Bucket List Golf Trips: Pack Light or Pack Right?
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Bucket List Golf Trips: Pack Light or Pack Right?

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Bucket List Golf Trips: Pack Light or Pack Right?

Bucket list golf trips are every golfer’s Holy Grail.

There are courses every golfer dreams of playing. Most are realistic and within reach if you can convince the Household Savings and Loan to okay the expenditure, like Pebble, Bandon, Whistling Straits or Scotland. And then there are pipe dreams like, oh, I don’t know, Augusta National, Seminole or Cypress Point. Those are open only to the precious and the few.

But let’s say you’ve secured spousal approval and scored the trip of a lifetime to cross the holiest of Grails off your list: the Old Course at St Andrews. It’s The Home of Golf. It’s hallowed ground and it’s a trip you’ll remember forever.

And if you’re lucky enough to go, you’ll want to make sure you pack right for the adventure.

Bucket list golf trips

I’ve been fortunate enough to make that trip three times and have learned a thing or two. In that spirit, we’ve prepared this little packing guide to help you make sure you have the essentials without overloading your golf bag or suitcase.

First rule: Don’t overpack. You’re going to want suitcase space to bring back souvenirs. How else can you remind your buddies that you went to St Andrews and they didn’t?

That’s half the fun right there.

The Bucket List Golf Trip Packing Guide: The Right Bags

There’s an old saying about travel: Good luggage isn’t cheap and cheap luggage isn’t good.

When you travel for a living, you quickly learn the truth behind that statement. Cheap luggage may hold up for a year, maybe two. Soon, however, you’ll find out why it was cheap. The same is true of golf travel bags. If you fly with your babies, you don’t want to learn the hard way.

So the first step in packing right for a Bucket List Golf Trip is finding the right luggage to pack your stuff in.

Sun Mountain ClubGlider golf bag travel bag

For years I traveled with a quality four-wheel spinner suitcase. It was easier to stroll through airports with than a standard two-wheel roller. The downside was my old golf travel bag was a two-wheel roller, which meant I was essentially rolling one bag while dragging another. I upgraded to the four-wheeled Sun Mountain ClubGlider, which is like pulling a cloud. The downside, however, is that you have one hand on the ClubGlider, the other on your suitcase and you’re in the middle. In the parlance of NASCAR, you’re traveling three-wide through the terminal.

For our most recent trip, my wife and I stumbled on something that surprised us both.

Bucket list golf trips

Club Glove Train Reaction System

The Club Glove Train Reaction System isn’t what you’d call “revolutionary.” Flight crews use something similar. But it does make traveling with multiple suitcases and a golf bag much less cumbersome.

Each suitcase in Club Glove’s TRS line features a loop hidden in a zippered pocket near the handle. Club Glove golf travel bags also have a loop. When you thread the loop of one over the extended handle of the other, you create a train.

For our trip, we used the smaller TRS Ballistic Carry On (22”H x 13.5”W x 9.5”D) and the larger TRS Ballistic Check-In (29”H x 14”W x 12”D) to go along with the Pro Traveler golf travel bag. We formed a three-bag train that rolled through Boston Logan’s International Terminal like the California Zephyr.

Cornering, however, took some practice. You can’t turn on a dime, or even a quarter, but we were able to get from the parking garage to check in without hurting anyone. We did find that splitting the train (golf bag and large suitcase for me, small suitcase for my wife) made it easier to maneuver through hotel lobbies and train stations.

Ship Sticks is always an option. The upside is you don’t have to drag your clubs through airports, train stations, Ubers or anywhere else. You leave them on your front step and, like magic, the next time you see them is at your golf destination. The round-trip price from New Hampshire to St Andrews was upwards of $450, however. My frequent flyer status with Delta includes three free checked bags so that money wound up being reallocated to my wife’s scarf budget.

Club Glove luggage

What To Pack: Hard Goods

In this case, “hard goods” include golf clubs and anything else that’s not clothing.

First, there’s the question of bringing your clubs or renting. If it’s a bucket list destination, you’ll want your own sticks. Free checked bags with Delta made that decision a little easier but there’s comfort in having your gamers on the first tee at the Old Course. And you definitely want your first string wedge for this shot on the Road Hole.

Bucket list golf trips

And if you don’t use a Stiff Arm or equal in your travel bag, I’m not sure we can be friends.

Second, since this is Scotland, it’s a good idea to pack two pairs of golf shoes, if you have them. Waterproof, or at least water-resistant, is a must.

