I hadn’t warmed up yet to my rental clubs at Savannah Harbor, but I trounced my square TaylorMade driver. I’m thinking to myself, “this is good.” Here I was on the first hole looking at a 95-yard approach to the green.
A little wind. A bunker in front of the flag. And, rental clubs. Hmmm, should I try the 9-iron? Really, when you think about it, it was a stress-free shot. Because if I didn’t hit it right, I had all of these excuses. That’s one of the beauties of renting rather than schlepping.
But, there are others – consider these. . .
- For one, no schlepping. Take along a pair of shoes and a hat. At most courses offering rental sets, you can usually count on a sleeve of balls in the deal. At Savannah Harbor, they were not included, but the nice starter offered up a few extra previously driven balls to compensate for my lack of local knowledge.
- Warm-up. In most cases, we usually take the time to actually warm up and practice a bit with alien clubs. Even hitting a few balls at the range to gauge distance will loosen us up more than the usual exercise of putting on the shoes.
- Try something new. Very often, the clubs available for rent are newer than the ones you’ve been playing with for the last six years. Top destination courses, in collaboration with the club makers and service providers, rotate in new sets (the better the course, the higher the likely price point) every year to two.
- A variety is nice. Renting clubs usually means you get to try out all kinds of clubs. It’s like online dating only safer – and with even less obligation. No one is trying to sell you these clubs, not overtly anyway, but you might still be buying. At some courses – Wailea Golf Club comes to mind – the option to upgrade rentals to “premium sets” offer even more temptation.
“Our premium demo sets are for the avid golfer thinking of buying new clubs,” Wailea’s PGA head professional Rusty Hathaway said. “We’ve got TaylorMade, Callaway, Titleist and Ping sets here, and, yes, we do have some in ladies fit.”
The demo sets run closer to $100 and the regular club rentals are $60 at Wailea. The cost often represents a savings for many travelers over toting their clubs along. It’s typical to incur a charge of at least $30 for checked baggage, and that’s only the first piece; golf clubs could easily cost $100 to transport roundtrip, and more if they weigh in at more than 50 pounds.
For this story, I used a different rental set every day for five days in Maui, and then took another trip where I used yet a sixth set. More recently, I sampled fantastic Callaway sets at the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island and then at the Grand Del Mar.
I came away with a few observations that might be helpful if you’re debating pros and cons. Here’s my feedback.
Rent: Schlepping made a lot of sense to me because I was changing venues every couple of days. That gets old enough with just a suitcase, much less golf clubs. If I were staying put for a week, I could see bringing clubs – unless the resort offered rentals in a package, as many are starting to do.
Schlep: For me, it was difficult to select a good fit because I am tall and “ladies” sets do not fit me well. At Kiawah Island my caddie ran inside at the turn to fetch me a “men’s” driver. I was able to hit much straighter on the back nine. But men’s irons often are steel-shafted in rental sets and for me that seems harsh. I tried so-called senior clubs, but also landed steel shafts. In the end, I played my best round with “ladies” clubs on the last day.
Schlep one club: I found out that a given course may have different putters in otherwise similar sets, or have some demo putters. Ask in the shop about your options. After all, isn’t this our most important club?
One last tip. Keep in mind; it definitely takes a forgiving attitude to play with rental clubs, which may not perform the way your normal clubs do.
Remember that 9-iron on the first hole at Savannah Harbor? It got up in the air beautifully and came up about a yard short of the green, in the bunker. So here I was thinking, “I wish I had my own sand wedge.”
Susan Fornoff, a member of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Women on Course, is publisher of GottaGoGolf Magazine, where this article first appeared.