There are several companies that will ship luggage and sports equipment (golf clubs, skis, bikes, snow and surf boards...) to your travel destination. These services take the hassle out of traveling with bulky bags and heavy items and make it easier to get your luggage and gear from point A to B. It’s a great way to simplify and de-stress the travel experience. Particularly larger, busier airports can be difficult to navigate. Skipping bag check lines and long waits at the baggage carousel (not to mention the oversize baggage area) can ease and streamline your trip. Plus, you won't have to rent equipment once you arrive.
Shipping options, pricing, and terms of service vary from company to company, so it's important to review the latest info from each provider including their shipping guarantees and insurance options. That said, in general, here’s how these service work:
1. Online Booking and Scheduling: Visit the company’s website to set up and book your shipment. During this process, you will be asked to provide details such as your pick-up location, destination, desired shipping dates, and information about the luggage or equipment you are sending. There may also be service level options (e.g., economy to express) based on how quickly you need your items to arrive.
2. Pricing: Pricing is determined by factors such as the size and weight of the items, the distance they will travel, and the chosen speed of service. Each company offers a quote at the time of booking.
3. Packing Your Items: You are responsible for packing your bags or equipment as if you were going to check them in at an airport. For specialty items like golf clubs or skis, companies like Ship Sticks may offer guidance or provide specialized packaging to protect your gear during transit.
4. Labeling and Documentation: After booking, you typically need to print out shipping labels and, if you're shipping internationally, any necessary customs documentation. In some cases, the company might send you label pouches or even arrange for a driver who will attach the shipping label upon collection.
5. Collection: You can arrange to have your items picked up from your home, office, or other specified locations. The actual collection is usually handled by third-party couriers affiliated with major shipping carriers like UPS, FedEx or DHL. Alternatively, you may also have the option to drop off your luggage at a local carrier store or a designated drop-off location.
6. Shipment and Tracking: Your items are then shipped through the company's logistics network, which is often a partnership with well-known carriers. Throughout the journey, you can track your shipment using tools provided by the company, receiving updates on their progress to your destination.
7. Delivery: Your items are delivered directly to the destination you specified, such as a hotel, golf course, vacation home, or even directly to a cruise ship or sporting event.
8. Guarantee: Many of these services come with a guarantee for on-time delivery, adding a layer of assurance. Their customer support teams are also typically available for inquiries and to resolve any issues that may arise.
Here's a list of some well-known and well-reviewed shipping services:
1. Luggage Forward - Luggage Forward specializes in door-to-door luggage and sports equipment shipping worldwide. Luggage Forward is known for its dependable service and has earned 4.7 stars on Trustpilot.
2. SendMyBag - SendMyBag has also gained a positive reputation for its international luggage shipping, often being noted for its competitive pricing and clear communication. SendMyBag has a 4.6 star rating on Trustpilot.
3. Ship Sticks - ShipSticks Ship Sticks has received accolades from golfers for their reliable and easy-to-use service, which is tailored to the needs of golf travel. Ship Sticks has a 4.7 rating on Trustpilot.
4. BikeFlights - For cyclists, BikeFlights is often the go-to service. The company has built a solid reputation for careful handling and efficient delivery of bicycles, which are items that require special attention during shipping. BikeFlights has a 4.8 rating on Trustpilot with over 40,000 reviews, the most of any company on this list.
5. Luggage Free - Luggage Free has been noted for its premium, white-glove service, and is often highlighted for providing a stress-free experience with high levels of customer satisfaction. Luggage Free has a 4.7 star rating on Trustpilot.
Each of these companies provide varying levels of service, tracking options and customer support to ensure your items arrive safely and on time. Availability of these services may also vary by location. We recommend visiting their websites to confirm availability, compare prices, service options, and recent customer reviews to find the best option for your specific needs. You may also want to consider choosing a company that specializes in the type of shipping you require.
Lastly, it's also worth considering the oversize baggage fees of the airline you're planning to travel. These fees vary airline-to-airline based on the size and weight of the baggage as well as the route (especially for international flights). Oversize and overweight baggage fees change over time but typically start at $100-$200 per bag, each way, and are often in addition to any standard checked bag fee. Some airlines may waive oversize fees for items like skis or golf bags on particular flights.
By guest blogger Suzanne Rowan Kelleher
Love family vacations? Love golf? Bringing the two together has never been easier, as more hotels and resorts are wooing parents with excellent golf schools and family-minded packages. But how will you know if a resort’s family golf program is really as kid-friendly as promised?
