It’s off-season for many golfers in the northern states of the us. Time to take a break from those early morning tee times and take time to do some “in-door” golf, i.e. at computer-generated golf courses or with a temporary indoor putting green within the middle of the living room.

For anyone golfers determined to play throughout the year and are traveling south to warmer climes, a golf travel bag becomes a necessary purchase. Whether you are traveling by plane or train, your golf clubs need protection. (Several years ago, traveling to Hilton Head for golf, among the women in our group had the head of her very expensive driver snapped off whenever a careless baggage handler tossed her golf travel bag onto the tarmac. The airline gave her some monetary compensation, but as the driver was not brand new, the total amount was not equal to the price of replacement. – That is another story.) The point is that your clubs represent a large investment and they need to be protected when you travel.

So which bag is best? Hard case? Soft case? Your decision might rely upon how much you travel with your golf clubs, the amount extra space you may need for shoes, balls, towels, etc. (I stuff all kinds of extra stuff in my bag, including my bed pillow! which helps give a little extra padding. And with the airlines charging you extra for that second bag anyway, why not stuff the golf travel bag with clothes as well?)

Here are a few types of travel bags you might consider using on your next golf trip.

This style is utilized by more touring professionals on the PGA, Champions, and LPGA tours – choose a bag with wheels that causes it to be easy to maneuver. Check to be sure the padding is extra thick to protect your clubs and choose a bag which has plenty of extra pockets with solid zippers so you can carry all those “extra” items.

This kind of bag can be used both the golf course and while traveling. Look for one that offers all of the features of a cart bag, and it has a rigid “helmet” you can add when you take it on the road. Choose a bag with in-line wheels for an easier time crossing those long airport lobbies.

This kind of bag has a cloth cover but should be reinforced with some interior lamination, usually using PVC. Soft sides should be well padded. Quilted material is best. And make sure you test the bag strap for easy carrying as well as the wheels for a smooth glide. We recommend you read this for a better understanding.

The bottom line in deciding which type of golf travel bag you purchase relies on the total amount of traveling you plan on doing, just how much protection you may need, and also the value of your clubs. Soft cases with a lot of padding are lighter, and easier to handle, and they protect your clubs in the majority of circumstances. Hard cases tend to be heavier but promise better protection, even though also they can snap open unless you add strapping for security. Nearly every travel case can fit fourteen clubs plus your golf bag, but if you have an extra long driver, be sure the length of the travel bag can accommodate it. You don’t want to leave that special club at home!

Ask your golfing friends. Visit a variety of web pages to see what they offer. But as always, you get what you pay for. Do you really want to put your thousand dollar clubs inside a $29 bag you bought at the local Big Lots.