The worst part about flying to golf destinations is lugging around your clubs. Hauling them from the car to the parking lot shuttle to the check-in counter, then from the carousel to the rental car (or another shuttle or taxi) is the price we pay to play exotic golf destinations with our own sticks. Maybe worse is just loading and unloading the clubs. It's always worth the extra tip after that final round to get the cart boys to do it for me.
Also, I'm not a fan of the hard covers. They're too bulky and difficult to load and unload out of cars and I'm not sure the well padded soft covers don't provide just as much protection.
With that said, some soft travel covers are better -- much better, in fact -- than others when it comes to the three most important functions of a cover: protection, ease of use, and ease of transport.
Here are five of my favorites.
Bag Boy T-750
The latest Bay Boy travel cover, the T-750, has many features from its high-end travel covers like the T-2000, but at a value price of $99. It has an extra-thick four-sided padded top with high density foam and impact resistant PVC to protect your clubs, in-line skate wheels for easy maneuvering, reinforced corners, an oversized shoe pocket, an internal compression strap (to keep it from moving around), and one of my favorite features -- a full-size flap that opens in the front instead of just a zipper opening. This makes it so much easier to get clubs in and out of it than many other travel bags on the market.
I do, however, think the T-2000, is still a bargain at $200. If offers extra protection, plus an ergonomic swivel grip, which makes it easier to turn corners and is easier on your wrist. Plus I like the two large garment bags on the side, which make it possible (if the airline doesn't prohibit it) to pack extra apparel or even laundry.
ClubGlove Last Bag
For the past two decades, this has been the bag of choice for tour professionals and serious players alike. Why? Because it's virtually indestructible. (That's why they call it the Last Bag -- the last bag you'll ever need.) I've had mine for 15 years and used it on more than 200 flights. Try as they might, the airlines haven't been able to put this bag out of service. Well padded with a tough waterproof cover and hard plastic wheelbase that extends well up the back of the bag, I'd trust this bag -- as well as most of the others listed here -- more than I would a hard case. Price: $300.
Like the ClubGlove, the Ogio Monster has plenty of protection. But the best feature about this easy-to-load travel cover, besides it being one of the largest on the market, is that it stands up all by itself. It doesn't roll in that position, but when you're taking it out of the car or off the carousel, you can leave it in a stand-up position so you don't have to bend down to retrieve it, which your back will thank you for later. The Ogio Monster bag also has loads of storage space and mega protection, as much as any golf travel cover on the market. Price: $255.
Sun Mountain ClubGlider Tour
The extension wheels and legs that pop out of the bottom of Sun Mountain's ClubGlider may very well be the single best innovation ever in travel covers. My only concern is their durability over the long haul. I had one that lost two of its wheels after two flights a few years ago, but the new designs are supposed to be more durable than previous models. With that said, there's not an easier travel cover to pull or push around the airport. It really does glide with one finger, making those long hauls to the rental car so much easier. Price: $319.
Ping Folding Travel Cover
The Ping Folding Travel Cover is certainly more than adequate in all respects -- urethane wheels, thick upper padding, rugged, heavy-duty zippers and three straps around the bag to keep everything tight. What is doesn't have is extra pockets for storage of shoes and clothing, but you can always put that inside with your clubs, no problem. What sets it apart is how easy it folds. In fact, it has a handle at the fold, making it far less bulky than other covers when transporting without the clubs. That proves valuable once you reach your destination, whether leaving it in a rental car or storing it in your hotel room while your clubs are being used. Price: $225.