Sam Snead once said, "I HAVE NEVER taken to travel. Bad things can happen anywhere, but they come in droves once you've packed your bags." True enough. It is a leap of faith every time you zip up your luggage, especially when your clubs are inside. But with all the anxiety of a typical business meeting, you don't need to worry about the travel status of your golf equipment. Here are three rules to follow:
RULE ONE: Consider not bringing your clubs. If golf is merely a small portion of your meeting schedule, the aggravation of traveling with clubs is hard to justify, especially given current airport security. Many of the best resorts stock excellent rental sets, often better than your own. Miami's Doral Golf Resort &amp; Spa, for example, has the new Callaway Big Bertha C4 driver for rent, while Barton Creek Golf Club in Texas rents the new Titleist DCI 822OS irons. The American Club in Kohler, Wis., offers the rare option of loaner shoes and a free sleeve of balls.
RULE TWO: If you're going to break Rule One, consider not bringing your clubs on the plane. In addition to FedEx Corp. (FDX ) and United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS ), an increasing number of outfits will send your clubs ahead to your destination. ShipGolf.com arranges for the delivery of your clubs to any address--or you can rent a set of your choice and have those delivered. Others offering the send-ahead option include GolfBagShipping.com and www.SportsExpress.com. These services, however, can cost more than $100 round-trip. Use this guideline: one round, rent; more than that, ship.
RULE THREE: If you're going to break Rules One and Two, overprotect your assets. If your clubs are important to you, spend the money on a fully enclosed cover with its own carrying strap and sturdy wheels. Soft-sided covers are lighter and preferred by tour players. Pay attention to the bag's construction: Look for heavy Cordura nylon, lots of internal padding, and enough space for rainsuits, shoes, and (on the return trip) dirty laundry.
Pack your travel cover wisely. Course architect Pete Dye often stuck a broom handle in his bag, attached a bucket to it, and fit the contraption around his clubheads to keep them secure. Today's top covers, such as the Club Glove Last Bag and ProtectAir by Izzo, provide similar shock-absorbing protection.
Like Snead, you may not enjoy traveling. But if you follow these guidelines, at least your equipment won't be one of your worries.
By Mike Stachura