We worry about our precious clubs as much as anyone (all the more so after seeing the Lee Janzen’s clubs destroyed at the hands of Delta Airlines), so anything that can give us extra comfort that they will arrive safely when handing them over to the airlines is welcome to us. With that in mind, we decided to take the Club Glove Stiff Arm for a spin.
The Stiff Arm is designed to minimize vertical impact damage to your clubs, such as through dropping the bag clubhead-first into the ground from some height, as opposed to any horizontal blow, such as a truck driving over it. So place your bets as to how you think the airlines will take it to your clubs. Interestingly, the Stiff Arm is sold without a warranty, offered “AS-IS” (I’m having flashbacks to the back to purchase of my house), with the company noting that the Stiff Arm is “disposable”. Given that any damage to the Stiff Arm will weaken its protective properties, you should check the Stiff Arm after each use. Any damage? Out it goes…
The Club Glove Stiff Arm arrives in two pieces – the 3-piece telescoping arm, as well as a curved plastic disc approximately 5.5″ in diameter that easily screws onto the top of the arm. The lightweight aluminum arm extends up to 54″ in length, so can be used for any length clubs, and is adjustable through spring-loaded adjustment pins on the arm itself (much like an adjustable crutch), down to 1 ¼” increments (see image at right). Fully collapsed the arm is only 28″ in length. The total weight of the arm and plastic head is 1.3 pounds as tested, so it adds just a bit to your maximum 50 pound limit before the airlines start tacking on additional fees.
It was easy to extend and adjust to the right length the 3-pieces of the arm. All pieces extended smoothly, and the rounded pins that are used to adjust the length work well (see image at right). There is also a small ridge in each of the arms to indicate where the pins are, so you don’t spin and spin the arms trying in vain to find the adjustment pin. We haven’t had any issues with depressing the pins, or the pins extending through the adjustment holes when we adjust the length of the arms. At the base of the arm is a soft rubber foot cap, 1 3/8″ in diameter, likely designed so the arm won’t have a sharp base to cut through a travel bag when there is a hard impact.
Using the Stiff Arm is as easy as first adjusting the length so it is it is ½ “- 1 ½” longer than your longest club (to the impact is taken by the Stiff Arm), and then sliding it into your golf bag. On arrival or when storing, just slip the Stiff Arm slip back out of the bag, then depress the adjustable pins and collapse the arms. Given how quickly you can adjust the length, it makes it easy to store in hotel closets or in a folded golf travel bag. If you do need to unscrew the plastic protective disc on the arm, that can be easily done to store also.
If this level of protection isn’t enough for you when you travel, another option is a hard travel case, such as the Samsonite Hardside or SKB Deluxe (which will cover club damage up to $1,500!). Keep in mind that in most cases, airlines are not liable for damage to golf equipment that is not contained in a hard-sided case (read more about airline rules for traveling with golf clubs). Given that the Club Glove Stiff Arm is designed to absorb vertical blows only, those who are particularly concerned will want to give extra consideration to these hard cases. In general we don’t find them as easy to travel with as the best soft cases, but if you are looking for maximum protection, that is the route to take.
Looking at relative costs, $27 for the Club Glove Stiff Arm isn’t much to pay for some added security. As you know, United breaks guitars, so they might just break your clubs, too. While the Club Glove Still Arm doesn’t provide a warranty for either the Stiff Arm or your clubs, if the Stiff Arm protects your clubs even once from abuse by the airlines, you’ve covered the relatively small cost. We wouldn’t go so far as to say that it “eliminates nearly all risk of club breakage” as Club Glove markets, but it let’s us travel with a bit more peace of mind.