You can tell a lot simply by reading the property’s brochure or web site, says Jerramy Hainline, director of instruction at the Hilton Golf Academy, whose three resorts welcome over 350 kids each year. Compare how the resort describes its junior golf instruction with how it portrays its adult offerings. “If there’s very little difference in how the classes are described, it’s more than likely that the resort hasn’t tailored anything for kids,” says Hainline. “If a resort or school truly wants kids there, it will have made accommodations to offer junior golfers a quality experience.”
What else should you look for? Here are 10 more clues that a resort will deliver a golf vacation that’s truly a family affair:
- On-course instruction. A no-brainer, right? Far from it. You’d be surprised at how often a kids’ golf “program” turns out to be a 90-minute etiquette lesson in a windowless conference room or an hour on a driving range plus a soda break. It’s critical that a program teaches kids how to play the game, not just how to drive a ball or putt. “Kids need to experience being on the course to bring it all together,” stresses Hainline. So if a resort’s junior program doesn’t feature any on-course time, it’s a deal breaker.
- Reduced green fees. Discounts for junior golfers or deals where “kids play free” with a paying adult demonstrate that a resort is serious about encouraging kids to play.
- Low student-instructor ratio. Class size for kids ages 6 to 17 should never exceed six kids per instructor, says Hainline. “And for 4- to 5-year-olds, the ratio should be closer to 2 to 1.”
- Inclusive instruction. Even preschoolers can learn the fundamentals of golf, including the basic rules of etiquette—whose turn it is to putt, where to stand, and that old bugaboo, when to be quiet. A family-friendly resort will have come up with ways for kids as young as 5 or 6 to participate in the game.
- Child-savvy pros. “You want instructors who have experience with the programs and a history of working with junior golfers,” says Eric Alpenfels, director of instruction at the Golf Academy at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina. “I think five years of experience is a good start. Junior-golf certification programs vary from facility to facility.” If you can’t find this information on the resort’s web site, call and ask.
- Family-friendly tees. Most youngsters don’t have the skill and strength required to play a long course. To get kids in the game, many resorts now offer forward tees set at shorter distances. Having a variety of tees allows the family to play together, with Mom and Dad playing the long course and kids hitting from the forward tees. Some resorts even have special scorecards with more realistic pars for kids.
- Kid-size clubs. “Cut-offs” are adult clubs that have simply been shortened, resulting in a heavy head relative to shaft length. They’re better than nothing, says Hainline. But it’s preferable that a resort provide kids with junior clubs, which are scaled down appropriately from top to bottom.
- Big balls, little balls. Young kids are still working on eye-hand coordination. At the Hilton Golf Academy, junior golfers start off hitting beach balls. Once they’ve mastered those, it’s on to rubber balls, then tennis balls, and finally golf balls.
- Designated family time. Many resorts now offer special tee times reserved just for families. Pinehurst’s “Family Fairways” program goes one better, giving parents and their kids one course all to themselves for several hours each afternoon. “Family Fairways takes the intimidation factor out of play,” says Alpenfels. “You don’t need to worry about who’s behind you, or hitting in the middle of the fairway, or going straight to the putting green.”
- Non-golf kids’ activities. If family members have varying levels of skill and interest, it’s simply unrealistic to expect your whole clan to golf 24/7. Look for a swimming pool and other recreational activities to keep everyone happy. An on-site kids’ camp or babysitting service will add flexibility to your schedule.
Bio: Suzanne Rowan Kelleher is the Editor-in-Chief of WeJustGotBack.com, a family travel website with resort and hotel reviews, how-to articles, readers’ tips and recommendations, and planning advice for kid-friendly vacations.
No two golf courses are alike. And there's nothing like driving a ball down the creme de la creme of fairways and putting on luxury greens. There's no definitive list and everyone will have their own preferences. This list represents a mix of courses known for their historical significance, architectural brilliance, challenging layouts, and luxurious amenities. We also selected a list of courses that are available to the public.
Pebble Beach Golf Links, Monterey Peninsula, California: Known for its stunning ocean views and challenging layout, Pebble Beach has hosted numerous PGA Tour events. The course is part of a world-class resort offering luxurious accommodations and amenities. It is advisable to book several months in advance, especially for peak season and weekends, with resort guests possibly having priority.
Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland: The birthplace of golf, this course is rich in history and tradition. Known for its rolling fairways, deep bunkers, and strategic play, it offers breathtaking views of the Scottish coast. Booking up to a year in advance for guaranteed tee times is recommended, along with a daily ballot system for some tee times.
