by Scott Kramer
A successful golf holiday starts well before you leave home, with organization and preparation. About a week before setting off, start compiling a checklist of everything you want to bring along. Consider downloading a packing app for your smartphone (such as “Pack The Bag,” “Saving Grace Travel Packing Aid,” and “Packing Pro”), which can help customize a golf-specific game plan.
Two or three days before leaving, place your golf bag and luggage where you could trip over them. “That will trigger a reminder of what you need to pack,” says Lee Silber, author of Organizing from the Right Side of the Brain. “As you think of things you’ll need, throw them into your luggage so you won’t forget them later.” Here are some other ways to make sure a good golf trip is in the bag:
- Simplify clothing, using a staple color—preferably one that hides dirt—as your anchor. That way, you’ll need fewer pieces and accessories.
- Microfiber is an ideal on-course fabric—lightweight, comfortable, quiet during golf swings, wrinkle-resistant, and quick to dry.
- Check the weather forecast and pack only what you’ll need for that climate. Even then, bring a lightweight rainshirt, maybe a wool hat and rain gloves, plus other small, easy-to-pack saviors just in case. Or be prepared to buy them there, if available.
- If you’re a GPS fan, make sure the courses you’ll be playing are available for your device. You might download a free GPS app for your smartphone, like GolfLogix, rather than carrying another piece of equipment.
- An alarm clock app, so you don’t sleep through an early tee time if your wake-up call doesn’t come.
- Old clothes to work out or sleep in, then throw them away before returning. Besides easing your load, this makes room for souvenirs.
- Socks and golf balls stuffed inside shoes to save space.
- Healthy snacks if you’re trying to avoid fattening foods while at the course.
- Enough golf balls (however many seem enough to you). If you’re traveling outside the U.S., buying more can get expensive. Within the U.S., check before you go for the location of the nearest golf discount store and pack accordingly.
- Rolled—not folded—golf clothing. Rolling actually limits wrinkling. Or lay clothes flat inside dry cleaning plastic bags, then roll, to maintain a freshly pressed look without ironing.
- A PDF of your passport, stored on your phone, in case you lose the real passport while traveling. (A paper printout doesn’t hurt, either.) Store your itinerary and tee time confirmations, too.
Airport security often spot-checks golf bags, so don’t use yours to sneak items through customs. Furthermore, some airlines have a limit of three golf balls per bag and forbid non-golf items. Check your carrier’s policy in advance.
Even the best planning won’t help if the airline loses your bags. So in your carry-on bring enough clothing for two days and shoes that work on-course. “Luggage fails to arrive with passengers far more often than airlines admit,” says Sam Baker, president and CEO of golf-travel operator Haversham & Baker. “While renting clubs and buying a few balls until your gear arrives isn’t that difficult or expensive, buying new clothes and shoes is quite another matter.”