Take Them with You
More than any other sport golf is full of awkward words and caughty phrases that you don’t hear in regular conversations. “Your honor” sounds like you’re talking to a judge. “Dormie” is a word you never hear, but sure has a nice ring to it if you’re two up with two to play. When’s the last time you heard someone say the two dirtiest words in golf “shank” and “yips?”
The mere mention and spelling of those words sends a nasty shiver down my spine.
Over the past few years I’ve been the recipient of many invitations to take my dreadful game on the road so my new favorite phrase is “Have clubs, will travel.” Some invitations offer free golf and lodging, so all I have to do is get there with my clubs and be ready to swing away at my assigned tee time.
This year I’ve made air travel arrangements to five different destinations ranging from Palm Springs, Myrtle Beach, Dominican Republic, Orlando and Fort Myers and they all required an answer to the vital question: Do I ship my clubs or book them on the airline?
Since I’m a creature of habit, I almost always take them with me. My general criteria are if I’m going to play two rounds of golf or less, then rent the clubs. If I’m playing three rounds or more, then by all means bring the sticks with me. I can shoot a smooth 88 on the road with my own clubs or with rentals!
We know that the preferred airline for golf travelers is Southwest because they don’t charge extra for luggage, but they have many connecting flights and other quirky scheduling. We also know the least popular airline is Spirit, where a second piece of luggage costs $42, and Spirit charges you extra for everything including water. American, United, Delta and JetBlue charge $35 for the second piece of luggage, which in my case is a rugged 12-year old Club Glove golf travel bag. So each trip I’m forking out $70 roundtrip, which is not a budget buster, since rental clubs cost at least $40 per day.
From experience I know a good travel bag is a wise investment. On a flight to Myrtle Beach on now defunct Direct Air many moons ago, my cloth travel bag got demolished by the airline. The only response from the South Carolina-based Direct Air was an apology.
My research into this subject, which borders on fuzzy math, shows that UPS (United Parcel Service) will gladly ship your clubs for upwards of $50 one way, plus the price of a box. The USPS (United States Postal Service) will also take your hard-earned funds for upwards of $40 plus you have to buy an overpriced USPS box. Federal Express will assure a safe arrival of one of my life’s most valued possession but their services exceed $60 one way.
There are alternative and efficient ways to ship your clubs long distance and two prominent companies are Ship Sticks and Golf Overnight. The mission statement on the home page of Ship Sticks reads: “At Ship Sticks, our mission is to make golf travel simpler, easier, and more affordable. In 2014, U.S. airlines collected $2.6 billion in baggage fees and mishandled 24 million bags. Our goal is to provide golfers with a hassle-free alternative to lugging their clubs to and from the airport – so as to improve the golf travel experience, increase the number of rounds played annually, and grow the game.”
Ship Sticks claims to serve over 3,000 locations and will pick up clubs from your home or pro shop and deliver to your hotel or destination golf course. The prices to ship a standard golf travel bag from Boston to Fort Myers are $159 each way overnight; $119 each way in two business days; and $54 each way in three business days.
Golf Overnight has a caughty phrase on their home page: “We make golfing on the road easy.” Their prices start at $39 and they offer a $250 bonus payment toward rental clubs if they don’t deliver your clubs on time.
My VISA card never gets weary of a $70 charge for golf clubs accompanying me on a road trip!
(Tom Gorman is frugal in many ways except when it comes to “have clubs, will travel.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
But there are more reasons to consider in this matter, Tim Geary argues why you should ship them in his article.