Ever left your clubs at home on a trip and rented a set? It's not the same, is it?
We've all heard the stories of the guys brand new custom-fitted driver shaft snapping on the flight back home. And all the airline offered him was a few measly dollars based on the light weight of the club.
That's why EVERY golfer who travels needs a proper travel bag. Clubs are expensive, and replacing them is not only an expense, but the club is never the same with a new shaft in it, is it?
Avoid all that nonsense, and get yourself geared up to take your own clubs to wherever you go and have them arrive with you, in one piece.
I've traveled thousands of miles (on full service and budget airlines) with my golf clubs and have never had a single one break. Even with a travel bag, I take extra precautions.
In this guide, I'll not only show you which are the best golf travel bags for airlines, but I'm going to show you how to pack a bag so you never ever have broken clubs. Plus, wheeling your golf back around the airport looks way more swanky than lugging it on a shoulder. Take your clubs everywhere!
Key features of a golf travel bag
- Weight is important because some airlines restrict the weight of sports equipment. Do you travel low-cost or full-service most of the time? Check airline rules - generally 50 lbs total is about the norm for sports equipment.
- Wheels make moving the bag around so much easier than carrying so I've featured only wheeled bags here. I struggled for too long with a carry travel bag.
- Side pockets are great for accessories, clothes and golf shoes.
- Hard or soft cover can mean the difference between adding your own padding or not.
- Some manufacturers offer very generous warranties that even cover your clubs!
- Some bags come with built-in locks while others need padlocks.
- TSA will check certain bags and some do come with TSA locks otherwise purchase a TSA-approved lock from Master.
Best Golf Travel Bags for Airlines
- Bag Boy Golf T10 Hard Top Cover (best budget option and my current choice)
- SKB Deluxe ATA Hard Cover (best value travel bag, includes superior guarantee/warranty)
- Club Glove Last Bag Soft Cover (most spacious - used by Tour pros)
- CaddyDaddy Constrictor 2 Soft Cover (lightweight budget option)
- Sun Mountain Club Glider Meridian Soft Cover (easiest for check-in queues)
- GTB Caravan 3.0 Soft Cover (best bang for buck option)
*All of these bags are compliant with airline policies. The only thing to remember is the weight restrictions and to double check the airline policies to ensure once the bag is packed, it doesn't exceed maximum weight - usually around 50 lbs.
This is such a good option for budget travel. The top of the bag is made of firm plastic which does not bend or break easily. It's flexible enough to not crack and zips shut together with the rest of the fabric bag.
It's basically a golf bag case made of fabric, with a hard shell on top where the clubs are. It stores very easily but folding the fabric into the hard shell and placing the hard-shell sized item in a cupboard or in the corner.
The strap around the bag helps to prevent it from snapping open from rough handling while traveling and the wheels in the bottom make it easier to wheel around instead of putting it sideways on a baggage trolley. You'll need to pack it quite tight to really take advantage of the wheels, as it sags without enough stuff packed into it.
I've travelled with this type of bag a lot, and it's my favorite for convenience of storage and price.
American-made quality with TSA lock
The American-made SKB Deluxe is made of molded polyethylene which makes it not only dirt and moisture resistant but extremely strong. So strong in fact, that the manufacturer offers $1500 club coverage and a million mile guarantee on the case.
With that sturdiness and strength comes a bit of extra weight though and at 18 lbs, the SKB travel bag isn't light. With your bag loaded inside, you might have enough airline weight allowance for a pair of golf shoes.
You'll be able to put pretty much any bag in here but it works especially well for stand bags and cart bags. It's a tight fit for larger cart bags and staff bags but with a bit of effort, it'll hold it all. The inline skate wheels make wheeling this solid structure around very easy.
There are three locks on the bag and keys are included. A TSA lock is included which is fantastic because this bag is a magnet for TSA and will be checked. It's always best not to put too much loose stuff in the case because the ever reliable TSA will reliably lose it for you.
One of the other areas that could be improved actually, are the locks. They could be made of a material more in-line with the sturdiness of the case but are made of a hard plastic. They do however work very well.
This is easily the best hard case golf travel bag on the market.
Did you know the Club Glove travel bag is the most used travel bag by professionals on Tour? Neither did I but that's why it 's priced quite a bit higher than others. Or maybe it's the lifetime warranty. Or the executive looks. Or the fact your clubs won't break inside of it?
Club Glove have made this bag of resilient Cordura which is way more durable than nylon and even though this bag is about 10 lbs, it protects the hell out of your clubs. Regardless of the type of bag you use, it can hold even a big Tour bag and two pairs of shoes. There's just so much space and with the light weight, you have 40 lbs to stuff everything you can into your golf bag.
