This time of year many of us travel to see family and friends, or just get away from said family and friends.
If you're heading somewhere that doesn't have snow on the ground, there may be a chance that you're taking your clubs. After all, what's a holiday without a round or three of golf?
There is also the chance that you may leave the sticks at home and rent a set at the course. This is always a good idea if the thought of you playing golf while with the family on a holiday trip isn't likely to be met with unbridled enthusiasm by the family.
The last time I went to visit family and rented a set, I was a little less than excited by what I saw in the bag. While I wasn't expecting a $1,000 set of rental clubs, I was hoping for something a little better than I what I wound up with.
My set consisted of a pretty good driver, a model from about a half-decade ago. The fairway woods were one of the first steel headed woods of their kind. The grips must have been original as they were as hard as my head and slick as ice. The irons were a mixed-match of three or four different brands and two of the wedges were the same loft. The putter came from a miniature golf course. You know, the ones with the plastic heads.
Only five or six of the clubs in this set had grips that I could actually hold onto. I should have suspected something was up when the course only charged me $5 to rent them.
Somewhere on the front nine I decided that no matter how hard it was, the next time I traveled and intended to play golf, my trusty sticks were coming with me.
A friend of mine who listened to my rant about the clubs I rented had a simple solution. If you're driving, take all the clubs out of your bag and place them in the trunk or back of the van. If necessary, bring only half the set. I could have easily found a spot for my driver, putter, a wedge, a hybrid and four irons. I shook my head at how stupid I was for not thinking of that at the time.
If you actually have the room, packing your clubs can be a breeze. Just use a lot of common sense and think light, especially when you're flying to your destination.
Take as light a golf bag as possible. Many seasoned golf travelers have a light carry bag, one that fits easily into their travel bag. Make sure that the travel bag is easily identifiable. When shopping for a travel cover, look for one that has room for that extra long driver, your shoes, a sweater or a jacket and maybe even a change of clothes. The airlines will no longer allow you to lock your checked bags, so take a thorough inventory of what's in the bag.
Take your golf balls out of your bag and pack them in your suitcase. This saves a tremendous amount of weight. To trim even more, leave the balls at home and buy them when you get to the course.
To prevent your clubs from clanking and scratching, wrap your towels around the heads and put the rain cover on. To help protect that extra-long driver, cut a broom handle down to about two inches longer than your driver and place it in the golf bag. This puts any pressure on the broom handle and not your precious clubs. Cut a hole in a tennis ball and use it to cover the end so that the handle won't rip through the bag.
While waiting for your luggage in the baggage claim area, find out where the oversized bags are unloaded. Bags that are too big for the carousels are often brought out separately and staged in a different area.
If you're renting a car, look around for the rental counters when you get to the baggage claim area. Most travelers retrieve their luggage and then head for the rental car counters, which tend to get busy all at once. It's a good idea to consider getting your car first. Chances are the line will be shorter and it's a lot better than watching strange luggage go around and around and around.
Whatever you do when traveling, be sure to call the course first if you are depending on them for clubs to play your round with. Golf is difficult enough without having to use equipment that's impossible to play with.
James Stammer has been an avid golfer and golf enthusiast for nearly 40 years. He hosts the Thursday night golf show on WSTU 1450-AM. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.