Horror Stories about Traveling with Your Golf Clubs

Do you have any horror stories about traveling with your golf clubs?

Here are some of my recent ones:

1. On a personally important golf trip to Cabo San Lucas, the airline lost two of our six bags, one of which was a set of clubs. Not to be outdone, the return crew lost two sets of clubs...

2. Ten minutes before takeoff, my group heading from San Francisco to Bandon Dunes was bumped off the flight because all the clubs and bags pushed the small plane over its weight limit...

3. Last year, four of us heading to Hilton Head thought we'd save some money by flying with our clubs instead of shipping them. Well, in addition to each of us paying about $70 roundtrip to check the golf bags, we were forced to rent a large SUV -- for about $100 more per day -- to get them, our other bags, and us to the hotel.  Our "savings" was -$480.

I'm not saying you should never travel with your golf clubs, but these stories illustrate lessons I had to learn the hard way:

Number one: If misrouted clubs is going to ruin an important trip, it's worth it to ship them.

Number two: If any leg of golf trip involves a small airplane, check in super early. We didn't do this and it's why we got bounced. If you don't like wasting time in airports, again, shipping might be a better option.

Number three: If you're purely interested in the price of shipping vs. schlepping, you have to factor in the size of the rental car you may need to fit your big golf travel bags and other stuff. As I mentioned above, had we shipped, we could have rented a far less expensive car.

In case you're interested, lately, I've been very happy using a company called Ship Sticks (shipsticks.com) to ship my clubs.

They're one of the newer firms in this space, but apparently only because they spent a lot of time prepping for the party:

Their website is by far the easiest to use, and their prices -- which include an initial $1,000 of insurance -- are often lower than what you'll get by going directly to FedEx and UPS.

So, do you have any horror stories about traveling with your golf clubs? Have you found that shipping them is a better option?

Please share your comments or read what others are saying below.

Craig Better is one of the founding editors of Golf Vacation Insider. In addition to traveling to 15 foreign countries, he has twice traveled across America to play golf courses in all 50 United States. Prior to joining Golf Vacation Insider, Craig was a freelance writer who contributed to GOLF Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf, Maxim Magazine, USAToday.com, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.
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Commented on

I used shipstix from Boston to Florida and back. Clubs made it there but big problem with FedEx delivery when it got back to my home. They left the clubs in my driveway in front of my garage door. First the clubs were in plain view of anyone walking by and could have been stolen and also when I got in my car in the garage and opened the garage door I did not see the clubs laying there and drive over then breaking the shafts of my driver, 9 iron and my bag stand. Terrible experience dealing with Shipstix as they would not replace my two shafts. They were rude and arrogant. The 1000 dollar insurance they claim to give you is worthless. I would never use them again.

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I've used ShipSticks a few times. Each time, I received my clubs on time. But, also, each time, I had to shell out for a new box and packing because UPS smashed the box *SMASHED*. Frankly, I've been amazed that I haven't yet had any damage to my clubs through UPS. I took my clubs with me on AA my last trip. The clubs arrived 10 hours late, in the middle of the night. That was fun. On my return, TSA apparently dumped out my entire bag and stuffed everything back in, then left all the buckles on my clubglove bag hanging open--nice. I don't know how well ShipSticks via FEDEX works, but I would be inclined to try them going forward. If I receive my clubs in a smashed box when using ShipSticks FEDEX, I guess I'll just have to stop taking golf vacations.

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I had a HORRIBLE experience with #shipsticks Internationally. They may be great for domestic shipping, but we didn't get our clubs until the last day of our trip. Golf trip ruined. Clubs got held up in customs. Apparently you can't pack any other items (shoes, golf pants, or golf shirts) in your travel bag, so you may want to revise your article. The problem I have is this was never stated in email communication or in their "Prohibited Items" terms. I paid almost $400 for this service, which was supposed to be hassle free. I will be checking my bags in from now on. Big thumbs down with the way they handled this.

