By Scott Kramer
Golf travel is fun. But transporting your gear with you can be a major hassle — especially shlepping your clubs to and through airports. And the costs can add up: Airlines generally charge $25 to send your golf travel bag each way domestically, although some set you back twice that amount. And that’s if it’s your only checked-in luggage. Fees may double if you’re also checking in a suitcase. Plus you’ll be tipping the bellman at the resort to move the clubs into and out of the golf bag storage area.
You can always rent clubs at your destination. But that can frankly be both expensive ($50/day on up) and dicey: You can often be given clubs that you’re unfamiliar with and are not suited to your swing. As a golf writer, I take a lot of golf trips every year for work. And rental clubs — generally my favorite option, particularly for short excursions, can be hit or miss. I recall one recent multi-day trip when the clubs were so mis-gauged for my swing that it actually ruined the golf portion of my trip. The game is not fun when you cannot get the ball airborne.
So what’s a golfer to do? Ship the clubs ahead of time to your destination. Know up front that there can be drawbacks, such as being without your clubs for a few days immediately before and after your trip. But this method can also eliminate many of the hassles. Which is why several club shipping services have gained popularity the past five years. The most popular is Ship Sticks. It’s a West Palm Beach, Fla.-based company started and run by golfers, that’s been around since 2011.
I went to use it for a trip I’m taking next week. The process was simple. I called the company, told them where I live, where I was going to play golf, and how long I was going to be there. I could’ve used my own travel bag — had my father-in-law not taken it with him on his own golf trip. Instead, Ship Sticks sent me a box via FedEx, replete with pre-printed shipping labels for both directions. And they arranged a date to pick up the clubs at my home. Unfortunately, the day after the box arrived, I had to cancel the golf portion of my upcoming trip. So I was unable to use the service this time.
But several of my friends and colleagues have used it in the past. I’ve heard several praises of the service, and not one complaint. It can be a little pricey: Ship Sticks sends your clubs each way for $40 and up, depending on the weight of your bag and how quickly you need it to get there. But the convenience can outweigh the cost. The company arranges all of the back-end handling at the golf course. All you do is set your bag on your porch or at the front desk of your office, for initial pick-up. Then just show up at your destination course and the clubs will be ready for play. Whenever you want the clubs returned home — and from wherever — the company arranges for that. Next time you see the clubs is back home.
Playing golf more than once or twice on your trip can definitely justify using the service — based on the cost of rentals at most places. And while you can go directly with the likes of FedEx or UPS, those services are more expensive. There’s also a service called Luggage Forward that can do the task. Ship Sticks has its own in with the couriers, so its reps constantly keep track of exactly where your bag is at any time. The company also offers free base insurance of $1,000 on your clubs — included in your cost. But you can buy more.
When you take a golf trip, the courses you play are likely new. So it’s that much more important to have some level of familiarity to help you score well and enjoy the game. Playing your own clubs adds that level of comfort.
Scott Kramer is veteran, Southern California-based writer primarily versed in golf and personal technology. Studying Computer Sciences in college, and then working as a programmer/software engineer for about a decade, triggered my passion for today’s high-end, high-tech gadgets. I can’t help myself whenever I see any kind of cool new personal technology. I feel compelled to further check it out and see what it’s all about. And even if I have no use for it personally, I’m always thinking who it might best suit. There are exciting new innovations emerging daily that are shaping the future and simplifying life. And I hope to be your eyes to that world, through the words of this column.