- May 22, 2020 // The Consummate Pro
A question we are being asked more and more by clients is, “Can/should we ship our golf clubs?”.
Golf club shipping is a relatively new phenomenon, but is becoming increasingly popular in the last few years. To answer that question, we trialled a number of the services ourselves to share our first-hand experience with you. Before we do so, the first question to address is why do you would want to ship your golf clubs in the first place and what does that involve?
Why ship your golf clubs to your destination?
There are a number of reasons why people could/should consider shipping their golf clubs ahead to their initial destination. The first is obviously convenience. Golf travellers will already know just how cumbersome it can be to haul a set of clubs, luggage, and no doubt hand luggage to an airport. Shipping eliminates at least one of these burdens. Furthermore, it’s not unusual for our clients to tag a business trip onto the end of their golf trip. How better to lighted the load than to send your golf bag back home to the States, while you fly on to London, Zurich or Stockholm.
All of the services that we tried involve ‘door-to-door’ pick-up and delivery. So, if you want your clubs collected from your house, office or golf club in advance of your golf vacation to Ireland or Scotland, you decide. The same goes for timing. Some of the service providers will actually give you a 2hr pick-up window, their service is that precise. Finally, you don’t have to run the gauntlet of the check-in desks either. You are given an assurance that you will not receive any unpredictable fees or charges at the end of the process (unless of course you pack something you shouldn’t have!).
The second reason is a degree of guarantee. We have all heard the horror stories of luggage going on a magical mystery tour of the world’s baggage halls. By shipping ahead, your golf clubs will be transferred by freight, not commercial airlines, so you avoid the airport lottery completely. One less thing to worry about. Furthermore, your clubs are also automatically insured up to $500 as standard with most providers, and that even includes damage to your ClubGlove. Additional insurance can be purchased if required. If your bag is delayed, and not delivered when they say, your will receive a credit plus your original money back. Full tracking is provided so that you can see precisely where your bag is at all times.
Thirdly, and unlike the airports, you can pack as much as you like in your golf bag. The providers offer you max limits, in some instances up to 60kgs, so you have no excuse not to take the kitchen sink with you. On a 10-day trip, those waterproofs, shoes and golf balls all add up!
So, what the process like when you book?
We used the shipping company “Luggage Forward” for our most recent shipment from Belfast to Florida and back again in January. We made the booking through their website, a straightforward 3-step process with ‘Help’ icons along the way if required. The automated address pop-up function is very reassuring, giving you the sense that you cannot make a mistake entering your destination address. The system asks for basic information after that such as colour of your ClubGlove, approx. weight etc.
The final stage is customs related, and this is where I was most impressed. Unlike the old paper process, all of the documentation is pre-populated for you. Yes, you have to tick ‘agree’ to confirm you haven’t packed any prohibitive materials, with any customs check, but after that, you’re good to go. I needed to provide a copy of my flight itinerary by email and a photograph (taken on my iPhone), of the picture page of my passport, but that was it. I received an immediate confirmation of the shipment and was told that my documents would arrive approximately one week before I were due to depart.
Sure enough, as promised, a packet arrived by courier the week before I was due to leave. Inside were two very, very, robust luggage tags – I tried to rip one, and couldn’t. There were two sets of documents, one for the outbound leg, one for the return, and a handful of mini cable ties. The luggage tag had a clear pocket on the front into which the documents were placed to allow the collecting courier to scan, and copies of customs information for him to remove. There was also a copy of each that could be placed inside the bag itself for added reassurance. I followed the fool proof instructions, inserted the docs, sealed the clear plastic folder, removed the adhesive strip and secured the tag around the handle of the ClubGlove. It was going nowhere, the cable-ties were obsolete, and all we had to do was wait.
Collection, Delivery, and Return
The allotted courier arrived in the 2-hour window on the day assigned and off went my clubs. As he left the driveway, I received an email confirming that my clubs were in transit. It included the necessary tracking information and I could click the link whenever I wished, to follow the bags progress. A 5-day delivery timeframe had been guaranteed; my clubs were in my Florida hotel in three. Impressive! A few days later I flew, remembering to take the copy of the return leg docs and tag with me in my hand luggage, and sure enough my bag was with the concierge as promised. I replicated the process on the return leg, leaving my clubs with the hotel concierge. I flew out on a Friday evening from Orlando to Dublin and transferred to Belfast on Saturday. My clubs arrived at my front door on Tuesday morning!
Personally, I couldn’t fault the process or the service, and the delivery times were certainly very impressive. But there must be some downsides I hear you say? It’s got to be incredibly expensive? What’s the catch?
So, there are always trade off’s in using a service like this. The first to consider is the journey time. Irrespective of shipping provider, they will need to collect your clubs between 5-7 days in advance of you needing them. This allows them to provide that “guarantee” in their delivery promise. So, if you were planning on playing in the club medal on the Saturday, flying to Ireland that night and having your clubs on the first tee of Royal Portrush on Monday morning, think again. The likelihood is that you are going to need a 2nd ‘favourite’ set to play with on Saturday!
So, what is the cost to ship golf clubs? A round trip golf bag from the USA to the UK or vice versa, will set you back approx. $220 per leg, high season. Not exactly loose change to the average golfer, but it’s a cost-benefit analysis. You’ve planned your Bucket List golf trip for two years, paid your money and have been looking forward to it more than anything. Do you want to stand on the first tee at Ballybunion on day one of your golf vacation with a shiny set of rental clubs in hand all because your airline of choice has mislaid your golf bag? And that in truth is the stark choice for many of us. It is also a growing reality. Each summer we spend increasingly more time on calls to baggage handlers looking for our clients’ golf clubs. We get it.
However, having used the service, I know which option I would choose every day and twice on Sunday’s!
Our shipping company of choice, who specialize in golf, is Luggage Forward. Not only have they been offering a golf club shipping service longer than anyone else, their proprietary algorithm, that drives the logistics process behind the scenes, is simply mind-boggling. We should know, we’ve seen it first hand on a visit to their Boston office headquarters. But it is not just automation. If you need to speak to a human, there is one at the end of a telephone, 24/7. As a preferred partner, Luggage Forward offer us a unique discount that we pass directly onto you. Please follow this link, to avail of that discount for your next time you wish to ship your golf clubs. We highly recommend that you try the service for your next golf trip with The Consummate Pro.