How to Pack Your Golf Clubs for a Flight So They Always Arrive in One Piece

You might think I am obsessive after reading how I pack my golf clubs, but I've flown with them on a lot of golf trips and never once opened my travel bag to find a damaged club (although somewhere there is a baggage handler making his way around a golf course with my driver).

Here are my tips on protective packing, and, of course, I'd love to hear yours, too.

The Theory:

If a club breaks in transit, it usually happens where the clubhead meets the shaft.

Think about it: the rest of the club is protected by the "shell" of the golf bag, but the head sticks out and bears the weight of anything placed on top of it.

So, my entire approach revolves around protecting that point -- where the clubheads meets the shafts.

The Approach

In the old days, I would turn my woods upside down so the heads were inside the bag with the shafts sticking up, but with today's narrower dividers and oversize heads (particularly on drivers) that's usually impossible.

Instead, I go with a "strength in numbers," approach.

For example, a single wooden chopstick is pretty easy to break, right? But bundle 10 chopsticks together and even Dustin Johnson can't break them.

Same idea here: I simply group all the clubs as closely together as possible, preferably will all the shafts in a single section of the bag (see the before and after photos below). It helps to throw a sock over your irons (and putter) to keep them together, and may reduce scratches, too.

Note, too, that I place my tallest club, my driver, in between my other woods/hybrids. The club that sticks up the most is usually going to be the most susceptible to breakage, so I try to insulate it as much as possible.

Once that's done, I throw my rain hood over the whole thing to keep everything in place and as a precaution against rain or leaking engine oil (although if the latter is happening, ruined golf clubs don't seem like such a big deal).

Finally, I put this setup into my golf travel bag.

Once inside, I try to fill up any space above and below the clubheads to further reduce any stress/flex put on them.

In this photo (on my driveway so you could more easily see what I mean), I've placed my shoe bag under the clubheads.

On top, I'll usually put a rolled up golf towel or two.

By the way, there's a product you can buy that largely achieves the same effect as all this.

It's called the Stiff Arm and one of my colleagues never travels without it.

Made by the same company that makes the Club Glove, it's basically a telescoping closet rod with a small frisbee on one end.

Placed down the center of your golf bag and extended up to the top of the inside of your travel bag, it becomes the tallest "club" in your bag and takes the brunt of any weight placed on your gear.

So, am I a freak when it comes to packing my clubs, or do you, too, go to great lengths to ensure they arrive in one piece?

Please share your favorite packing tips or see 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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How to Pack Your Golf Clubs for a Flight So They Always Arrive in One Piece
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