Butterfield Bermuda Championship

Port Royal Golf Course

Ask Golf Digest

March 28, 2019

Illustrations by Ron Barrett


Q: On a recent golf trip, the airline broke one of my clubs. On the flight back, they broke one of my wife's clubs. The airline's response: We are not responsible for anything that happens to oversize bags. What can golfers do to get compensation when this happens?

A: The dreaded double-breaker! Before flying, it's worth taking a moment to read the airline's “conditions of carriage” on its website. Some do exclude payment for damage to oversize luggage, as yours did. Many will cover broken clubs, but only if they're in a hard case.

Attorney Jeff Ment, who specializes in travel issues, suggests insuring your clubs if you're concerned about it. You'll pay about $5 per $100 of coverage, up to $5,000.

Do you have any recourse if the airline says it's not paying? Small-claims court is one option. Ment recommends becoming a squeaky wheel, with phone calls and emails and complaints on social media. “Airlines have become far more responsive to consumer complaints,” he says. “The last thing they want is you bashing them on Twitter for breaking your clubs.”

With tour pros being so anal about putting surfaces, why do they shake hands after the round while gathering around the cup? This drives me crazy.

Nothing to get too worked up about. Foot traffic on a green during final handshakes adds no more compaction than the entire field of players and their caddies over the previous hours. Greens for professional tournaments are so firm that it's nearly impossible to see even faint footprints in the surface.

It's true that a few pros still use metal spikes, but if the green is dry and firm—as it is for professional events—these spikes should not pull up any blades of grass. Even if they did, given the new rule that spike marks can be repaired, it seems the chance of harm to subsequent golfers is low.

At my club, we get only half strokes in skins games. Make a 4 on a handicap hole, and for skins it's a 3.5. I say this is unfair to higher-handicappers, who make fewer natural birds. How about you?

“I wouldn't compete against good players if I received only 50 percent because low-handicappers would have a large advantage,” says Dean Knuth, former senior director of the USGA's Handicap Department. Rather than simply halving strokes for skins purposes, how about using something less than full handicaps? “Try experimenting with it,” Knuth says. “I always found that 80 percent of course handicaps works best.”


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