I read an article on "Things Every Man Should Have" recently, and while I didn't necessarily agree with all the choices, it got me wondering:
What are the things that every traveling golfer absolutely must have?
I came up with these 10 things, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on them and your own nominations.
A good rain suit - You may be a fair-weather golfer at home. You may even adhere to the 50-degree rule, or even the 60-degree rule. I won't judge you for that, but if you find yourself somewhere like Bandon Dunes or Kohler and the forecast calls for rain, you can bet I'll judge you for skipping bucket-list golf on account of a little precipitation.
A rain suit is basically an insurance policy for your golf travels. It may be expensive, but when you need it, it's worth every penny. We think highly of the rain suits made by Kjus, but we also find great protection and swing mobility from the likes of Galvin Green and FootJoy.
One of those stain sticks - Packing light is a wonderful thing...until you get barbecue sauce on the shirt you were planning on wearing again the day after tomorrow. A stain stick is about the size of a pen, but its butt-saving quotient is off the charts. Along those lines, bring a couple zip-top bags with you. They've saved many a smartphone from the rain, not to mention other little things that would really stink if you lost/ruined them.
A strategy for when the wheels fall off - We all want to play well, especially on special courses. Well, if it's just not in the cards on a given day, knowing how to downshift into a swing that's "good enough" can transform a round -- and the remaining days of your vacation -- from utter annoyance to "acceptable" or even "satisfying."
TSA Pre Check - Many veteran visitors to Disney World and its myriad theme parks laud the time-saving convenience of the FastPass, which enables them to skip the hellaciously long lines at many rides. TSA Pre Check is a FastPass for travelers. For an $85 fee, you can skip the security lines at major airports, saving lots of time and headache. It's a great way to start any golf trip.
Rain gloves - Technically you could argue that this is part of a good rain suit, but if you're somewhere hot and it starts drizzling, being able to keep the club from slipping out of your hands becomes more important than keeping your legs and forearms bone-dry. FootJoy makes a great pair of rain gloves. They cost $20 and will last for years.
A good travel case for your clubs - Along similar lines to a rain suit, knowing how roughly golf bags can be treated by baggage handlers, it's better to be safe than sorry you didn't spring for something that secures your precious cargo. Our favorite? The ClubGlider by Sun Mountain (pictured above).
At the very least, you must plunk down the $30 to buy a ClubGlove Stiff Arm, which redirects any impact onto itself and away from your clubheads.
Small bills - Wherever you go, you will encounter a number of service providers whose livelihood is based largely on tips: bellhops, cart barn guys, housekeepers, etc. A couple bucks here and there goes a long way toward them making sure you have the best possible experience, rather than a merely good one. And if you're going somewhere with caddies, make sure you've got plenty of 20s on you for gratuities.
Noise-canceling headphones - Especially if your ears ache in airplanes, a nice-quality pair of noise-canceling earphones is a huge asset on a flight. And if you want to shut out the world while practicing or playing a solo round on your trip, they deserve a secure spot in your golf bag as well.
The Rules of Golf - Being an avid golfer and not carrying a copy of The Rules Of Golf is like being a chef and not carrying your trusted knives. Especially when you're playing away from home, weird situations can come up and if you're playing with anything on the line, it's best to be prepared to settle any potential disputes as quickly as possible.
A couple more pairs of socks than you think you'll need - "Overpacking" is an epidemic that should be stamped out, sure, but one category where it's okay to bring a little bit more than you might need is socks. Since many buddy trips involve going to lunch or dinner directly following golf, if you don't have time to shower, you'll at least feel better by donning a fresh pair of socks in the meantime. If you're looking to stock up, we love Kentwool's offerings (pictured above) in particular.
What are your must-have essentials as a frequent golf traveler? Please share with us in the comments!