Stuart Franklin  /  Getty Images
Detail of the Footjoy shoes and colourful clothing of Marcel Siem of Germany during the third round of The BMW International Open Golf at The Munich North Eichenried Golf Club on August 27, 2005, in Munich, Germany.
By Golf Publisher Syndications

Nothing can ruin a golf trip faster than finding something wrong or missing with your clubs and equipment before you even get to the first tee.

Just as practice before a round of golf is good for your game, proper planning and preparation can help assure that your equipment is as ready as you are when you reach your destination. The following tips have been compiled from experienced golf travelers.

* Plan to pack and prepare your clubs for the trip in the same manner as the rest of your luggage. Prepare the night before: Clean out each pocket of the bag and discard old gloves, balls, etc. Add a dozen of your favorite balls, one new glove, sunscreen and a small bag of tees, markers, repair tools and extra spikes. A pair of soft-spike shoes can be packed in most large pockets. It’s recommended that you travel with soft-spike shoes, because metal spikes are no longer accepted at most courses.

On a trip of three days or less, consider renting clubs at your destination. Rental sets are available for anywhere between $15-$45 per day at most courses, but call ahead to be sure. Be aware, not all golfers like renting: Many golf courses rent dated clubs, or mix-and-match sets. Golfers used to their own clubs sometimes feel funny playing with a strange set.

If playing with your own clubs is a must, you’ll have to check them in as baggage at the airport, if you’re flying, which presents certain dangers.

"I’ve had my own clubs broken three times in the last 10 years," said Bob Klingensmith, founder of Gear to Go. "I’ve had them mis-shipped twice in just the last 12 months. I’ve been charged for excess weight and oversized baggage and missed two flights due to long security delays in which my golf bag was given a ‘full body search’ each time lasting 45 minutes."

So, Klingensmith founded Gear to Go, a combination of a rental and demo golf club company. Traveling golfers can go to the company Web site ( www.gear-to-go), pick out the latest clubs from top manufacturers, and have them delivered to their airport of choice. They can then use the clubs — Callaway, TaylorMade, Adams or Nike — for as long as they want and return them when they leave. The cost is about $200 a week, but be aware that the company operates currently in limited areas.

* If you still insist on playing with your own clubs — and most of us do — you’ll need a travel bag. Basically, there are two types: hard and soft. The hard bag offers obvious advantages. It protects your clubs from any angle, so that if crazed baggage handlers drop an anvil on it, your clubs should still be protected. They tend to be a little more expensive.

Soft-sided bags are more maneuverable and tend to cost less, for the most part. TravelGolf.com tested a soft-sided bag, the Callaway Great Big Bertha Cart Golf Bag Carrier with a suggested retail price of $229.

Like its namesake driver, it’s big, measuring 15 inches wide, 51 inches high and 20.5 inches deep. It’s sized to hold the biggest bags and longest clubs. There’s so much room, in fact, you could store your caddy in there — if he was a midget and didn’t mind high altitudes.

There are other bags out there you might want to consider, at roughly the same price. SKB has a hard, contoured travel case that sells for around $160. The Ogio Straight Jacket gets good reviews from users, with its hard back, sealed ball-bearing rollers and heavy shoulder strap.

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Ogio also makes The Rig, a travel case that doubles as a regular bag during your round (the top comes off).

* You may also want to consider letting a golf packager do the dirty work for you. Most reputable golf packagers are insiders who know the area and its golf courses well — which hotels don’t have cockroaches and which courses have just been overseeded and airified and might be unfit to play. They can set up lodging, transportation and tee times, and leave you worrying only about your bad swing.

For example, golf mecca Myrtle Beach can be a maze to newcomers, with more than 100 area courses. Golf packagers such as Myrtle Beach Travel; Carolina Golf Travel, or Myrtle Beach Tourism can ease your confusion and frustration considerably. Likewise, in Florida, try Gulf Coast Golf Tours and in Arizona, consider Arizona Golf Packages or in Las Vegas Golf Travel.

Our golf bloggers spend a great deal of time traveling from course to course (what a life!). Here’s a selection of their top tips for travelers - where to stay, great restaurants, over-rated destinations, and more!

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