With baggage fees so high and golf clubs so heavy, don’t rental clubs make sense for women on a golf vacation? Our experiment, with tips for travelers.
On the mainland U.S., services will ship your golf clubs to your vacation destination for little more than $100 roundtrip. Add up baggage fees and this makes more sense than lugging your clubs through airports, lobbies and any ground transportation hoops you need to navigate.
But if you’re headed out of the country or to Hawaii, the shipping cost multiplies by three-plus. So if you’re just going to play golf three or four times, rental clubs suddenly make sense.
“But,” you say, “I have to have MY clubs. Not just any clubs will do.”
The good news: You’re unlikely to use just “any clubs” because most golf resorts that cater to couples carry the latest rental clubs, even for women who prefer the lighter-flex clubs marketed as for ladies. The bad news: What you get may vary wildly from course to course, often depending on how much the round and rentals cost you.
MY JOURNEY WITH RENTAL CLUBS
I played the first of five rounds of golf at Wailea’s Gold Course. Wailea’s Gold and, especially, its Emerald are highly popular with women. So the pro shop is full of the latest clothes for women and the rental clubs are TaylorMade M2s that look brand new. I learn that Wailea, like other places I would play during my week on Maui, gets new rental sets for men and women every year.
This set ($60, but less with packages) is heavy on woods and hybrids and, with three wedges in the bag, holds just four irons. That’s the trend for women’s clubs and I like it. The challenge, which would play out daily, would be to figure out how far I would hit those hybrids. I never quite do, but fortunately the wedges are my friends. (And BTW: Wailea also offers shoe rentals!)
The next day at King Kamehameha Golf Club, I’m given the Callaway Rx ladies’ clubs with a White Hot putter ($45). The driver feels like a fit, and I fall in love with the putter. Again, there aren’t many irons. Fortunately by the sixth hole, when I need to carry 110 yards to cross a creek, I know one of the hybrids has that capability.
On the third day, I’m playing by myself at the Four Season Resort Lanai’s Manele golf course with a Titleist women’s set that has a 3 hybrid and a 4 hybrid, whatever that means. I open the round by hitting the green in regulation from 125 yards with one of the hybrids, but I can never keep them quite straight. I love the driver and the 5-wood, and learn why the Scotty Cameron putters are so beloved. These sets rent for $200 a week; if you’re staying at this posh resort, it won’t be a one-nighter!
On the fourth day at Ka’anapali, it’s Nike time at $55/set. Three woods, no hybrids, old school. The putter grip is tiny, even on the men’s putter, which is weighted better than the women’s. The irons remind me of women’s clothing sizes — I’m a 10 in all the other brands but in this one I need a 14. They seem too short for me (petites maybe?) and they’re just not going anywhere. Nike isn’t making golf clubs anymore and, well, yay.
At Kapalua, the Bay Course has Callaways and the Plantation has Titleists. I’m happy to see either and I’m playing the Plantation so it’s Titleist. If you prefer Callaways, call ahead and the Bay will send some up the hill. Rental sets generally cost about $75, including two sleeves of balls.
This set, however, runs from W-5 iron and holds just a 3-wood (generally not a friend to the average woman player) and hybrid in addition to two extra steel-shafted wedges with which I have not practiced. The Scotty Cameron is there, though, and that’s a key on the big-greened Plantation Course. Oddly, knowing I will hit driver-hybrid on most holes simplifies the game for me and I play better. The irons again feel short.
WHAT I LEARNED THAT WILL HELP IF YOU USE RENTAL CLUBS ON VACATION
- Plan to hit a few practice balls to dial in your distances. It would be nice if all 9-irons carried the same, but they do not. Figure out full sand wedge and full 8-iron and use your math skills for the rest.
- Renting clubs on vacation is a good way to try out the latest golf weapons, which are increasingly more forgiving than the old stuff. So if you’re in the market this is worth the splurge.
- If you are tall or have a powerful swing, you will have to ask for men’s clubs or, a better choice for most women, men’s senior sets. I regret that I did not do this once or twice along the way because the beloved club in my bag is a senior-flex Cobra 4 hybrid that seems to forgive even my worst swings.
- Hybrids may be the best thing that’s happened to women’s golf since Nancy Lopez, but they’re problematic. There is no uniformity on the numbers they carry. Early in your round, use them for long approach shots so you can swing fully and test their distances.
- Shop for packages. At the time of this post, Ka’anapali’s website was offering a week of unlimited golf with rental clubs for only $699. Ladies, we know it pays to shop!
- Golf courses want to make money, so if you want to rent clubs at Wailea and use them to play elsewhere, just ask. If I were playing four or five rounds and I liked my first-day set, that’s what I would do.