Bethpage Black Course, Long Island, New York: A public course known for its demanding conditions and beautiful, well-maintained layout. Bethpage Black has hosted several major championships and is revered for its challenge and beauty. Tee times can be reserved online 7 days in advance for New York residents and 5 days for non-residents.
Whistling Straits, Sheboygan, Wisconsin: Set on the banks of Lake Michigan, this course is known for its links-style layout and has hosted several PGA Championships. Advance booking several months ahead is recommended during peak, summer season.
TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida: Famous for its 17th hole island green, TPC Sawgrass is home to The Players Championship. It's known for its challenging layout and luxurious amenities. Booking a few months in advance, particularly during peak seasons, is recommended.
Cape Kidnappers, Te Awanga, New Zealand: Set in a dramatic landscape, Cape Kidnappers offers stunning ocean views and a layout that's both challenging and scenic. Advanced booking is advised, especially from October to April.
Kapalua Plantation Course, Maui, Hawaii: This course is renowned for its beautiful setting and has hosted the PGA Tour's Sentry Tournament of Champions. It's known for its panoramic ocean views and challenging layout. Reservations are recommended in advance, especially during the peak winter months.
The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia: A historic resort with several golf courses, including the Old White TPC, a public course that hosts the PGA Tour's Greenbrier Classic. It's advisable to book a few months in advance, particularly for summer visits.
The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, South Carolina: Known for its stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, this public course has hosted several major championships, including the PGA Championship. As with other courses on this list, booking several months in advance is recommended for peak times.
Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southport, England: This public links course is one of England's finest and has hosted multiple Open Championships and Ryder Cups. It's known for its challenging layout and coastal setting. Advanced booking is generally recommended, especially during summer months.
Playing these courses isn't cheap. Costs can vary significantly but, depending on the course, a round might cost $500 or more. In some cases, costs may also depend whether you're staying at the resort hotel.
List updated November 2023.
Mancations? You heard it right. Gadling reported on a trend CNN recently wrote about, and one TripHub has known about for a while - guys getaways, apparently now also referred to as mancations. (Men, are you cool with this term? Sounds a little goofy to me, but then again girls getaway probably sounds equally as goofy.)
Groups of guys with old friends from high school and college (or just life) traveling together is a growing trend indeed, if nothing else, evident from hotels and resorts catering to men only groups with such testosterone-infused packages including things like:
- poker parties
- hand-rolled cigars
- buckets of beer
- sports tickets
- race car driving
- "man-friendly" spa treatments
Keeping in touch is important and doing so while traveling (away from the girls) is a way to bond in ways you can't do as a couple. I can vouch that my girls getaways (goofy as that trendy little name sounds for a vacation) are a God-send when it comes to staying connected to friends. Especially when you're increasingly busy post-college with work and life.
P.s., clearly, other bloggers think the term mancation is as ridiculous as I do. However, the concept is sound. Guys do travel together, label or no label.
Where do the expert golfers go? You know – the smooth swingers with enviable handicaps. Don’t we all long to tee off at a place of undisputed beauty and repute? And nothing’s better than sharing such a grand moment with friends.
Here’s our list of group-friendly golf meccas for you to plan a golf get-away with friends and put your link lovin’ ways to practice.
Arizona: The greater Phoenix and Scottsdale region is one of the biggest golf areas in the U.S. due to both the quality and quantity of courses. Plus, there’s plenty of après golf entertainment - restaurants, nightlife, spas and more - making it an ideal place for group trips. Here are five highly regarded courses in the area. Each of these courses offers something a bit different, whether it's a PGA-level challenge, scenic vistas, meticulous course conditions, or pure natural beauty. Note, the peak season for golf in this area is during the cooler months, roughly October to May.
TPC Scottsdale – TPC Scottsdale offers two courses, the Stadium Course and the Champions Course. The Stadium Course is a must-play for its famous 16th hole and overall PGA Tour experience.
Troon North Golf Club – This club offers two 18-hole courses, the Monument and the Pinnacle, both of which are highly regarded. They are known for their beautiful desert landscapes and challenging play.
Grayhawk Golf Club – With the Raptor and Talon courses, Grayhawk is a great option for all skill levels. The courses are immaculately maintained and offer beautiful views of the McDowell Mountains.
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club – We-Ko-Pa also has two courses: Cholla and Saguaro. Both courses offer stunning views free of any homes or urban development, providing a pure golf experience.
The Boulders – The Boulders is renowned for its North and South courses which feature a backdrop of dramatic rock formations and desert landscape.
