What to Take on a Golf Trip
You have to pack smarter for a golf trip than you would for almost any other kind of vacation. That's mainly because of the massive bag of clubs, balls, tees, spikes, and other assorted golf paraphernalia you'll be toting around, but there are other reasons too.
It may seem like golf is a simple sport, requiring no more than a club, a ball, and a green. But in reality, a fun and worthwhile golf trip requires lots of strategizing and intelligent packing. Start here.
Your gear will be the essential items in your golf trip packing inventory. That encompasses all the things you will use when playing a round of golf, minus the apparel, accessories, food and drink, and more that are no less essential.
Focus on slimming down this section of your inventory as much as possible so that you have more flexibility with other items.
Of course, you should start by considering your golf bag. If you're traveling by air, you'll likely be checking it rather than carrying it on, so think about durability.
If you only ever play at your local course, you may only own a softcover bag and may not have even considered investing in a hardcover bag. But if your trip takes you further afield, now is the time to upgrade.
Hardcover bags are much better to travel with, even if they're a bit more cumbersome to carry. They will endure being thrown about the cargo hold and onto the luggage conveyer belt. It's the bag that will take the damage, not your clubs.
Golf Clubs and Accessories
After considering what kind of bag to bring, move on to the primary consideration of the whole trip: what goes inside. The three main items inside your golf bag will be your clubs, balls, and accessories (tees, spikes, etc.).
A standard-size golf bag can hold as many as 14 clubs, sometimes more. So stop and think how many drivers, wedges, putters, and so on you want—and what kinds.
Also, consider packing the clubs strategically, including filling the space around the clubs with bubble wrap and detaching the heads.
Others may tell you gloves can be left out if pressed for space, but we won't say that here. Golf gloves are vital to good performance. Aside from optimizing grip, they keep the hands warm during wind and cold weather.
Check the weather report at your destination before you travel, and always keep the season in mind. An umbrella certainly isn't a must-bring for all occasions. But for rainy occasions, you'd sooner give up your gloves, hats, and favorite polos for an umbrella.
Rangefinder or GPS
Rangefinders gauge the distance between the current position of the ball and where you want to get it. These are handy little devices if you're really playing for keeps or playing professionally.
If you're going just to ease your mind by taking some big swings in some beautiful courses, however, you can leave this at home.
Protect your clubs even further with club covers. Especially if you travel with a softcover case, you must take extra precautions to protect your club heads. Some courses won't even let you in if the condition of your clubs is too shabby.
Wearing the right clothes makes all the difference. No one wants to get caught in a blazing heat wave wearing Gore-tex and corduroys. Similarly, it might be hard to focus on only a polo and cargo shorts in the pouring rain.
Write out on paper how many of each item of clothing you're bringing so that you leave nothing out and only take what you need.
Lightweight, Longsleeve Shirts
This type of shirt is perfect for golf because it works in cold and hot weather. Look for materials that wick moisture in warmer temperatures but trap heat in the cold.
Don't just pack lightweight clothes if you're going somewhere hot and vice versa; pack with versatility in mind.
Plenty of Pairs of Socks
Many golfers overlook the importance of socks. You’ll be hustling to and from the course, going to lunches and dinners, and going on separate excursions with friends and family on your trip. These all require different types of socks, which means a veritable mountain of socks is necessary for all golf trips.
Stylish and Everyday Basics
Think about your time on your golf trip divided into two basic categories: active and inactive.
What do you need to golf comfortably without hindering performance? When you aren't golfing, what will you be doing? Going to fancy restaurants every night or eating in at the hotel?
You can eliminate plenty of useless items if you understand what you're going to be doing ahead of time and only pack for those occasions.
If you're traveling somewhere rainy, you'll need to bring extra items, like a windbreaker, raincoat, and waterproof shades. If you're traveling somewhere balmy, you will want a visor and a drawstring day bag, so your back doesn't sweat too much.
Finally, the items that are neither quite gear nor apparel. These are the things you'd bring on any trip that are still relevant on a golf trip.
Studies have shown that golf, while it does entail a lot of standing, staring, and carting around, does burn calories. Different types of day bags are suitable for different kinds of golf trips.
You might want a tote if you're only accompanying someone on their golf trip and you want to bring a water bottle and some books to the green each day. If you're going to be at the links every day of your trip, your golf bag may not hold all the things you need, so a more heavy-duty backpack is in order.
Of course, if you're traveling internationally, you both need a residential license and a passport. If your baggage gets misplaced, you'll need this identification to retrieve it. Airlines still misplace an estimated 25 million bags every year, so never assume you'll be one of the lucky ones.
Bring a lightweight insulated water bottle with you everywhere you go. Traveling is highly dehydrating, and so are the high altitudes of flight.
Withdraw at least $200 worth of cash in the currency of your destination so you won't be caught out if you need to buy an essential at a local shop that doesn't process card payments.
Traveling doesn't just dehydrate you—it exhausts your nutrient supply, leaving you hungry. Protein bars are also great to have on the course while playing. But be warned, everyone else is as hungry as you are, so expect folks to ask you if you have extras.
3 Golf Trip Packing Tips
Knowing what you're going to pack and why is essential. But there is wisdom to how you pack and, similarly, how you travel. These are three irreplaceable tips specifically for golf trips.
Take Two Bags, Max
There is no way around the headache of traveling with a huge, awkwardly shaped golf bag. You can't make it any lighter or easier to travel with, but you can pare down how much else you have to lug around.
Bring a backpack on the plane with you; a carry-on size is ideal as far as a second bag goes.
That carry-on bag with your apparel and travel essentials is the one bag that can fluctuate wildly in weight. Remember when you pack it and save yourself as much grief as possible.
Chinos, khakis, and linens are great golf pants, but not denim. It's inflexible, gets heavy with rain, traps too much heat, and exhausts the body. Not to mention, it’s prohibited on almost all golf courses. Leave it at home.