How do you travel with your beautiful set of golf clubs and make sure they don’t get damaged on the way to your dream destination? Pebble Beach? Thailand? Pinehurst? We don't want to rent clubs when we're there that's for sure so how do we get our own set there in one piece?
Luckily, I've traveled nearly as much as Gary Player with my clubs and have the experience to show you the best golf travel bags to use on airlines. I've been on some of the worst airlines you can imagine and never had a breakage. I'm confident that you'll make the right choice after reading this article. I'm so happy your clubs will stay safe and you'll get to enjoy golf the way it is meant to be. With your own clubs!
Best Golf Travel Bags for Airlines
- Bag Boy Golf T10 Hard Top Cover (Editors Choice)
- SKB Deluxe ATA Hard Cover (best value with superior guarantee)
- Club Glove Last Bag Soft Cover (more spacious - used by Tour pros)
- CaddyDaddy Constrictor 2 Soft Cover (lightweight budget option)
- Sun Mountain Club Glider Meridian Soft Cover (easiest for check in)
- GTB Caravan 3.0 Soft Cover (best cheap travel bag)
- CaddyDaddy First Class Premium (most durable wheels)
*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.
A hard-top, budget, reliable travel bag solution
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.
A Sherman tank with a million mile warranty
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 good 14 way stand bags and push 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.
Trusted by Tour pros and comes in 16 colors
Did you know the Club Glove Last 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.
Lightweight budget option for stress-free packing
This is a great budget selection 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.
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 Tour 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.
I have used this bag and I always put padding like clothing, towels and headcovers around the clubs to make sure they are protected. I've used this bag to travel internally in the USA on Delta airlines and I did not experience a breakage.
If you only go on a few golf trips a year, and want a budget option, this is a good choice. The lightweight nature of it, the ease of storage and the amount of space inside is perfect. You get a one-year warranty (which even covers damages caused by airlines).
Easiest to wheel through check-in lines
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.
Super value for money very under budget
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.
Lightweight soft cover with premium wheels
The Caddy Daddy Premium First Classgives maximum protection and durability with their 1000D Ballistic Nylon design.
There is a dual layer protection inside the case and on the outside are two massive pockets for putting all your extra stuff in depending on how much weight allowance you have on your ticket.
The big wheels are the best feature of this bag. When making a golf travel bag, you'd expect manufacturers to use heavy duty wheels so they last but so often the wheels are flimsy and weak, and you're left with a bag with one wheel or broken wheels. Not this one.
Unlike other bags, the Premium First Class has wheels that I can tell will not break soon. You could run your bag offroad if needed and the wheels will still work. This is a very good bag if you make a lot of golf trips.
This little stick will prevent the force from a golf bag being thrown around from impacting your clubheads. It keeps the top of the bag firm and stops crushing forces pushing down on the driver and longer clubs. This will prevent snapped shafts in soft cover travel bags.
What to Look for in a Golf Travel Bag
When shopping for travel cases for your golf bag, there are a few different features to look out for.
Key features of a golf travel bag
This is very 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.
Depending on how frequently you travel, it’s important to get one that is relatively easy to transport back and forth. If you’re older or have some back issues, I recommend getting a lighter, soft shell bag to ensure it’s easy to get them in and out of the trunk. No need to suffer a pointless injury on the way to your golf vacation. Plus, weight is a big factor for how much it costs to shipping your golf gear as well. Depending on the airline, if you go over a certain limit you’ll have to pay even more money each way.
Also, it’s important to note unlike bags, these do not come with a shoulder strap and you’ll always have to push or pull it.
The 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. Some bags have spinner wheels to change direction easily but most will only have two and you have to hold the handle at the top of the bag as you wheels it around. This can be cumbersome to change direction but if the airports are not too crowed, you'll be okay.
You need pockets for accessories, clothes and golf shoes. On the trips where weather may be variable and you need a lot of layers or jackets, it's always better to have too much storage than too little.
You want to know how much space is inside the bag as well. Outside the bag, the soft cover cases are better as they have zippable pockets whereas the hard cover have none.
Hard shell or soft cover
Hard cases will be heavier and more difficult to store in a small space when you're not using them. A soft cover bag can be folded up and placed in a cupboard. The hard case offers superior protection to your shafts and clubheads while the soft cover will need a stiffener like a bag boy stick or a lot of extra padding made up of golf shoes, towels, clothes and headcovers. I use a hybrid bag which has a soft cover around the bottom of the golf bag but a hard cover on top just around the clubs.
Double check the warranties of the companies who make the bags. Some of them extend for a year or two and you might even find some that cover the damage to clubs, as well as even damage to clubs inflicted upon your bag by the airlines!
Locks and padlocks
TSA will check certain bags and some do come with TSA locks otherwise purchase a TSA-approved lock from Master.
Like anything in golf, you get what you pay for. When it comes to a golf travel bag, I like to get the best travel bag for my golf bag that I can. I do not have much storage space at home so I prefer not to go with an entirely hard case. I like to fold it up and place it in the closet. That led me to the case which has a hard top and a soft bottom but with a lot of external storage because I go for longer trips. I got the most expensive one I could afford and I have no had a single breakage.
How to pack my golf clubs for travel 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
Conclusion for golf travel bags
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.