How to Pack for a Golf VacationPublished on 03/14/2023 · 7 min readIf you have a golf trip coming up, Golf Expert Adam Ditcher shares some tips on how to pack so you have everything you need for a great golf vacation.
Photo by L. Filipe C. Sousa
How exciting is it to have an upcoming golf trip right around the corner? I’m not sure about you, but for me, it feels like it’s been far too long since I went on a vacation. Luckily, as I sit and write this article, I have one coming up — a week-and-a-half-long trip split between Tampa, Florida, and the Casa de Campo resort in the Dominican Republic.
I’ve been a travel lover for a long time, whether it is for golf, education, or really any other excuse. My last trip out of the country was to Ireland in October 2019 to watch the St. Bonaventure University golf team compete overseas, and I had been taking at least one trip out of the United States every year since 2016 up to that point. This trip to the Dominican Republic will be my first venture out of the United States since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I could not be more ready.
Combine the necessary travel hiatus with the added bonus of playing at Casa de Campo (named one of the best resorts in the Caribbean by Golf Digest) after a little warm-up around Tampa, and it’s amazing that I can focus enough to write! As amped up as I am for my trip, I still have a variety of things left to do before I am ready to leave. Completing everything on my to-do list, while also trying to minimize my travel costs, will ensure that I have all the essentials I need to golf and enjoy my trip. If you have a trip coming up and need some tips on how to pack, keep reading.
Maximize Your Reward Points
After setting up your golf and lodging for any trip, you likely are at least a few hundred dollars into your wallet — even for a road trip to your nearest course that provides on-site accommodations. Even if you’ve saved up plenty of money for your upcoming trip, preparing properly can help you save that money for when you’re at your destination instead of spending it on additional travel costs.
One major piece of advice I can offer from preparing for my upcoming trip is to maximize any reward points that you receive from your credit cards, especially if the rewards are geared toward travel.
Personally, I had enough redeemable miles that I was able to cover $1,100 in flight costs solely with miles, which freed up money that I would’ve had to spend for transportation to both Florida and the Dominican Republic. I personally use a Capital One Venture Card, but I know that there are a variety of credit cards out there for people who want to accumulate travel miles. Please just make sure to pay off the balance at the end of each month, and you too can start earning free flights to explore new golf courses!
Try to Pack Light and Prioritize
Next, try to pack light for your trip. It may sound silly, but be sure to prioritize packing all of your necessities, as well as things that cannot be easily replaced. If you forget a pair of socks, for example, you can purchase them at or around your destination for a low price; however, your GPS watch, if you can even find a new one, will be much more costly to replace should you forget it.
My shortlist of golf course essentials that I start my packing with include a range finder, Bushnell watch, Swing Caddie launch monitor, golf spikes, and any extra clubs I want to tinker with on my trip (beyond the 14 clubs you’re normally allowed to carry in your bag). I have accumulated this collection of golf technology and extra clubs over the years and replacing any of it would put a major dent in my travel budget, so I make sure to prioritize packing these items first.
Pack the Essentials
After all the most costly items are accounted for, I begin to pack some golf essentials for the trip. I usually will check my bag a day or two before the trip and see how my usual stock of gear and accessories is looking. That gives me a little time to look into purchasing some new golf balls, tees, extra ball markers, or any other course essentials that I keep in my bag if I need them.
Generally, I’ll make sure that the sunscreen, bug spray, and ibuprofen I carry in my bag are not in need of replacement. I’ll also check and see if there is anything that can be removed from my bag to make carrying it — both through the airport and on vacation — an easier task. Once the essentials are covered, the bag is good to go.
I personally own a soft travel case, but would highly recommend a hard case to avoid any damage to your clubs in transit. Pack your golf bag in your case once you’re confident that you have the best setup possible and that you are putting yourself in the best position to play successful golf wherever your destination may be.
Finally, the core of your packing will be for clothes and other essentials you need for both golf and any additional activities you’ll be doing on your vacation. Personally, I try to travel with just a carry-on and a personal item — my golf clubs already count as my first checked bag, and the extra cost to take more luggage can add up over the course of a trip.
That being said, be sure to pack enough golf clothes for however many rounds you aim to play, and maybe pack an extra outfit just in case. Socks, belts, hats, and other clothing accessories are easy to forget, so be sure to prioritize the little things when packing. Additionally, save some space in your bags for any additional merchandise you aim to purchase on your trip. You don’t want to buy three brand-new polos from the resort just to figure out that you don’t have the space to pack them.
Don’t forget your regular, non-golf essentials as well. Extra clothes, shoes to wear besides your golf spikes, toiletries, and your personal technology (phone, laptop, tablet, and chargers) all need to find space in your luggage. I’m a big fan of reading during flights, so I’m always sure to pack a book or two in my carry-on backpack. These small items don’t ruin a trip if you forget them, but it’s nice to travel while being as relaxed as possible — no one wants to waste vacation time shopping for a new toothbrush.
Find the Right Balance
As a golfer and a traveler, I would have to say that finding the right balance for yourself is the key when it comes to packing. As nice as it is to have everything you could possibly need, you also have to carry around and keep track of everything that you bring with you, and that can become a taxing responsibility when you just want to have fun and enjoy yourself.
Be sure to discuss with your fellow vacation buddies what everyone else is bringing so that you don’t forget something essential. Maybe someone wants a deck of cards for when golf has ended for the day or an extra cigar cutter in case one gets lost in transit or on a course. There are countless trinkets and additional accessories you could pack.
Purchase any liquids over three ounces at your destination; don’t waste space on items that can’t make it through TSA boarding. Being sure of what is already provided at your destination is also key — don’t waste space on a cooler when you’re going to play at a place that builds them right into your golf cart. When in doubt, do your homework and rest assured that most of the things you’d forget can be replaced for under $20 when you get to your destination.
As always, feel free to run your golf travel and packing ideas by me or another Curated Expert. We’d be happy to help you go over your checklist and any last-minute necessities you may want to purchase. Happy travels!