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I used Ship Sticks in January to get my clubs out to Vegas. The service was excellent and easy to set up. They even called me to confirm shipping dates.

My clubs made it out and back right on schedule. I wanted to note however that if you are looking to ship clubs to a hotel (particularly in Vegas) the hotel itself will impose a "handling fee" of $40 on each end! I was shocked to say the least as this was an unknown expense.

Perhaps shipping directly to a golf course would be a better option next time (not sure if they would surcharge you?). I unfortunately was unsure where we would be playing before making my way out there. Also, UPS is rough on packages and broke a buckle off my hard shell case (still waiting on the insurance claim).

Commented on

@Thumper. checking bags means that they get examine by the TSA, this doesn't happen when shipped. My bike has to be packed in a special way to be in the hardside case. TSA doesn't care, they just slam it back together. This has happened. Now my bike is shipped locked. And a nominal amount of insurance is automatically included.

The TSA opens a bag and they don't take care to make sure if they removed something it is back in the bag. I lost a golf tool and headcovers for their carelessness. Neither the TSA nor the Airline would take responsibility for the loss. Now, I've never lost my clubs yet on the airline.

The airlines make me sign a waiver every time that they aren't responsible for damage. I've watched bags sit on the tarmac in the rain and bounce off the luggage trailers. I'll trust any of these shipping services, and the baggage fees v. the shipping it's about the same. For me.

Definitely ship them now.

Commented on

Have been traveling with my sticks for 9 years now (two trips a month). USAir is my main air carrier and they have never lost or damaged my golf package. I am knocking on wood!!

Did have a NWA flight, a few years back, to Arkansas...they lost my clubs. I complained and they said get a receipt for rental clubs and they will reimburse me. I did and they did. They found my clubs three days later and called the hotel four hours before my flight home!!!

I would think that if one used these other services, that they are shipping them via a cargo carrier or airline and the same malady may occur with these carriers?? The other problem I see with shipping service is you have lost the use of your sticks for a few days.

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Traveled to the East coast several years ago with a new travel bag, new golf bag, new rain suit, almost new everything. The travel bag got caught in a conveyor belt and it tore everything up, including cutting golf balls in half. Surprisingly, American paid me $800+, which almost got me to even. I like the idea of shipping to most places these days.

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We were traveling from Indianapolis to Miami.I had purchased a new set of Ping irons,woods, new golf bag and placed my Foot Joy (Dry Joy) golf shoes in the bag.The cover was ,also,new. My Clubs never made to Miami Airport.
Airline reimbursed me $300.00 only.(Less than cost of a Driver).It ruined my trip.
Lesson: Ship clubs ,fully insured.

Use old Bag Cover as thieves are not attracted to the used,old things.
Take,used Pair of shoes instead of $175.00 pair.
If Plane is small,pray hard that your clubs will be on it.

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What is this mystique that marketers have cast upon people that shipping clubs is better than checking them? From a purely practical, logistical perspective, those clubs have to be flown, either by cargo (which is no more of a guarantee!) or contracted commercial flights. Either way, they have a possibility of getting delayed, lost, and/or damaged. I guarantee you that the hucksters selling these services are NOT personally transporting your sticks from point A to B. If they are personally using their private plane and the chain of custody NEVER leaves them personally, go for it. Otherwise, one can argue checking them has a much greater chance of them arriving than shipping as there are far fewer touch points/change of custody. The only argument I can see for shipping is that the time window is greater for them getting there so there is more of a time buffer for them to get there on time. The downside is: you lose the use of those sticks for a greater length of time, probably greater cost, and most likely an increased chance of damage (more touch points, change of custody). I have never shipped and never will and I sum up these services in one word: SUCKER!

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I used ShipSticks to ship my clubs from Cincinnati to Florida and back......they were picked up on time and delivered in perfect condition and the price was very reasonable. Will definitely use them again - much cheaper than the airlines oversize baggage fees and more reliable.

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