Sadly, free carriage for your golf clubs when flying abroad is a thing of the past. Taking your sticks with you on a golf holiday means paying hefty carriage fees but there are ways you can lower airline golf bag charges and ensure any extra money is spent in the 19th hole and not at the check-in desk.
The major airlines have, one by one, had to scrap free carriage for golf clubs and charge golfers – adding even more to the cost of your golf holiday.
When TAP, Portugal’s national airline, announced it was scrapping free carriage for golf bags in the early summer of 2012 – it was the last of the major European airlines to do so.
Budget airlines, like Ryanair and Easyjet, charge handsome sums for you to pop the sticks in the hold.
A check at the time of publication showed that Ryanair charges a minimum of £50 for golf travellers and EasyJet charges £27 when you pre-pay online or £35 at the airport. *(rates may have changed since this article was first published).
Given the high price of taking your clubs on holiday, Global Golfer has assembled this handy guide to saving money on airline charges for golf club carriage.
Pencil in two bags for lower airline golf bag charges
Golf bag carriage is determined by a couple of things, weight and space.
On Easyjet you can pay for additional weight in sporting goods and while cheaper than Ryanair charges, it still works out as being costly.
One way to save money is to carry two sets of clubs in one golf travel bag.
How do you do this?
Pencil bags, the lightest slimmest and simplest way of carrying your golf clubs. Pencil bags are ultra-lightweight slim carry bags designed for easy carrying.
Two pencil bags can easily fit into a large golf travel bag along with gloves, tees and balls and towels. They can be used at the other end with golf buggies and trolleys, or even carried if you are feeling fit.
The only drawback on the pencil bag is that when used on a buggy or trolley there are no dividers in the bags, so your grips can stick together a little and you have to give your clubs a yank to get them out.
Plus, if you are going somewhere where it might rain, pencil bags can be less waterproof and limited when carrying rain suits, so you may have to wear your lightweight wind cheater or rain jacket while you’re playing to save space.
Another version of the pencil bag solution is to put two golf bags in one travel bag but only take a half set of clubs. Decide whether you like 3-9 better than 4-Wedge and play with half a set, saving you one set of golf bag carriage surcharges. Let’s be honest, to hit an 8-iron shot grip down on a 7-iron, or just give it some extra gusto to make your 5 iron go like a 4-iron.
Spikeless Shoes & other Golf Travel Hacks
You’re thinking I’ve got no choice, where am I going to put my shoes and all my extra stuff (caps, socks, waterproofs).
The simple space saving solution is to wear them, that’s right, put your golf cap on and get a pair of multi-use casual spikeless golf shoes.
They work just like normal shoes, and look great with jeans or shorts, and at the same time provide all the grip you need to play golf.
A good bet is the FootJoy Contour Casual, read our review here. Sling your lightweight golf jacket on too – worse case is you look like a golf fan – which you probably are anyway.
Golf Holiday Club Hire
If you are one of those golfers who can hit anything and isn’t precious about what equipment they are playing with, then you might want to use the fastest growing club hire service in the golf travel world.
ClubstoHire.com was set up former Ryder Cup player Paul McGinley when he realised there was a shortage of alternatives to paying the golf bag carriage fees.
McGinley set up club hire services in major airports of Europe’s major golf destinations and hires out top spec equipment, including TaylorMade, Callaway and Wilson Staff from EURO 35 for a full set for a week. Take your balls, shoes and gloves in your luggage and you are good to go.
Lower airline golf bag charges forever with a 2nd set in your rental home
If you are lucky enough to own a villa, an apartment or a timeshare then buy a second hand set of clubs from Ebay or GolfBidder, and leave them in a bag at your holiday home. You can pick up a full set of decent kit for under £300 and it would pay for itself in carriage fees after a handful of visits.
There are lots of private holiday home owners who rent out their villas and apartments to golfers and they are likely to have sets of golf clubs at their properties that they either rent out or provide free. Do a quick google search and see what comes out.
Do you have any money saving solutions to the airline golf club carriage fee problem?