Shipping golf clubs: a simpler way to travel

July 29, 2019
pilot shipping golf clubs by plane

They call it luggage because you have to lug it. Unless the airlines lose it. After charging a hefty excess baggage fee. No wonder the rise of shipping golf clubs and rental services, which spare you the hazards and headaches of hauling your own sticks around. Here are several outfits that aim to ease your mind by lightening your load.

It’s very appealing to simply stroll on a plane with a phone and a wallet or a purse, and little else. With the right golf club shipping service, you can make this dream scenario come true. When it comes to shipping golf clubs, convenience comes at a price. However, in many situations, it’s a surprisingly modest one.

Companies that specialize in shipping golf clubs cater to a niche market. They understand the needs of the traveling golfer. And, judging by the stellar reviews they often receive, they frequently provide exemplary service.

How important is it to play with your own clubs? If you’re in a tournament, you’ll definitely want to ship your own. The longer a golf vacation, the more attractive it becomes to either ship your own clubs or to arrange for a multi-day rental through a service like ClubHub or Clubs to Hire.

Airlines & Baggage Fees

Checked baggage fees are big business, amounting to more than $4.5 billion in 2017. In late 2018, Travel + Leisure reported additional increases in baggage fees. Checking a third bag can easily run more than the fee charged by a golf club shipping service. Increasingly, commercial airlines offset cut-rate airfares driven by intense competition with higher fees.

There are other costs associated with taking your clubs along with you. Taxis often charge extra to move clubs to and from the airport. Gratuities add up. To retrieve your clubs at some airports, you’ll face an extra stop at the “Oversize Baggage” area.

Sometimes, relying on the airline to ship your clubs as checked baggage may make sense. This very much depends on the airline and how many bags you’re checking. For example, Southwest Airlines will count a golf bag as one of your two free checked bags. Be wary of a heavy golf bag, as American Airlines applies a $150 fee for bags that exceed 51 lbs, each way. That’s a hefty $300 round trip. Meanwhile, United Airlines also applies an overweight baggage charge. Be sure to visit your respective airline’s baggage policy before traveling to obtain the most up to date information. 

Also, most airlines don’t want you stuffing your golf bag full of other items. Check Delta’s requirements as an example. American Airlines restricts you to 14 clubs, 12 balls and one pair of shoes. International travelers should note that a golf bag stuffed with non-golf items might get held up in customs.

Insert Great Idea: Ship Your Own Golf Clubs

So, you decided to ship your clubs instead. Now what? You’re often paying less working with a golf club shipping service than shipping golf clubs directly through UPS or FedEx. Why? Because it is inefficient for UPS or Fedex to work with a golfer shipping one or two sets of clubs. It is very efficient for them to work with a golf club shipping service sending them thousands of golf bags. Therefore, they grant these companies volume discounts.

As you calculate your costs, be aware that hotels, resorts and golf courses may charge a holding or processing fee. Call ahead to reveal these fees in advance.

Ship Sticks

Ship Sticks will ship your clubs anywhere in the world. The company has served more than 200,000 customers since its founding in 2010. Your clubs are fully insured, and there’s an on-time guarantee. Real-time tracking gives you extra peace of mind. Use Ship Sticks to ship your luggage as well.

Ship Sticks’ relationships with many U.S. golf destinations improve the process. If you’re shipping clubs to a course not listed, it’s always wise to call ahead to give the staff a heads up.

Cost: At $39 and up, each way, Ship Sticks is a cost-effective option for shipping golf clubs. Shipping golf clubs from the Midwest to Pebble Beach will run about $70 each way. XL bags run more. Still, save as much as 50-70 percent or more compared to working directly with UPS or FedEx.

To avail yourself of the lowest fees, plan ahead. Allow up to 2-5 business days for ground shipping. Expedited shipping is always an alternative for golfers who do not want to part with their clubs for that long. Ship Sticks fee includes $1,000 worth of insurance coverage. There’s a nominal cost to add more coverage. If your clubs arrive late, a $200 late bag policy covers the cost of rental clubs and incidentals.

Luggage Forward

Luggage Forward got started in 2005 shipping golf clubs to popular golf destinations like Ireland and Scotland. Expansion followed as Luggage Forward purchased various competing and complementary brands. Today it’s one of the leading services of its kind.