Hawaii: The Aloha State is a brilliantly natural spot for golf. With the sea as scenery (and course hazard) and a naturally hilly landscape to challenge any golfer, it’s no wonder Hawaii boasts so many glorious courses. Here's a handful of the best courses across the Hawaiian Islands to consider:
Kapalua Plantation Course (Maui) - The Plantation Course is renowned for its dramatic ocean views and is the host of the PGA TOUR's Sentry Tournament of Champions. The course is a challenge for all levels of golfers and is known for its unique, undulating terrain.
Nanea Golf Club (Big Island) - Although more exclusive and harder to get into (as it's a private club), Nanea has stunning views and offers a world-class golf experience.
Mauna Kea Golf Course (Big Island) - Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Mauna Kea Golf Course has been revered since it opened in 1964. The course offers stunning ocean views from nearly every hole and is known for its signature 3rd hole where golfers must tee off over an ocean cove.
Princeville Makai Golf Club (Kauai) - The Makai Golf Course at Princeville is one of the most scenic golf courses in the world. With the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop, it offers a series of oceanfront holes that are both beautiful and challenging.
Wailea Golf Club (Maui) - Wailea offers three 18-hole courses: the Blue, Gold, and Emerald courses. The Emerald Course is often cited as friendly for a wide range of skill levels, featuring stunning ocean views with less demanding tee shots.
Hilton Head, SC: Hilton Head Island, just off the coast of South Carolina, serves as a fairway haven to numerous golf courses. With the first course opening in 1961, Hilton Head has earned its title "The Golf Island," through careful craftsmanship. But there's more to Hilton Head than just golf. The island offers beautiful beaches, bike paths, restaurants, and other activities, making it an excellent choice for groups that might also include non-golfers or for days when you want a break from the course.
Harbour Town Golf Links at Sea Pines Resort - Perhaps the most famous on the island, this course is home to the RBC Heritage PGA Tour event. With its iconic lighthouse at the 18th hole and designed by Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus, it is a must-play for any golfer visiting the island.
Heron Point by Pete Dye at Sea Pines Resort – This course offers a challenging but fair round of golf. It's a great complement to Harbour Town in a resort that offers multiple top-notch courses.
Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III at Sea Pines Resort – This course is a complete reconstruction of the historic Ocean Course, the first built on Hilton Head Island, and has been transformed into a modern masterpiece with native dunes and indigenous flora.
Palmetto Dunes (Robert Trent Jones Oceanfront Course) - Palmetto Dunes offers three courses, but the Robert Trent Jones Oceanfront Course is the most notable. It has one of only two oceanfront holes on the island and offers a good balance of beauty and challenge.
The Arthur Hills Course at Palmetto Dunes - Another course within the Palmetto Dunes Resort, the Arthur Hills Course stands out for its beautiful layout, incorporating rolling fairways with plenty of water hazards to navigate around.
Myrtle Beach, SC: This self-proclaimed Seaside Golf Capital of the World lives up to its name with 100 golf courses laid out over undulating low country land and the majority of the Myrtle Beach golf courses being open to the public. Plus, many host professional and amateur tournaments. If you want a golf challenge and picturesque beauty, Myrtle Beach offers both with courses crafted by a host of world-renowned architects. This giant outdoor playground is also great for families. With 60 miles of beach and numerous hotel and resort options, you could also plan a family reunion here and incorporate golf into the mix.
The Dunes Golf and Beach Club – This Robert Trent Jones-designed course is one of the most prestigious in the area and is often ranked among the top 100 courses in the U.S. It's known for its history, challenging layout, and stunning coastal views, especially on the par-3 9th hole, which overlooks the ocean.
Caledonia Golf & Fish Club – Often rated as the best course in the Myrtle Beach area, Caledonia is known for its picturesque charm and superb course conditions. The course is set on an old rice plantation and is as beautiful as it is challenging.
TPC Myrtle Beach – This Tom Fazio design offers a tour-quality experience and has hosted senior PGA Tour events. It's a balanced test of golf that rewards good shots and provides an array of strategic challenges.
Barefoot Resort & Golf – With four courses designed by Davis Love III, Greg Norman, Pete Dye, and Tom Fazio, Barefoot Resort is a golfer's dream. The Love Course, in particular, is highly regarded, but all four offer a top-notch golfing experience with unique challenges and design elements.
True Blue Golf Club – The sister course to Caledonia and also designed by Mike Strantz, True Blue offers wide fairways, large greens, and an array of interesting risk-reward holes. It's known for being one of the more creative and visually striking courses in the area.
