I’ve traveled for a couple of years with a soft-sided travel case and been lucky not to have had any broken clubs or issues. However I’m starting to take golf trips more frequently and last year a friend of mine had clubs broken on back to back trips with a soft case, so I decided I should probably switch to a hard case.
I thought this would be a fairly simple thing – go to the store, buy a case, done. It ended up being a lot more shopping than I’d expected – maybe my exploration will be useful to others.
This is what I originally wanted, having seen my buddy’s SKB case, however I didn’t know exactly what he had and couldn’t find one locally.
What I did find were a bunch of cases that had flimsy (at best) connections between the top section that covered the clubheads and the main body of the case. A couple of nylon straps connected via staples and holding the top on with velcro isn’t my idea of a secure closure.
After checking 5 local stores, I temporarily abandoned my search for a hybrid case and moved on to looking at…
I’d read the review of the Telebag and thought that would be a good option, however it didn’t have a way of locking in the fully open position1 and the straps holding the bottom to the body of the case seemed a little flimsy. In reading reviews, folks were indeed complaining of the straps failing.
Bag Boy makes a 3 piece sectional case that I looked at next. However even the smaller of the two versions2 was larger than the coffin-style hard cases when it was put together. That got me looking at standard…
I looked at a number of standard coffin-style hard cases and eventually bought the Datrek Blue Whale because it was the only one I found that had a TSA approved locking mechanism. After I purchased it, I looked on the Datrek web site and saw the smaller Tomato version. I called around and finally found one locally at a new Golf Galaxy store.
The Tomato was a really great coffin-style case. It fit my Nike stand bag quite nicely and snugly, and had the same TSA approved locking mechanism that the Blue Whale did.
However, the Golf Galaxy also had a nice hybrid case as well. Which brings us to our…
Though it was a good $70 more than the Tomato, I finally bought the Callaway Hybrid Golf Bag. It’s much smaller than a coffin-style hard case and it has a strong plastic body.
The top is connected with 2 metal clasp mechanisms that are very cleverly designed. Even if they get “released” in transit, the top won’t come off. It’s very well done.
The only issue I had was trying to fit all my clubs inside the head of the case. It was a pretty tight fit, and took a long time. I had to take off headcovers, etc. and I could just barely get it all in. However, this hassle was due to my own impatience. When I looked further into one of the pockets, I discovered that Callaway included a nice big sock that was just what the doctor ordered. You hold all the clubs together, slide the sock over them, and it’s a piece of cake to get the lid on. The sock holds them all in place under the hood. I was even able to keep all my headcovers on.
The only gripe I have about the case is there isn’t a good loop to attach your towel or accessory bag to. Next time I will attach a carabiner to the top dividers and hook my towel, etc. to that.
I’ve only taken one trip with the Callaway bag so far, but it performed admirably. Highly recommended.
UPDATE January 2013: The Callaway finally broke on my recent trip, but 5+ years from a travel bag isn’t bad.