How to Bring Golf Clubs on a Plane? 4 Important Tips
The world is full of beautiful golf courses, from the stunning Dunes at Shenzhou Peninsula in China to the unique Cape Kidnappers Golf Course at Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand. Why not explore?
One thing that keeps a lot of avid golfers from exploring new links is traveling with their clubs. If you haven't done it before, you're probably wincing at the mental picture of your clubs, loose in baggage, rattling around, and getting dented and scratched by other people's luggage.
But traveling with your clubs doesn't have to be a terrible ordeal. If you plan and follow the tips in the following guide, you'll be traveling with ease in no time.
Can I Take My Golf Clubs on a Plane?
Almost every airline treats golf clubs as standard luggage. TSA generally permits golf bags as checked luggage but not as carry-on.
But pay attention to the fine print: it's up to the TSA officer at the gate whether or not you'll be allowed through with your golf bag.
What you need to do before you book a ticket is to check the policies of the airline you're flying with, as well as the airport where you'll land. Their guidelines will give you a solid idea of what to expect when traveling with a golf bag.
How Much Does It Cost to Bring Golf Clubs on a Plane?
Airlines treat golf clubs like any other checked luggage as long as they're properly stored and tightly stowed. You won't be charged extra just to bring them on board.
Indeed, some airlines will allow your bag as carry-on luggage so long as it weighs less than 50 pounds. That's the standard carry-on weight maximum for all airlines. And for most golf bags, that’s also the upper weight threshold for a standard-sized golf bag.
Overweight fees can gouge you, so it's best to weigh your bag ahead of time.
How to Bring Golf Clubs on a Plane
The airline isn't going to treat your golf bag any differently than any other checked bag. But as you well know, a bag full of a bunch of sweaters absolutely cannot be treated in the same way as a bag full of expensive, polished, precision-cut clubs. One tiny dent in the rod, and your swing might be in trouble!
It's up to you to ensure that your clubs stay protected throughout the flight. That means taking extra precautions in packing, using the proper case, and tagging your clubs.
Here are the best practices for bringing golf clubs on a plane:
1. Make Sure You Absolutely Need Them
Before you start packing, ask yourself: Do I need to bring these clubs? If you're taking a trip specifically to try out an exotic new golf course, then yes, obviously, you need a driver and putter and all that.
But there are other ways of getting in a session at the links without your clubs. Most courses and resorts have rental programs, and the clubs are often high quality.
If you're already paying a premium to stay at a resort, they may throw the clubs in for free or for a reduced fee.
It won't be the same as playing with your clubs. But if you're worried about the potential damage that your clubs could incur mid-flight, or the prospect of them not showing up in baggage claim, you may want to consider renting.
2. Be Aware of the Airline's Policies and Fees
Each airline will have a different set of policies when it comes to checked luggage and carry-on bags.
While there may not be a dedicated page on every airline website for golf bags, representatives of each airline can answer all your club-related questions.
3. Get ID Tags for Your Clubs
The uncomfortable truth is that when bags get lost during air travel, it's the airline's fault most of the time. Indeed, the leading cause of lost bags is mishandled transferring.
It's not often an issue of improperly checked bags, an insecure zipper, or people ignoring the weight requirements.
That said, getting individual ID tags for your clubs can reduce the chances that something goes awry while traveling. ID tags contain name, address, contact information, and flight information lines.
So if your golf bag gets accidentally placed on another flight or deposited into the wrong baggage claim, the agents that recover it can ship it back to your home address.
4. Use a Hard-Shell Case and Pack Them Tight
There are two types of golf bags: soft-shell bags and hard-shell bags.
Soft-shell bags usually feature a rugged canvas material. Though they can't be punctured or torn, the clubs inside are more at risk since they can bump around and get crushed from the outside.
On the other hand, you run the risk of a hard-shell case flattening down under pressure and crushing your clubs. But rest assured, that's the only risk you run by investing in a hard-shell case, and the chances of it happening are exceedingly rare.
When traveling with your clubs, hard-shell cases are the way to go. They'll keep your clubs safe and secure.
4 Tips for Traveling With Your Golf Clubs
In addition to reading up on airline policies before you fly, considering renting clubs at your destination, ID tagging them, and using a hard-shell case, there are more preventive measures you can take. Here are the four best tips for traveling with your clubs.
1. Avoid Layovers If You Can
As noted earlier, mishandled transfers are the leading cause of misplaced baggage. It means that direct flights are the way to go.
Each time your luggage is taken off a plane and moved somewhere else, you run the risk of losing it. The fewer transfers you have, the more you decrease that risk.
2. Consider Using a Tracking Device
Pack your clubs with a tracking device if ID tags aren't enough. That way, wherever they show up, if it's not at baggage claim, you'll be able to track them down.
3. Leave the Important Swag at Home
You may not think twice about covering your wedge in that sleeve that has sentimental value for you. But if you're going to fly with your clubs, you need to consider every possibility.
If you lose the clubs altogether, that's a terrible expense. But for the most part, they are replaceable.
Objects with sentimental value aren’t, so try to bring only what you can replace.
4. Shipping Is an Option
Like renting once you get there, you can also avoid flying with your clubs by shipping them.
You do run the same risks of damage and loss. However, if there's no way to get to your destination without a bunch of layovers, shipping direct may be a good option.
Golf is supposed to be an easy, relaxing game, even if you're a competitive pro.
At Stitch Golf, we believe that every player deserves to feel good about their game. That's why you should plan and prepare ahead of time before you fly with your golf bag. And it doesn't hurt to golf in style.