As the world continues to open back up and people’s lifestyles recalibrate, travel has become a top-of-mind interest for most Americans. According to a U.S. Travel Association report published in late May, almost 90 percent of American travelers intend to satiate their wanderlust in the next six months. That mark represents a new high for travel plans (or travel confidence) during the pandemic.
You can bet that plenty of those travelers hopping on a plane this summer will have their golf clubs in tow. As they ready themselves for rounds played in far-flung destinations or — for the fortunate crowd — at bucket-list courses and resorts, those golf travelers would be wise to invest in the following gear. These items may not directly improve their scores — and they can’t guarantee straighter drives or more accurate approach shots — but they will assure those golf travelers that their long-overdue jaunts and golf-focused vacations are as comfortable and stress-free as possible.
Anyone who has schlepped their golf bag through a crowded airport knows how much of a hassle it can be. Most travel bags extend beyond 4 feet in length, they’re bulky, and with only two wheels at their base they can often become rolling obstacles both for the travelers lugging them around and any innocent bystanders nearby.
The ClubGlider Meridian ($299) alleviates at least some of those frustrations. Made of ballistic-quality nylon, the bag is reinforced in key areas to enhance its durability and it features dense foam padding at the top to better protect the clubs inside. The bag is still 52 inches long (there’s really no way around that), but a retractable stand with pivoting wheels not only supports the weight of the bag but makes tight cornering a breeze. The stand also makes it easier to multitask. Letting go to reach into your pocket, for example, no longer requires pulling a travel bag upright and hoping it doesn’t teeter over.
Kube Travel Cover
Sun Mountain’s most recent golf travel bag, the Kube Travel Cover ($229), is ironically more noteworthy for its capabilities when empty. Made from a combination of ballistic-style nylon and half-shells comprised of hard plastic, the Kube folds down into a compact shape that reflects the travel bag’s name. Its retracted form may not be a perfect cube, but when the bag is folded down it stands only 14.5 inches high, 13 inches wide, and nine inches deep. The collapsible feature not only makes the travel bag more easily storable at home, it keeps hotel rooms less cluttered and more comfortable. Best of all, those plastic half shells, which allow the bag to fold down into a totable shape, also provide added protection for clubs when the bag is in use.
Galway Bay All-Weather Unlined Jackets / Pants
Some golfers are undeterred by rain, even if precipitation is forecasted for their casual, everyday rounds at home. Others are more likely to grin and bear a day of wet conditions only if it’s a part of their golfing getaway. In either case Galway Bay’s All-Weather jackets ($299) and pants ($184) provide an exceptional counterpunch to those aquatic elements.
Both articles are made from the brand’s proprietary Hydro-Flex 32 fabric, a strong, durable and stretchy material that is waterproof, lightweight and sleek. That sleekness is important, especially in the jacket, as it won’t interfere with the motion of the golf swing. Of even greater appeal, the pants are unlined, so they look and feel exactly like traditional golf pants, except they’re also waterproof. If you’ve ever struggled pulling on — and later taking off — a traditional pair of rain pants out on the course, Galway Bay’s latest offering can eliminate those frustrations.
If you’ve watched airline or airport employees handle checked luggage enough times, you’ve likely witnessed bags tossed aggressively onto motorized belts or into baggage transfer carts. Such blatant disregard for the well-being of the contents of those bags will make you realize that your clubs, especially if they’re stored inside a soft-shell travel bag, are far from safe once they leave your hands.
The BagBoy Backbone ($30), while not a guaranteed deterrence against cavalier baggage handlers, at least offers a solid first line of defense. Equipped with a push-button mechanism that allows the device to expand up to 54 inches in height, and comprised of a lightweight aluminum shaft and an oversized polypropylene top cap, the Backbone can take the brunt of any head-on trauma that may occur. At $30, the device is not only affordable, it’s an incredible value, if only because the peace of mind that it delivers is priceless.
Jones Sports Co. Utility Rover Golf Bag
There’s a theory shared by some golf travel operators that the best way to assure yourself of a good caddie — especially throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland — is to travel with a lightweight golf bag that is easy to carry. Caddies are said to select their golfers for a round by first choosing which bags they want to carry; and, at many golf clubs, the most senior-ranked caddies get first choice. Not surprisingly, in a caddie’s view, a lightweight bag is like winning the lottery.
Yet, being sleek and lightweight doesn’t have to come at the expense of the functionality that golfers expect from their bags these days. The Utility Rover ($195), a new carry bag designed by Jones Sports Co., provides proof of that. The bag is outfitted with six pockets — including a large belly pocket that can accommodate rain gear or extra clothing — and the main compartment, which measures 7.5 inches in diameter, can accommodate an entire set of clubs. Best of all, the bag weighs only 3.2 pounds, which means it’s a cinch to carry. That’s good news for your caddie, and even better news for you on the days when you’re shouldering the bag yourself.