What to look for in a good golf travel bag
Travelling to junior golf tournaments is a lot of fun - especially airline travel for kids - but it can also be a real hassle with all the bags and equipment to deal with. In addition, unlike adult golf clubs, if a junior's golf clubs are damaged by the airline you cannot easily replace them in time for a tournament. For this reason it is critical to have a good travel bag or golf club travel case (hard case) that will protect your junior's clubs.
It is also good to understand some of the packing tips and know about other golf travel accessories that will help protect your junior's golf clubs. Below we outline what to look for in a golf travel bag and list some of the best golf travel bags currently available.
Golf travel bags vary a lot in terms of price, quality, hard sided golf cases vs soft sided bags etc. There are many golf travel cases out there that, simply put, will not do a great job of protecting your junior's golf clubs. In general we like the slightly larger full size bags that allow you to also pack in few pairs of shoes, golf balls, wind/rain gear etc.
The best golf travel bags all have certain things in common, including:
- Made from tough materials such as ballistic nylon or denier nylon or from a quality plastic for a hard case.
- Bag replacement warranty – some golf travel bags are even covered for damage to the bag caused by airlines.
- Quality wheels for rolling a heavy bag or case.
- Lockable zippers.
- Internal & external compression straps to keep golf clubs secure.
- Padding to protect your junior's golf clubs.
- Not too heavy. This one can be tricky as there is always some trade-off between lighter weight and more padding / higher quality materials and components.
Our recommendations for some of the best golf travel bags
The following travel golf bags have been selected based on their quality of build and ability to adequately protect your junior's golf clubs. In addition, we have selected golf travel bags that have outstanding buyer feedback.
Other products that make air travel to junior tournaments easier and less hassle
Golf Push Cart Carry Bags
If you are like most junior golf parents, you are also traveling with a push cart. It can be difficult to find a bag large enough and tough enough to carry a golf push cart. Having a bag that is specifically designed to travel with a push cart definitely helps.
If you have a clicgear push cart then you are in luck as Clicgear makes a high quality golf push cart travel bag that we have tested and used on many flights. They even have some with the option of built-in wheels to roll the bag through the airport or hotel. This bag will also fit many other push cart models but we recommend that you check the dimensions before you buy!
Golf Club Travel Support Rod
Golf travel support rods or stiff arms are relatively inexpensive devices that are a must-have if you want to make sure your junior's golf clubs arrive at their destination without breaking. These are especially critical to make sure longer clubs like junior golf drivers and 3 woods do not have the heads snapped off or bent at the hosel. There are many options available on Amazon as well as in any golf shop, priced around $30. A broom handle (or similar piece of wood) can be used in place of a stiff arm if you do not want to buy one.
These are a must-have if you want to make sure your clubs are kept safe. TSA designated locks are the only locks that are allowable for checked bags. The best golf travel bags will all have lockable zippers. There are many different options on the market. The "Forge" TSA locks have great reviews, are easy to use, made from high quality materials, and will let you know if your luggage has been inspected.
Tips for junior golf travel
Some additional thoughts and tips for airline travel to junior golf tournaments.
- We highly recommend a high quality large umbrella or two. These can also be packed next to the driver in the golf bag. For added protection you can even tape the umbrella to your driver. This serves in a similar fashion as the travel support rods above. Look for large (62"-68"), UV vented golf umbrellas such as a players double canopy umbrella..
- Always travel with a spare pair of junior golf shoes in case one pair gets wet, which often happens. Shoes and sneakers can be packed around the heads of the clubs in the golf travel bag to help protect the clubs even more.
- Empty soft side coolers act as extra padding and should be packed into the club head end of the bag.
- RFID tags are becoming more popular. Most enable you to track your golf bags' whereabouts and potentially recover it in time for a tournament. These Rebound Tag Smart Luggage Tags are a good example of this technology.
- Try to get a direct flight. A plane change increases the chance of clubs getting damaged, lost or sent to the wrong location, by 100%.
- Allow a little extra time for check-in at the airport since golf travel bags are considered oversize items and therefore often need to dropped off at a different location in the airport. Additionally, golf travel bags often are required to be picked up at an oversize destination as opposed to coming through on the regular baggage carousel.
- Make sure your golf travel bag is clearly marked and has your cell phone number on it. Include the same identification on the actual golf bag inside the travel bag. Including the name of your destination hotel can also be helpful if the bag needs to be delivered to you.
- Take out expensive items and electronics that can be damaged or stolen. E.g. put your range finder and/or GPS into your hand luggage or regular luggage.
- If you are still wary of traveling with golf clubs you can use a company like ShipSticks or Luggage Forward who will ensure that your junior's club arrive at your destination safely. These can be more expensive but add some peace of mind and definitely make the travel experience much easier.
- Take a picture of your golf clubs so that you have proof of what was in the bag should it get lost.
- Unless your junior is going to a tournament that requires walking, consider using a cart bag that does not have stands / legs. Stand bag legs are more susceptible to getting broken in soft sided golf travel bags.
- You can take the heads off drivers and fairway woods which makes it less likely that they will snap off (i.e. where your junior driver and fairway woods are adjustable and thus easy to take off). Put them in head covers and into a zippered part of the bag. Take a picture of the settings (or note them down) before you take them off so you can put them back on exactly the same way. Make sure to also take the wrench / tool to put them back together!