How to Fly with Golf Clubs

Published on 03/14/2023 · 6 min readPlanning an upcoming golf trip? Golf Expert Adam Ditcher shares how to best fly with your clubs so they are safe and hassle-free during transport.
Adam Ditcher, Golf Expert
By Golf Expert Adam Ditcher

Photo courtesy of TaylorMade

One of the beautiful things about golf is that the game can travel all around the world. As players look around the globe, there are countless opportunities for them to try courses that they see on television during PGA Tour tournaments. It’s one of the things that makes golf special—most basketball fans can’t go practice their free throws at Madison Square Garden.

Any golf trip you take will be talked about between you and your friends forever. I personally just returned from a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic and got to play a couple of the Donald-Ross-designed courses there. As amazing as that experience was, any traveling comes with another experience that many golf fans dread—flying with golf clubs.

If you’re looking to go away and play some golf, fear not. Having just gone through this process myself, I am here to give you tips on how to get your beloved golf set and accessories to and from your final destination as painlessly as possible.

Research Your Airline

After you’ve decided on where you’re traveling to, the process starts with researching your airlines. Not only does this homework save you excess costs on your airline tickets, but it can also save you money and hassle when determining the best way to get your clubs to and from the course, no matter where you are going.

One major consideration is whether you want to put your clubs into checked luggage with the airline or ship your set of golf clubs to your final destination. Currently, shipping costs are through the roof, so this was not as much of a consideration for my most recent trip. Still, it’s worth keeping in mind, as there will be times when you can send your golf clubs through FedEx for a more reasonable fee. It’s worth considering if you’ve ever been through the hassle of checking your clubs and hauling them throughout the airport, not to mention the potential of having a club shaft snap in transit.

Secure Your Clubs

Photo courtesy of Cobra

If you do decide to fly with clubs, your next step is to make sure that the clubs are packed as securely as possible to avoid finding damaged clubs upon arrival. One easy way to protect your clubs is to travel with a hard case instead of a soft case. Both are available through Curated (like this hardshell case!), and although soft cases are generally cheaper, they are also malleable when being thrown around during transit—weight from other bags can put too much pressure on your golf clubs and cause damage. Hard cases, being rigid and made of plastic, will protect the clubs better from shifting luggage and careless airport employees who may toss your luggage while loading or unloading the plane.

Be sure to also put headcovers on your clubs to avoid having them create dents on one another when colliding during your flight. If you’re not in the club of people who have iron headcovers (or maybe any headcovers at all), using bubble wrap around each club head will keep them safe and help your clubs retain resale value and performance.

It is often easiest to throw additional golf necessities—spikes, extra golf balls, and tees—in with your golf bag and ship them all within your travel case. In fact, I used my travel case to hold contact solution that I couldn’t bring in my carry-on, as well as a couple of other trip necessities. However, adding extra belongings to your bag also adds weight, so make sure you know what your airline’s weight restrictions on checked luggage are when you’re packing your golf equipment.

You don’t want to be stuck paying overweight baggage fees, especially if it can be avoided with additional planning and by cutting down your golf bag to contain only the necessities. Any extra padding you packed your clubs with to avoid damages also can add weight, so be sure to either weigh your bag ahead of time if you have the ability to do so or save extra room in another lighter travel bag to move belongings out of your travel case if you arrive at the airport and come in over the weight limit.

Personally, I flew American Airlines down to the Dominican Republic to get to Casa de Campo and the weight limit for checked bags was 50 pounds. My bag checked in right at 48 pounds, so I was barely good to go—anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a very heavy golf bag. Chances are you’ll have no problems, but it’s just another concern to be aware of when trying to fly with your golf clubs.

Pick Up Your Luggage

Photo by Joey Genco

Golfers traveling with their clubs should also be aware of the differences in checked luggage pickup between different airports. In my own travels, I’ve been to multiple airports that simply put golf clubs on the luggage conveyor belt at baggage claim. Usually, there aren’t any issues finding your bag, and this is generally the first place that you should check for your belongings.

However, some airports will funnel all golf bags into an oversized-luggage pickup area, which I also came across in my travels. Please learn from my mistakes and do not immediately panic when your clubs don’t show up in the baggage claim. Instead, take a moment to look around the airport for an oversized-luggage sign. Chances are high that your travel bag was redirected and can be found in this area.

It is also worth noting that a few airports require golf clubs to be checked in as oversized luggage in a different area than the regular check-in line for the airline you are flying with. Be sure to arrive at the airport with plenty of time before your flight to navigate these differences and ensure that you don’t arrive at your dream golf destination without your clubs. Rentals can get expensive and are never as fun as your own equipment you’ve grown to know and love/hate.

Last Tips

Whenever you’re traveling out of the country, whether you’re going to the Dominican Republic like I did or a links golf trip to Ireland or Scotland, it is crucially important that you arrive at the airport at least two hours before your flight to guarantee that your checked luggage makes it on the plane. With the additional measures that go into bringing things across international borders, it is especially important to arrive in plenty of time to ensure that your clubs are allowed to be checked into your flight and fly with the airline.

If you’ve never traveled outside of the United States before, please familiarize yourself with the additional flight restrictions and rules that come with going outside of the country, especially now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Having traveled internationally both before the pandemic and now, there are even more areas where your trip can hit a hiccup because there are additional hoops to jump through, so to speak. No matter where you are going, it is crucial that you understand everything you need to do to make it through the airport and flight process as painlessly as possible.

If you need any help getting your golf gear to your next travel destination without emptying your pockets, please reach out to me or another Golf Expert here at Curated. We are happy to set you up with the right gear and accessories that will get you to your dream course and have the experience of a lifetime.

Be sure to check out my other article about how to pack for a golf trip and ensure you aren’t forgetting anything you don’t want to pay to replace at your destination!

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