Of all the questions we get about golf vacations, ones that we're hearing most frequently concern shipping golf clubs.
With airport security requiring that golf travel bags and golf club shipping containers be unlocked (or locked only with TSA-approved locks) and airlines imposing stricter (and more expensive) baggage allowances and weight limits, it's really no surprise.
Here's the lowdown on shipping golf clubs: if you don't need someone to help pack your clubs, delivery speed is not a major concern, and you're not shipping internationally, the least expensive method for shipping golf clubs is by using one of the large package delivery companies: FedEx, UPS, or DHL (which no longer ships within the USA). This is what the specialized luggage and golf club shipping companies ultimately use, anyway.
The least expensive service level is ground service, which takes about four business days depending where you're shipping from/to. The specialized luggage and golf club shipping services (such as Luggage Forward and Golf Bag Shipping) start to get price competitive when you're looking for faster delivery.
Some carriers may require that your clubs be in a box, but otherwise, just pack your clubs in your golf travel case the way you would if you were taking them on the airplane and affix the shipping label that the carrier will provide. If possible, plan ahead as expedited delivery is much more expensive.
Certain companies will pick up golf club shipments from residential and business addresses without requiring you to open a special account that hits you with weekly/monthly charges. (You can often avoid these charges by dropping your bag off at a company dropoff location if available).
Also keep in mind that shipping golf clubs round trip is not like buying an airline ticket, where the cost of each segment works out to be less than if you purchased them individually.
When shipping golf clubs, you are buying each segment individually, so the price you pay to send them out will likely be the same to send them back.
Speaking of prices, we tested eight of the major golf club shipping services (including Fed Ex golf club shipping, UPS golf club shipping and the good ol' United States Postal Service) with three sample shipments -- two within the USA and one international -- and found out:
- The costs and speeds for each
- What they consider to be a "standard" golf bag (and the applicable overages)
- How much their "insurance" costs and whether it's worth it
- Their pickup/dropoff options
- A sweet discount code for one of the specialized golf club shipping services
- A list of websites selling golf club shipping boxes