the course without the headache. However, like choosing between soft and hard cases, there are pros and cons to both.

Rent at Your Destination

Flying with your clubs can get expensive, so why not research the cost of renting after you arrive at your destination. Some companies will let you rent from a selection of newer models, so it’s not like you’d be stuck with old, nicked, or rusty clubs. While they won’t be your clubs, renting may save you a lot of money and hassle in the long run.

Ship Ahead

If you can’t stomach rental clubs, you can always try shipping them. Standard shipping companies will ship your clubs and allow you to insure them, but there are new options available as well.

Since sports travel has grown, new companies emerged that specialize in shipping sports equipment like golf clubs. Instead of worrying about lugging your clubs around, these companies will ship them directly to your destination. They even work directly with major golf resorts.

Tee Up for Travel

Traveling with golf clubs can be difficult, but many people manage to do so successfully. By planning and packaging your gear appropriately, there’s no reason you can’t be a golf travel success story, as well. You’ll be teeing off in no time!

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