When you want to play with your own clubs on international trips, Luggage Forward is a highly-rated option. The company works with FedEx and other carriers to ship luggage and sports equipment to more than 200 countries. Luggage Forward is a true one-stop source for shipping. Send everything to your travel destination in advance. No more grappling with your golf clubs at the airport.

Book online or by phone. Luggage Forward offers door-to-door service from your home, business or country club. You don’t have to box your clubs. Luggage Forward completes customs paperwork for golfers traveling internationally.

Luggage Forward’s flat rates eliminate the hassle of worrying about weight and dimensions. The service says its international rates will typically beat FedEx rates by 50 percent. The flat rates are competitive, so much so that they offer a low-price guarantee. They will match a lower price and give you an extra $25. Again, golfers benefit from the discounts Luggage Forward gets from FedEx and other carriers.

Luggage Forward offers what it touts as the “world’s first money back plus $500 guarantee.” If your clubs arrive late, you qualify for a full refund. You also qualify for a reimbursement of up to $500 to cover related expenses.

FedEx Options

Shipping golf clubs via FedEx Ground within the U.S. is often less than $100 each way. There’s an $11 handling fee if you ship clubs without a box. Keep in mind that domestic ground service can take up to four days. FedEx International Economy takes up to five business days. 

Expedited shipping via FedEx can run hundreds of dollars per bag, each way.

FedEx delivers golf bags to deliverable addresses in more than 215 countries and territories. Special boxes are available if you don’t have your own golf travel bag. The FedEx Shipping Network includes more than 2,000 locations. Some are open later than competing UPS Stores. Service is also available at Office Depot and OfficeMax stores.

UPS Options

UPS Ground is a reasonably competitive alternative. For domestic service, you’ll often pay less than $100 each way. However, like FedEx, expedited shipping can run hundreds of dollars per bag, each way.

UPS will deliver your golf clubs to “staffed business addresses” worldwide. Of course, that includes golf courses, hotels and resorts. You can get information from UPS representatives online, over the phone or at any UPS Store. There are approximately 5,000 UPS Stores in the U.S. and Canada with trained staff that will pack and ship your clubs via their worldwide network.

Renting Golf Clubs

Companies like ClubHub and Clubs to Hire offer another option that some deem more favorable than shipping golf clubs. Rent clubs for the duration of your golf vacation. For many traveling golfers, this might be a better option than is first imagined. You eliminate concerns that your clubs will be lost or damaged. You’ll avoid the use of a hardshell case that not always easy to fit in the trunk of smaller rental cars common in Europe and elsewhere.

You’ll also avoid uncertainty about the quality and availability of clubs rented right at the course. If you’re playing a variety of courses during your stay, consistently playing with a single set is an advantage. Also, prices vary at top venues. At St. Andrews, Callaway clubs rent for a modest $45-$55 per day. However, club rental runs $95 per day at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

ClubHub

If you’re traveling to a destination in the continental U.S., consider ClubHub. This club rental service only rents TaylorMade clubs: M4 13-piece men’s set, or Kalea 11-piece women’s set. Choose right-handed or left-handed clubs. If these admittedly limited choices appeal to you, you’ll get a stand bag and an opportunity to demo the clubs.

Order at least two business days in advance to take advantage of free UPS shipping. The ClubHub shipping container is also included.

At the end of your trip, simply slip the return shipping label in the clear pouch on the box. Arrange for pick-up at your golf course or hotel. UPS pickup occurs at the original destination on the end date of your rental. You also have the option of dropping the clubs off at any of the UPS Stores in the U.S. and Canada.

Simplicity is a plus with Club Hub. Pay $69 for the first day and $20 per day thereafter. Or get 14 to 31 days for a fixed rate of $329. You only pay for playing days, not shipping days. Expedited shipping is available by quote. Sign up for their email list and get $10 off your first rental.

Clubs to Hire

Clubs to Hire rents newer golf clubs from major brands like TaylorMade, Callaway, Mizuno and Wilson. There are 28 locations on five continents — North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. At many of the international airports they serve, a representative will meet you right at the airport, often at no extra cost.

There just two U.S. locations, in Orlando, Fla., and Scottsdale, Ariz. Still, these are popular destinations for vacationing golfers. There are hundreds of courses in the Scottsdale area and hundreds more across central Florida.

Clubs to Hire rents quality clubs at attractive rates. Prices range from about $70 to $100 per week or part of a week. Additional handling charges apply for delivery to some destinations.


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