Golf trip? Here’s how to pack your “A game”

Sunscreen… six 1973 ‘Mountie” quarters… pain relievers. Must be packing for a golf trip. Many golfers are a little superstitious about the game (we’re a bit nutty about using 1973 quarters as ball markers). But when you’re packing for your golf trip, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. Before you tee it up at your dream destination, you’ll want to pack it up right before you leave. We’re here to help (with some advice, not with the actual packing).

Clubs. Some golfers will insist on a hard shell case, and they have their advantages ­– namely, they’re great at protecting your clubs. The major drawback with a hard shell case is the bulk; you may find your hard shell case exceeds airline baggage specifications, and at your destination it may be too big for that compact rental car that you were hoping to save some money with. If you’re going with a hybrid or soft shell travel bag, you’ll want to use something to prop up the top of the case from the inside (so your clubs don’t take a beating. A full-size hockey stick (sawed-off at the blade) does the trick in fine Canadian fashion, or you can buy a product like the Club Glove Stiff Arm to do the same thing.

Whether it’s a hard shell or soft, your golf travel bag is luggage, so treat it that way and pack lots of items in it. Most of your golf clothing – especially outerwear and socks, which you’ll want a lot of – can go in your golf bag, rolled up and tucked in pockets, or in the case of golf shoes, simply put in the travel bag. For small, loose items that you pack in your golf bag, like golf balls, tees, markers, etc., use clear freezer bags. That way all your gear doesn’t come falling out if your bag is opened for inspection.

How many golf balls to bring? Well, we once played three rounds with the same golf ball; we also once lost 11 balls in a round (Hello, Bear Mountain, Victoria, BC). So, average it out and bring a sleeve of balls for each round you’re going to play. Life loves an optimist, but golf isn’t always so kind ­– and you might not want to pay $18 for a sleeve of balls in the pro shop.  Speaking of which, golf club pro shops are notorious for having, let’s say, prohibitive pricing on things like golf balls, sunscreen, bug spray ­– everything, really. So be sure to pack the small sundries that you’ll be reaching for: Advil; snacks: granola bars, or whatever you like to snack on; sunscreen; sunglasses: stash your second favourite pair in your golf bag; a couple of golf caps.

Bring two pairs of golf shoes, including, if you have them, the casual-style kind that can pass as regular shoes. That way you can pack one pair with your golf bag, and wear the casual pair on your flight. It’s always a pleasure to be able to change into a fresh pair of shoes (and socks – like we said earlier, bring lots) before a round, especially if the previous round got a bit wet.

One last thing: put your contact info – including your cell phone number – on your clubs, and your travel bag. In the rare event they get waylaid or misplaced, you’ll want to be sure you can be contacted quickly. One more last thing: if you have any electronics such as rangefinders, pack them in your carry-on. They’re expensive and highly portable, so better to be safe than sorry.

One final last thing: bring cash for tips. Golf is a game of courtesy, and the golf business is as well. Caddies, valets, and other on- and off-course service staff are all there to help make your round more enjoyable. Show them a bit of love, and you’ll likely enjoy a better time.

We’ll finish with some of the best advice we’ve heard for a successful golf trip: don’t get too caught up counting your score. Yes, we all like to have a great round, but at a new course in an exotic location, sometimes it’s easier to enjoy the occasion when you’re not fretting about double bogeys or the result of a blind tee shot. The British custom of match play is always a good route if competition is the order of the day. Regardless of your skill level, a golf getaway can be one of the game’s great pleasures; hopefully we’ve covered enough of the fundamentals here that it’ll be easier for you to pack your “A game”.