Part of Bandon Dunes’ charm is its out-of-the-way location on the Oregon coast, but golf-trippers who flew there in the first years after the resort opened in 1999 often experienced an unpleasant truth: On the planes that connect from Denver or San Francisco to the tiny regional airport in North Bend, when luggage exceeds the weight limit, the first thing off the plane is almost always somebody’s golf bag.

As Bandon grew into a booming property with multiple world-class courses during the next decade, that “bag lag” became a serious customer-service issue, so the resort partnered with Ship Sticks, a start-up that promised to take the friction out of golf travel.

Co-founders Jonathan Marsico and Nick Coleman came up with the concept for Ship Sticks in 2010 after Coleman resorted to FedExing his clubs to Scottsdale for a golf trip to see Marsico so that he could avoid the hassle of hauling them on a plane. Breezing through the terminal was blissful, but the off-the-rack price to ship the clubs—more than $200 each way—was tough to reconcile.

“It’s a great experience to travel that way, but that’s not really a price point that will work for the masses,” Marsico says. “We thought there was an opportunity to create that convenience for the traveling golfer and do it in a way that was competitive to what the airlines were charging for a second or third bag.”

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The challenge was building relationships with shippers like FedEx, UPS and DHL to secure volume rates and build a customer-service platform so that players know their bags will be at the first tee. “We had to start building organically, talking to head pros and general managers at country clubs and resort properties to show them we could add value at no cost to them,” Marsico says.

For Bandon Dunes, it was a “show-me” deal that immediately paid off for both parties. “We started shipping a few dozen bags for their players, and it very quickly became hundreds per month,” Marsico says. “It really helped us with our brand recognition, and we started making headway with more of the well-known resorts and country clubs.”

Shipping prices start at $49 each way and increase depending on where you’re going and how quickly you need your clubs to get there. A quote from the New York area to Scottsdale using ground shipping—the least expensive option— delivers the clubs in a week and costs $99 round trip. Get a late invitation to play Whisper Rock Golf Club? Next-day service is $239 round trip. Those rates can be roughly half what it would cost to box up your bag and ship it yourself.

Setting up a pickup is as simple as punching in location and destination, getting a quote, printing a label and having your bags picked up at your door. Competitors like Lug Less have similar rates, but Ship Sticks’ relationships with marquee properties like Bandon, Streamsong, Pinehurst and the Troon network make it easy to fire and forget—play your round and leave your bag to be packed up and shipped home.

The shippers do the grunt work of moving bags, but Marsico’s team manages the customer-service experience end-to-end—bag-tracking and problem-solving for delays and scheduling changes and offering 24-hour live (and golf-knowledgeable) support. “Our internal teams monitor each trip so closely that in a lot of cases, we can upgrade a service right away,” Marsico says. “For example, if you ordered three-day service, but there’s a delay out of one of the hubs, we can switch to second-day or overnight and get the bag there on time.”

This year, Marsico says, the company will move more than 500,000 bags, ranging from singles to handling the equipment logistics for large international trips hosted by Carr Golf and Myrtle Beach Golf Authority.

With the infrastructure in place, expanding to related travel services was a no-brainer. Ship Skis and Ship Camps are two new siblings under the same roof, delivering ski gear to winter destinations and lightening the carload for summer campers’ parents. Now, if they could just do something about furniture delivery.

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