It’s off-season for many golfers in the northern states of the US. Time to take a break from those early morning tee times and take time to do some “in-door” golf, i.e. at computer-generated golf courses or with a temporary indoor putting green in the middle of the living room.
For those golfers determined to play all year round and are traveling south to warmer climes, a golf travel bag becomes a necessary purchase. Whether you are traveling by plane or train, your golf clubs need protection. (A few years ago, traveling to Hilton Head for golf, one of the women in our group had the head of her very expensive driver snapped off when a careless baggage handler tossed her golf travel bag onto the tarmac. The airline gave her some monetary compensation, but as the driver was not brand new, the amount was not equal to the cost of replacement. – That’s another story.) The point is that your clubs represent a large investment and they need to be protected when you travel.
So which bag is best? Hard case? Soft case? Your choice might depend on how much you travel with your golf clubs, how much extra space you need for shoes, balls, towels, etc. (I stuff all kinds of extra stuff in my bag, including my bed pillow! which helps give a little extra padding. And with the airlines charging you extra for that second bag anyway, why not stuff the golf travel bag with clothes as well?)
Here are a few types of travel bags you might consider using on your next golf trip.
Heavy Duty Soft Bag: This style is used by more touring professionals on the PGA, Champions, and LPGA tours – choose a bag with wheels that makes it easy to maneuver. Check to be sure the padding is extra thick to protect your clubs and choose a bag that has lots of extra pockets with solid zippers so you can carry all those “extra” items.
Hybrid Bag: This type of bag can be used both the golf course and while traveling. Look for one that offers all the features of a cart bag, and has a rigid “helmet” you can add when you take it on the road. Choose a bag with in-line wheels for an easier time crossing those long airport lobbies.
Hi-Impact Polyester Travel Bag: This type of bag has a cloth cover but should be reinforced with some interior lamination, usually using PVC. Soft sides should be well padded. Quilted material is best. And be sure to test the bag strap for easy carrying and the wheels for a smooth glide.
The bottom line in deciding which type of golf travel bag you purchase depends on the amount of traveling you plan on doing, how much protection you need, and the value of your clubs. Soft cases with lots of padding are lighter, and easier to handle, and they protect your clubs in most circumstances. Hard cases are usually heavier but promise better protection, though they can snap open unless you add strapping for security. Almost every travel case can fit 14 clubs plus your golf bag, but if you have an extra long driver, be sure the length of the travel bag can accommodate it. You don’t want to leave that special club at home!
Ask your golfing friends. Visit a variety of websites to see what they offer. But remember, you get what you pay for. Do you really want to put your thousand dollar clubs inside a $29 bag you bought at the local Big Lots?