Should you get a hard or soft travel bag when flying?

A golfer rolls their golf clubs through an airport.

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Welcome to GOLF’s Travel Mailbag, a series in which members of our staff field your course- and travel-related queries. Have a question for a future mailbag? Tweet us at @golf_com.

Should you get a hard or soft travel bag when flying?

There’s a great scene from The Simpsons where Bart and Lisa are at loggerheads over something and decide to settle matters by playing Rock, Paper, Scissors.

“Poor, predictable Bart,” Lisa says to herself in voice-over. “Always takes rock.”

“Good old rock,” Bart says to himself in voice-over. “Nothing beats that!”

Can you see where this is headed? In a quest to shield your clubs from potential damage, you might be tempted to go with a hard cover. Hard is tough, after all. Impenetrable. Protective.

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You know what else? Hard is a headache. Ever tried hauling a coffin through an airport? That’s what wrestling with a hard case is like. And don’t even get us started on the logistical hassles of cramming a hard-cover case into a rental car. Or caveman-dragging it down a hotel hallway.

As one veteran golf tour operator told us, people who hit the road with hard-cover cases tend to fall into one of two categories.

“They are either CEOs or celebrities who have other people to do the heavy lifting for them,” the operator said. “Or they are the nutty professor types.”

Meaning, they have a loose grasp on how the world actually works. The moral of the story: don’t think like Bart. Go with a soft bag. The best brands provide plenty of protection, with durable material and padding in all of the right places. They also come with well-designed stiff arms, which help absorb any torques and twists.

You’ll want a bag with wheels for ease of transport, and, ideally, extra room for stashing extra clothes, or dirty laundry.

Good old soft-cover cases. Nothing beats them. (To find our favorites and more key travel accessories, click here.)

Want to overhaul your bag for 2022? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf.

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A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.

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