Pebble Beach, CA: Pebble Beach is a legendary spot for golfers, famous for its stunning ocean-side courses and challenging play. The Pebble Beach Resort features four stunning courses that either hug the coast or have spectacular views of the water. There are many other hotels and resorts reasonably close to the courses and in nearby seaside towns such as Monterey and Carmel. Some of the resorts may offer packages that include rounds at several of the courses mentioned below. Also be prepared for changing weather conditions; it can be sunny one moment and foggy the next, so pack appropriately for the course.
Pebble Beach Golf Links - No list of Pebble Beach courses would be complete without mentioning this iconic course. A host of several U.S. Opens, it's one of the most famous courses in the world, known for its cliff-side fairways and breathtaking views of Carmel Bay.
Spyglass Hill Golf Course - Often considered one of the toughest courses in the world, Spyglass Hill offers a mix of scenic holes with ocean views and forest-lined fairways. It's a challenging but rewarding course for skilled golfers.
The Links at Spanish Bay - This course provides a true Scottish links experience, complete with stunning coastal dunes, rolling fairways, and the sound of bagpipes at the end of the day. It's a great place for friends to enjoy a round in a beautiful setting.
Poppy Hills Golf Course - This course is known for its firm, fast, and fun play. While it doesn't offer ocean views, its beautiful forest setting provides a different type of serene environment to enjoy a round of golf.
Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Shore Course) - Though it's a private club, if you have the opportunity to play here through a connection or special event, it's well worth it. The Shore Course offers a variety of ocean-side holes with spectacular views of the Pacific.
Scotland: Scotland is often considered the "Home of Golf" and has some of the most iconic and historic golf courses in the world. When planning a trip with friends, it’s essential to consider not only the quality of the courses but also the experience they offer, including the clubhouse atmosphere, scenery, and the overall vibe. Here are few of the best courses in Scotland for groups of friends looking for an unforgettable experience:
St. Andrews - As the traditional home of golf, the Old Course at St. Andrews is a pilgrimage site for any serious golfer. It's a public course with a ballot system for tee times, so planning ahead is crucial.
Carnoustie Golf Links - Known for its difficulty, Carnoustie has hosted multiple Open Championships. The Championship Course is a stern test of golf and is steeped in history.
Royal Troon Golf Club - Located on the west coast of Scotland, Royal Troon is another regular Open Championship venue. It offers both the Old Course and the Portland Course, but the former is where the history and the challenge are.
Muirfield - The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield is one of the oldest and most esteemed golf clubs in the world. The course is a regular host to The Open Championship and offers a classic links experience.
Of course, there are many other glorious golf destinations and courses for a group gathering. Whether local or further afield, when considering the best options for your group look for courses that offer not just great play but also excellent facilities (including food and drink!) and the right balance of challenge and enjoyment for varying skill levels. The green fees at many of these prestigious courses come with a steep price tag, particularly during their peak seasons, and securing a tee time can require booking well in advance. To help streamline planning and find better deals, look for multi-course packages that provide better rates and allow your group to experience more than one course during your trip.
Article updated November 2023.
Golf is one sport that you can play year-around... at least if you're willing to travel. So, there's always an opportunity to get out the clubs and enjoy the sunny fairways on a challenging course. It's tee time somewhere.
Tips for planning a memorable golf trip with friends:
Reserve your tee times before you leave home. If you plan nothing else, plan ahead on this. It's no fun waiting around for a tee time if you want to be first to tee off.
Make sure your rental car has enough capacity to pack in all your clubs and luggage. The best bet is a minivan or a full-size SUV. Plan ahead and match the vehicle(s) capacity to your group size.
Save money and double your fun by sharing hotel/condo rooms. Your golf trip instantly becomes more memorable when you share sleeping space. It makes the trip more like camp. Take ear plugs in case your roomie snores.
Pre-arrange a second daily activity. For some of you, this is another 18 rounds. But, most people want a break at least half of one day. Consider a sightseeing activity/tour or fit in time for "required" shopping for those left at home.
Set an overall budget and stick to it. This will help you from overspending and regretting it later. It will also help you think about how many top Zagat restaurants you want to visit.
Get a massage. Golf and spa often go hand in hand as many golf destinations are also spa havens. If you're traveling to a golf resort, chances are you'll find a premier spa on site. Unwind from an active day of swinging clubs with a pampering massage (or a quick short neck/shoulder chair massage if you're on a budget).
Throw in a swimsuit. Ahhh... it just might help to soak in the hot tub after those seldom-used muscles are re-discovered.
Have fun and keep it in the short grass.
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