Scotland is a walking golfer’s paradise, so leave the cart bag at home and opt for something light and minimalistic. I used the Penfold Sunday Stand Bag for this trip. It has more storage than you’d think, but not so much that you’d be tempted to load it up with stuff you won’t need. Your caddie will appreciate it.

Penfold Sunday stand bag

Pack enough golf balls for the trip, as balls tend to be pricey at resorts.

Other Golf Essentials

If you hire a caddie, you won’t need your rangefinder. But you will want a distance-measuring device for caddie-less rounds. Shot-tracking GPS packages such as ARCOSS or Shot Scope fit the bill and provide a shot-by-shot memory book. The up-and-down for par from the Valley of Sin is worth remembering. The other 85 shots, not so much.

Shot Scope Shot tracking

You’d think an umbrella is essential but we never used ours on the course. Our rain gear (more on that later) plus a waterproof cap were more than enough.

Most bucket list courses will provide tees, a ball marker and a divot tool, but bringing your own never hurts.

Electronics

Since you’re going to take pictures, you’ll need your phone. And since you’re going to want to text those pictures to your friends back home so you can rub their noses in it, you’re also going to want a limited international calling and data plan. T-Mobile has a 10-day plan that won’t break the bank.

Bucket list golf trips

Traveling with my better half has taught me one important lesson: you can never have too many chargers and cables. By my count, she misplaced five iPhone cables during our trip (they all resurfaced when we got home, from the abyss known as her purse). We also packed a wireless charging pad and two portable battery packs, just in case.

Power converters for overseas travel come in all shapes and sizes. My favorite is this multi-outlet cube that comes with different plugs for the UK and continental Europe. A single-outlet converter with a power strip is another option.

Laptop, iPad and noise-canceling headphones (great for the red-eye flight to London) all went into my carry-on backpack. So did an emergency change of clothes, because you never can tell.

Rain Gear: A Scottish Must-Have

It doesn’t matter what the weather reports say, Bucket List golf trips to Scotland (or even Bandon) demand good rain gear. Nothing sucks more than getting stuck in a sudden downpour when the only thing between you and the rain is a short-sleeve polyester-pima cotton-Spandex golf shirt.

You may not like the price but MyGolfSpy’s testing shows that KJUS makes the very best rain gear. One thing I’ve always struggled with when playing golf in rain gear is fabric stretch. More precisely, the lack of it, makes swinging a bit cumbersome.

The KJUS Pro 3L 3.0 rain jacket features what the company calls Hyper-stretch panels on the shoulders and sides, which the company says provides four times more stretch.  I don’t know if it really is four times more but I was able to swing more freely in this jacket.

The Pro 3L 3.0 rain pants slide over your regular pants and don’t sag when you put anything in the pockets. Velcro loops on the side serve as a kind of mini-belt and they even have integral flaps that cover your shoes to keep water from seeping in. I also found them to be adequately breathable with no overheating when the sun would come out intermittently.

We also tried the KJUS Reach jacket and Radiation vest. The vest was splendidly warm and fit comfortably under the rain jacket (it does get cold, windy and, of course, rainy in Scotland).

KJUS rain gear

The $1,000 Question

Here’s the part that’s guaranteed to make you howl. The KJUS jacket and pants combo will run you over $1,000. Unless your name is Gates, Zuckerberg, Bezos or Buffett, that number might make you choke. There are plenty of serviceable options well below that price so we won’t offer something as trite as, “you get what you pay for.” I’ve worn less expensive rain gear ranging from cheap and awful (Amazon specials) to mid-range and serviceable (FootJoy) and pricier and exceptional (Galway Bay).

In terms of performance (and price), however, KJUS is in a different league.

KJUS rain gear at St Andrews

I’m not here to tell you how to spend your money nor would I presume to tell you KJUS rain gear is worth a cool grand. That’s up to you. It’s your money. You earned it, you get to spend it any way you want or, if you’re like me, in any way you can get away with (Just be sure to keep your mouth shut about your better half’s daily Amazon shipments. It’s a losing battle).

If you really want to buy some KJUS rain gear for that bucket list trip, you won’t be disappointed. Surprised maybe, but not disappointed. If the money’s too much, there are perfectly fine options at lower price points.

Your money, your choice.

The Rest of the Wardrobe

That was the uncomfortable part. The rest of your bucket list golf attire is a lot easier. Now that I’m 40 percent through my sexagenarian years, warmth is a precious commodity. A couple of base-layer top and bottom sets go a long way toward keeping these old bones happy. Warmth is king on the Firth of Forth in early April. Ditto for any off-season trip to Pebble, Bandon or Whistling Straits.

