Airline apologizes after college golf team’s viral golf bag video

an airport worker tosses a golf bag on the ground

A viral video of the East Tennessee State golf team's bags has prompted an airline apology.

East Tennessee State Golf Team | Twitter

Every golf traveler knows the unique torture of handing their clubs off at the airport.

Most of the time, it’s not an issue. The clubs are left in the trusted hands of the airline, which transports them onto and off the plane without issue. Within a few minutes of landing at your destination, your clubs are brought out, unaltered, to the oversized luggage area. Success!

But every so often, something goes wrong. Perhaps, as has happened to many a golfer traveling overseas in the last several summers, the clubs are lost somewhere in transit. Perhaps the airline never gets them onto the plane in the first place. Or perhaps, worst of all, the clubs are damaged en route to their final destination.

That last reason is what has Delta Airlines apologizing on Thursday, two days after a college golf team’s video showing clubs being mishandled by airport workers in San Diego went viral on the eve of the NCAA Championship.

The story begins late on Tuesday evening, the same day the ETSU golf team arrived in San Diego on a Delta Airlines flight for the NCAAs. As the team was getting ready to deboard the plane, one teammate poked his head out the window to see a baggage worker at the airport taking the team’s golf bags off of the aircraft. But there was a problem with the way the baggage workers were handling — or mishandling — the cargo. The two men responsible for unloading the clubs were tossing the bags straight onto the tarmac with reckless abandon, risking damage to the team’s precious cargo on the eve of the biggest week of the year.

A few seconds later, the ETSU Men’s Golf official account tweeted a video of the baggage behavior, which quickly went viral.

“Nice of @Delta to handle our clubs with such care,” the account posted.

The post quickly made the rounds on social media, where golfers the world over frustrated with lost and damaged golf bags chimed in with their own two cents. The Twitter blowback grew so bad that Delta’s PR team released a statement on Thursday morning apologizing for the mishap.

“We apologize to the ETSU Golf team and ask for a mulligan on how their equipment was handled,” the statement read. “We’re in direct contact with the Bucs to ensure they have what they need to successfully compete in the NCAAs.”

The good news, at least, is that it appears no players will be left in the lurch as a result of the mishap. Play begins for the ETSU golf team on Friday morning in Carlsbad.

James Colgan Editor

James Colgan is a news and features editor at GOLF, writing stories for the website and magazine. He manages the Hot Mic, GOLF’s media vertical, and utilizes his on-camera experience across the brand’s platforms. Prior to joining GOLF, James graduated from Syracuse University, during which time he was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at