Playing Pick-up Sticks

For years, I was happy to wheel my travel bag through airport baggage reclaim areas and out to Ground Transportation or the car rental office. It was a bit of a pain, but really, with the thought of playing golf in brilliant sunshine racing through my mind, it was but a minor inconvenience.

Then parcel companies and specialist carriers began offering a club-shipping service, saying they would unburden you of having to get your clubs from your house to your first golf course. It sounded like a plan but, in its early years, I didn’t give this option a second glance. Why on Earth would I give money I had earned to somebody else for doing something I had been doing quite happily for several years myself?

Clearly this was a service for people who didn’t have to consider their budget—people who no doubt flew at the front of the plane, and who probably hired caddies at every course they played. It was an unnecessary luxury for which I was absolutely not going to pay.

As I entered my fifth decade, however, and my back began shouting very loudly at me, I did at least begin reading the ads long enough to see how much it might cost to have my clubs picked up at my house, taken to the airport, put on a plane, retrieved at the destination, driven to the first course on my itinerary, then taken from the last course back to the airport, put on another plane, picked up, and driven back to my house.

Immediately after locating the price though, I would laugh, roll my eyes, push the magazine away, and prepare myself for another journey hauling my sticks through the airport, a task I admit was becoming ever more tedious. But when the airlines began making laughably excessive charges for squeezing your clubs into a tiny space in the plane’s hold and throwing them around with little regard when offloading, I finally took the plunge.

There were a few options, but the company most likely to earn my business was FedEx mainly because I enjoyed the TV commercial with the guy who invents a shrink ray to make his clubs a more manageable size (but who hasn’t yet devised a way to reverse the process). But then somebody told me about a company called Ship Sticks which not only worked a standard $1,000 of insurance into their rates (higher pay-outs are available), but also seemed a good bit cheaper than the competition.

I tried the service in January when my clubs and I flew from Seattle to Orlando and—what do you know?—everything went as quickly, accurately and efficiently as a 2004 Peyton Manning pass. And when I saw a handful of other folks struggling with heavy golf bags, the pain of paying somebody  else to transport my clubs seemed to just shrivel up and die.

You’ll not catch me lugging a set of golf clubs through an airport again.


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