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Flying with Golf Clubs Without a Travel Bag

Flying with Golf Clubs Without a Travel Bag
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You love to travel and would love to take your clubs on the plane, but don’t know if you need or want a golf travel bag.  

In this article you will find the benefits, risks, and a guide to help you bring your beloved sticks on your next trip.  

Flying with golf clubs without a travel bag is definitely an option as long as you prepare accordingly. 

Benefits of Not Using a Golf Travel Bag

1. Cost 

The price of travel bags can be a challenge for some.  Based on our research on Amazon the cost of various golf travel bags can range from $40 on the low end to $400 on the high end and everything in between.

2. Convenience 

Not having to take your existing golf bag and putting it in another saves a lot of time and effort.  It can be very awkward trying to navigate your clubs in that secondary giant suitcase.

3. No Storage

Owning a travel bag means it needs to be stored at your house/rental and in the hotel/rental on your trip.   This can be a pain!

4. Space Savings 

Eliminating that extra container means a lighter carry and a much easier piece of luggage to load and unload into your vehicle.  

In many cases that extra shell makes your golf clubs difficult or impossible to fit into one of those compact vehicles especially if you are sharing a car with 3 or more people.  

5. Saves Weight

Without a golf bag you can add more goodies to your golf bag.  Most airlines allow at least 40 lbs or 50 lbs of weight for over sized luggage.  

A typical bag and full set of clubs would be about 22 lbs leaving you with the ability to add more stuff for your epic trip.

Risks of not Using a Golf Travel Bag

1. Club Damage 

Using only a regular golf bag provides less padding or even a hard shell to protect your golf clubs.  If the bag were to be hit by an irate luggage attendant, the clubs or bag stands may snap.

2. Bag Damage 

A regular golf bag would be directly exposed to conveyor belts and the elements. Depending on the golf bag's construction and material there is a chance of the bag tearing,  getting stained, or dirty.  Imagine a dirty golf bag (first world problems)??

3. Security

It would be difficult to secure your regular golf bag with a lock or two.  If somebody happens to lift your golf bag and cover I am sure they know how to get into that travel bag without a problem.  A locked travel bag maybe a deterrent??

4. Cover

Generally the golf rain cover is not padded offering little or no protection for the club heads. 

How can I setup my golf bag to travel on a plane? 

1. Fill The Pockets  

This is killing two birds with one stone.  Not only do you get some added padding but you lighten the load of your carry-on bag or eliminating it all together.   

Underwear and socks go well in the smaller pockets. Rolled up shirts and pants can go in the longer side pockets.

Shoes and flip flops also go well in the side pockets.  Fill them to the point the zippers aren’t bursting. 

2. Tape Your Longest Iron to Your Driver​

Put your longest iron against your driver leaving the club head cover on the driver. Using packing tape, tape them together with the iron slightly above the driver head.

This helps protect your driver especially if you have steel shafts in your irons.  See the picture below.

Take Golf Clubs on a Plane

3. Tape Your Second Longest Iron To Your Three Wood/Five Wood​

Doing the same with your 3 wood gives you even one more line of defense, and strengthens the load.

4. Put Your Driver, Woods, and Hybrids in the Middle Pockets​

Depending on your pocket arrangement put the taped clubs and any graphite clubs in the middle.  This gives added protection from impact to the top and side of the bags. Put the rest of the irons and putter on the outside pockets. The tall clubs will be in the middle.

How to pack golf bag

5. Fill the Rain Cover/Club Head Sections with Clothing​

With the rain cover on but unzipped intertwine additional clothing like shorts and lighter shirts among the club heads giving the clubs even more padding from unsuspecting blows.  Now your carry on is getting even lighter.

Golf bag protection device

6. Remove the Shoulder Straps

Put your shoulder strap or straps in a pocket.  Generally the airlines don’t want a bag with a bunch of loose straps waiting to get wrapped in their fancy bag machines or employees.

7. Use Tape if Needed​

Once you bag is fully packed and padded it is an option to tape up any loose straps or zippers at your discretion.   Take it easy on the tape you may be spending more on tape than a golf travel bag is worth.

Are There Hybrid Golf Travel Bags?

Now days there are literally hundreds of different styled golf bags that can perform many different functions.  

For the avid traveler who wants protection, function in a golf bag that can be put safely on a plane (drum roll please) in comes the Hybrid Golf Travel Bag.   

These bags are really cool!   The bag itself is built for travel with a more solid frame and a firmer removable cover to protect your prized weapons.   

Wheels and a special handle are often part of the design making it the ultimate airport tag along. 

When you are not travelling just leave the cover at home and now you have a regular golf bag for your favorite course.  

Click Here to see 3 great hybrid golf travel bags reviewed for your convenience. 

To Bag or Not to Bag

This is not intended to be advice for birth control. My first pick is to use a light weight soft padded travel bag with wheels they are easy to store, load, and move.  

Secondly I sometimes take my clubs without a travel bag using the techniques above.  To date I have not had any casualties.

If you just don’t want to travel with a golf bag find a specialized golf club rental company in your favorite golf meca.  Popular golf travel destinations usually have these companies.

Click Here if you happen to be traveling to Phoenix and need some golf club rentals.  This option is often less expensive than Ship Stix or renting them at the course.

Here’s to another great golf trip!

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