Forgive me for stating the obvious, but flying is expensive.
And if you're a golfer, flying with your clubs can make it downright scary.
Yes, we're fans of golf club shipping and rentals, but (like many of you have told us) there are times when we simply prefer traveling with our clubs.
The good news is, there are still a number of ways to travel with your clubs for free (or without paying crazy high fees).
Here are some of our favorite programs and methods:
1. Fly Southwest Airlines
It may be only a matter of time before this colorful carrier caves, but for now, your first two checked bags -- including golf bags in travel cases are free, round-trip, as long as they weigh less than 50 pounds.
2. Stay at an Omni Hotel or Resort
As part of its "Clubs Fly Free" program, Omni Hotels & Resorts has been reimbursing baggage fees for members of its Select Guest loyalty program (membership is free, it also includes complimentary Wi-Fi).
To receive the reimbursement, you simply present your checked bag receipt at check-in (the receipt must be dated within two days of your arrival) and a credit will be applied at checkout.
By the way, Omni Hotels and Resorts has quietly built an impressive collection of golf resorts in the US. The chain made a bold move in June of 2013 when it reached a deal with KSL Capital Partners to acquire La Costa Resort and Spa, The Homestead, Barton Creek Resort & Spa, as well as Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage and the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. Other notable properties flying the Omni flag include Tucson National Resort, Mount Washington Resort in New Hampshire, Bedford Springs Resort in Pennsylvania, and two Florida properties: Amelia Island Plantation Resort and ChampionsGate in Orlando.
The only bad news: Omni's Clubs Fly Free program is currently valid through August 31. Here's hoping they choose to extend it...or at least re-start it in May like they did this year.
3. Join a Frequent Flyer Program (Even if You're Not a Frequent Flyer)
We all know frequent flyers get tons of perks -- including getting their checked bag fees waived -- but sometimes simply being a member of one of these (free) programs lands you similar benefits. For example, Alaska residents who join Alaska Airlines' "Club 49" program pay no fees for their first two checked bags (including golf clubs).
4. Get an Airline Credit Card
Similar to joining an airline's frequent flier program, some or all of your baggage fees can be waived for airline credit card holders. For example, United MileagePlus Club cardholders can check two bags for free and Delta SkyMiles cardholders can check one bag for free.
5. Fly KLM
If you're traveling to or around Europe on KLM Airlines, you can join the "Flying Blue - Golf" program and fly your clubs free to your destination. You simply fill and print out a special voucher and redeem it when you check in.
6. Travel Light and Fly Internationally
Unlike most domestic flights, many international flights spot you the first bag for free. So, if you can cram your clothes and toothbrush into a carry-on, you'll pay nothing for your golf clubs.
Do you know other ways to fly with your golf clubs for free? Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.