It's made in the USA and includes high quality YKK zippers and ITW Nexus buckles and if you know anything about zippers and clasps, these are the highest quality. Placing your clubs inside the bag is easy and once you zip it closed, you can then connect the buckles for a tight fit without any club rattle. The inline skate wheel system is sturdy and not likely to break off like the Samsonite's do.
There just isn't any soft cover golf travel bag that comes close to this which is why it's the best golf travel bag for airlines because no matter what those handlers do with it, your clubs are well protected.
The CaddyDaddy Constrictor is a good budget option if the previous two models in the guide are a bit steep for your tastes. Hard cover bags are pretty difficult to store because of their bulkiness and the Constrictor 2 just folds in half and takes up about the same space as a carry on bag.
Lightweight and plenty of room
The bag is only about 8.5 lbs which means you have 40 lbs to play with so with your clubs, you can add your golf shoes and all the balls you could possibly lose in 5 rounds. And with the ample space inside the bag, you really can go wild even if you have a Rodney Dangerfield Caddyshack bag. The two extra pockets on the outside give you even more storage space.
Very convenient is the bag stands up straight with a golf bag loaded inside. Now this is a soft cover case and while the protection is quite good around the clubs, I'd recommend reading my packing guide at the bottom of the page to ensure your clubs stay safe. Or you have the option of the North Pole to keep the force away from breaking your driver shaft.
Excellent for travelling families
From the golf bag specialists, Sun Mountain, the Sun Mountain Club Glider gets top marks. There is a second set of wheels besides the standard inline skate wheels which are easily retractable so the bag stays in the wheeling position by itself.
The little wheels on the foremost wheels pivot and take almost 100% of the weight off your hand and arm so you can guide the Club Glider Meridian around with total ease using a single finger.
That's a major advantage when you're also wheeling around a couple kids and your wife's cosmetics case! No need to keep picking it up and moving it while navigating to check-in.
Some things that could be improved are the amount of padding around the clubs, and perhaps the external pockets extending outward and not pushing into the interior of the bag. A minor grip is needing to put the legs back getting on an escalator and pull the out as you approach the top.
Space-wise the Sun Mountain has enough space for your bag, a small carry on and golf shoes. There isn't nearly as much space as the Club Glove and the material isn't as durable as the Cordura used in the Club Glove. There's a one year warranty on the Club Glider Meridian travel bag itself but not on your clubs which the SKB does offer at a lower price point.
Overall, a nice bag that will need a bit more support around the club heads but there is no easier golf travel bag on the market that is this easy to wheel around.
Good option if you travel occasionaly
Excellent external pockets and riveted handles make the Caravan 3.0 extremely high value. There is little difference between this bag and the Constrictor 2. The weight is similar and the setup is almost identical.
There's plenty of space inside to pack everything you could need on your golf trip. The two pockets on the exterior easily fit one pair of golf shoes each. While this bag isn't going to last forever like an SKB or Club Glove, it's a great budget option if you don't travel extensively with your clubs.
Tips on packing your golf bag safely
This is by no means pretty, but it is effective. If you don't want to buy a travel bag or you want a soft cover travel bag, you can do this.
- Clip on your rain cover and unzip to let it hang loose. It's easier to do the final step if you put the cover on now.
- Unscrew the driver head from the shaft and put the shaft into the bag with the clubs. If your driver doesn't unscrew, go to the next step.
- Put your woods and hybrids upside down into the bag. Be sure to put some old socks on the heads to prevent scratches.
- Bunch the shafts that are sticking out the top together and put your umbrella in the bag to act as a splint for more support.
- Turn your irons in so the toes are all facing your woods' shafts and bunch them all together and wrap a towel (or two) around the whole set.
- Once the towels are tightly wrapped around the club heads, zip up the club cover.
- Put the driver head and wrench into a jacket and place it in a secure pocket.
- Use cellophane wrap and masking tape to wrap it all up for a budget version of the airport service
Simply put, the best travel bags are expensive and they're expensive because they last. An SKB hard case will serve any golfer well and for the price, there is little reason to get a soft cover travel bag for airlines. If a hard cover bag is not ideal and storage becomes a pain in the butt, the high-priced Club Glove is virtually indestructible and protects your golf clubs amazingly. For those who don't like lugging a golf travel bag around by a flimsy handle, the Sun Mountain makes travel easy. These three are essentially the best golf travel bags for airlines hands down.