Beating the Golf Gods

Travel Smarter: Check your on-course essentials

The golf gods are an unscrupulous bunch, omnipotent deities that can elevate your game to heavenly heights or send your swing so far south that it comes back speaking Emperor Penguin. And if you think those jokers limit their shenanigans to the links, brace yourself: They love to trip up entire golf vacations.

Considering the time, effort and money invested in a golf getaway, it can be a costly gamble to just wing it. Doing so might result in a vacation worthy of the scrap heap instead of the scrapbook. What you need, and what the golf gods fear most, is a 10-point checklist of the most essential on-course items:

• Cell Phone: It’s so easy to forget your cell phone and charger. For overseas travel, invest in an electric plug converter and direct your mobile phone carrier to temporarily switch you to a calling/data plan that doesn’t break the bank.

• Passport: Don’t rely on a birth certificate or voter’s registration card to clear customs. Tip: Record your passport number and keep it safe with your other essential numbers (traveler’s checks, credit cards, eyewear and meds prescriptions, email addresses).

• Rain Gear: Pack waterproof, premium-brand rain jacket and pants, in addition to the often-forgotten golf umbrella. If you’re caught in a cloudburst, a 13-gallon plastic trash bag keeps equipment dry.

• Sun Gear: Premium 30-SPF sunscreen, UVA- and UVB-blocking sunglasses and a hat are essential to golfers, especially at higher altitudes.

• Insect Repellent: No-see-ums, mosquitoes and other flying nasties can turn a beautiful day on the links into pure hell. Pack a good supply, especially if you’re headed for the American Southeast.

• Traveler’s Checks/ATM Card: Some high-profile resorts accept only cash, personal checks or travelers checks—no credit cards. In Europe, automatic teller machines are convenient for getting quick cash, plus you won’t have to quibble with exchange rates. Just beware of the fees your bank and the ATM’s owner might charge.

• Dress Code Socks: Private clubs in Australia, like Royal Melbourne in Victoria, mandate players cover their ankles and calves. Bare-leg golfers are a no-no Down Under.

• Spikes/Spike Wrench: Bring extra shoe spikes and a cheap wrench. Sometimes even a well-equipped golf shop won’t carry them.

• More Shoes: After an 18-hole round of golf, especially in humid weather, the inside of a golf shoe feels like hot jelly. Switch to a second pair and let the wet ones air dry for at least 24 hours. (Avoid the heater or hair dryer.)

• More Balls: Prices for premium-brand golf balls outside the United States and Canada are astonishing. In Europe expect to pay $80 and more for a dozen.


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Chris Duthie is a contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer, the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via