We called them “long johns” in the old days. Today, companies like Under Armour, NIKE and Tommy John make base layer sets from high-tech fabrics that are great for golf. They’re comfortable and warm without being stifling.

A tip for long flights: Consider compression socks. Your legs and feet can swell uncomfortably with all that sitting. Non-medical compression socks don’t require a prescription and help encourage circulation.

One thing I didn’t think through on this trip was headwear. I tossed a couple of my favorite golf hats in with my clubs and never gave them a second thought until we got to St Andrews.

That’s when it started raining.

Fortunately, St Andrews is overrun with places to buy golf stuff – clubs, balls, apparel, souvenirs and, as it turns out, rain hats. While Joel Dahmen looks good in a bucket hat, I tend to look more like a doofus, so that wasn’t an option. I did find a waterproof Titleist cap at The Golf Shop of St Andrews that worked out perfectly.  

A smarter guy would have sprayed a couple of hats with 303 Fabric Guard before leaving and saved the 30 pounds.

Those scarves add up.

Taking Any Bucket List Golf Trips?

Do you have any Bucket List golf trips planned for 2024? Let us hear about them in the comments below.

And we’re always available if you need a fourth.

This article was written in partnership with KJUS.

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John Barba

John Barba

John Barba

John is an aging, yet avid golfer, writer, 6-point-something handicapper living back home in New England after a 22-year exile in Minnesota. He loves telling stories, writing about golf and golf travel, and enjoys classic golf equipment. “The only thing a golfer needs is more daylight.” - BenHogan

John Barba

John Barba

John Barba

John Barba

John Barba

John Barba





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      Chuck Zirkle

      4 weeks ago

      All these trips to Ireland and Scotland sound so great, but since my last trip over my medical issues restrict me to riding only and cannot play these type courses any longer. Love Ireland and did not get to the old course when I was physically able. When we played Ireland, we played in shorts. The weather was very cooperative. So were the pub. It tastes so much better on tap. Loved Dingle Bay.

      Reply

      Paul Schleier, DDS

      4 weeks ago

      Myself and a golf buddy are going to NW Ireland to play golf at Carne, Enniscrone, and County Sligo July 4-11, and we need a third player to complete our team as we are also playing in the Atlantic Coast Challenge, held July 8-10. We have a great rental house with each player having a private BR and bathroom. I am driving as I live in Europe (retired USAF Prosthodontist) so there is no rental car expense. Your costs are $600 for the house, $220 for the tournament, and $330 for four practice rounds. Our third player had to cancel due to family issues. Check out the three courses on YouTube videos. Great courses and fun, yet challenging to play. Requesting a decent golfer and no Democrats. Respond to [email protected] I will meet you at the airport in Knock, Ireland on July 4th between 12-2 PM

      Reply

      Alf Sheppard

      1 month ago

      As ever great article John. You do make it sound that it is always bad weather in Scotland. “There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” Scotland in April you can get 75°F sunshine or 24°F with hailstones. Getting comfortable clothes can be a challenge I usually layer up and gilets are are great way to do this. I usually wear a t-shirt, sleeveless 1/4 zip, sleeved 1/4 zip and gilet. In my bag I will have a KJUS lightweight rain top, full set of Callaway Stormguard waterproofs, a snood, winter mitts and hats. This covers me for almost any conditions Scotland can throw at me. If it’s warm down to a t-shirt, cold with a wind the KJUS goes on, rain then the full suit. It can take me a few holes to get my temperature regulated.

      Reply

      Andy

      1 month ago

      Hi all. I’m from the far North East corner of England and so play all of my golf in close proximity to st Andrews etc. I’d adjust that wardrobe a little …. First off, get a pair of rain gloves (Glenmuir are the best in my opinion). They’ll improve your grip and increase your enjoyment and performance. Secondly I’d include a lightly quilted gilet. They keep you warm, stop the wind where it matters, and they’ll resist a quick shower but allow you the freedom of movement to play properly. If I was going to remove anything from the list it’d be the long Johns unless you’re going between October and April. Keep your core warm and your legs won’t be an issue. Happy golfing!

      Reply

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    Drivers
    Jun 11, 2024
    Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Ti 340 Mini Driver
    Putters
    Jun 11, 2024
    Triple Black Evnroll 38 Tour Spec Putters
    FootJoy limited FootJoy limited
    First Look
    Jun 11, 2024
    JUST DROPPED: FootJoy Red Clay Premiere Series