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Bag Boy's two THC-3 models break down into separate pieces for easy stowing.
Bag Boy's two THC-3 models break down into separate pieces for easy stowing. (Courtesy)

Bag Boy THC-3: A good hard-case travel bag for a nice soft price

Tim McDonaldBy Tim McDonald,

When the Bag Boy golf travel bag arrived in the mail my wife asked me why I'd ordered a garbage can.

That's what it looks like. A garbage can. But I happen to be a fan of the prosaic, the practical, the form-follows-function, so I wasn't put off.

There are essentially two kinds of golf bags for the traveling golfer, and the choice comes down to personal preference: soft for golfers who want to stow their bags after arriving at their destination, hard for those who want maximum protection.

Some soft bags supposedly have extra protection for the clubheads, but many golfers are understandably paranoid about gorilla baggage handlers. There are also hybrids.

I travel far and wide, and I've tried several soft cases that worked reasonably well. But with a rough overseas trip looming, I opted for a hard case - there'd be a lot of tough travel and jostling this time, and I wanted to make sure my clubs came home with me, intact.

One of the drawbacks of hard travel bags is that they tend to be more expensive. Enter the Bag Boy THC-3. It's one of those hard cases you can buy without feeling like you're buying a new set of high-end clubs.

Bag Boy offers two hard cases in the THC-3 series, one for bags up to 10 inches and one up to 11 and a half. They retail in the $100-$150 range, which puts it at the lower end of the price scale.

The beauty of the THC-3 is that it breaks down into three pieces - you don't have to rent an SUV or small moving van to stow it after you've unpacked your clubs. The separate sections neatly nest into what is basically one piece that can be fitted into fairly tight spaces.

I discovered another use, as I'm sure other traveling golfers who've used the Bag Boy did before me: Any of the sections makes a good dirty-laundry carrier.

I liked the molded handle for the times I had to yank it up staircases, and I never had to worry about breaking straps or other, lesser handles. The in-line-skate wheels worked reasonably well on smooth surfaces.

While the THC-3 is appropriately considered a hard case - it's made of molded plastic - it isn't as stiff as some other hard cases on the market. Still, it was hard enough to protect my clubs, and the padded interior top safeguards clubheads, the parts that usually break first.

The only aspect of the Bag Boy I had a problem with was the four "high-strength" combination locks. This is what holds the bag together when you fit it all into one piece, and it seemed to me like the manufacturers may have cut some corners here to keep the price down.

The locks were a bit flimsy for my liking, and after some use I had a relatively difficult time getting them to snap shut. Some of them kept popping open. They never broke, but they felt like they were on the verge of it. Still, after some heavy use traipsing around Ireland and Scotland, they were still working.

All in all, I would recommend the THC-3, if you're looking for both a hard case and a hard bargain.

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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