For anyone unfamiliar with the game, buying a gift for a golfer can be a stressful and intimidating ordeal — so much so that many people won’t bother, reasoning that the links-obsessed loved one in question can just get what they want themselves.
Sound logic, that. A Golf Town gift card always works for me.
But here’s the thing: it’s not that tough. With just a little advice, it’s easy to ace buying a golf gift, even if you don’t know a fairway from a Ferrari. So if you’re under the gun with just days to go until Christmas, keep reading. We’ll get through this together.
Clubs and balls
Default position: don’t bother, especially if your player is an experienced one. There’s a dizzying array of options available out there, and few golf components are as personal and player-particular as golf balls and the clubs they use to hit them.
That said, if you’re bound and determined to give a driver, a wedge, a putter or a complete set, contact his or her club pro shop or the nearest Golf Town, GolfTec or boutique outfit and tell them you want to give a custom fitting for Christmas. www.golftown.com, www.golftec.com
Golf balls are a little easier, if you follow a simple rule: the better the player, the more expensive the ball. Top-tier spheres like Titleist’s Pro V1, TaylorMade TP5 or Callaway Chrome Soft are always a safe bet — even the pickiest golfer will tee up any of them. Cheaper, lower-tier balls that offer low spin and put a premium on distance are for higher handicappers.
Sneak a peek at your beneficiary’s golf bag. What do you see? Ratty, dirty headcovers or anything resembling Garfield, a beer can or a “Family Guy” character? A sleek leather replacement from Dormie Workshop would fit the bill — just make sure you know which club you’re looking to protect (driver, fairway wood or hybrid). Halifax-based Dormie also makes customized yardage book covers, valuables pouches and alignment stick covers to trick out that pair of plastic rods you might see jutting out the top of the bag. www.dormieworkshop.com
Game and swing trackers
If your golfer is the analytical, DIY student-of-the-game type and keeps one eye on a smartphone all the time, consider putting one of the hottest game-improvement gadgets on the market under the tree. Here’s three to take a close look at.
For the golfer who wants to keep hands-free tabs on scores, statistics like greens in regulation, average driving distance and miss percentages, the second-generation Arccos 360 system is a can’t-miss winner. Low-profile sensors attach to each club and sync with a smartphone, tracking each stroke and mapping them on an overhead, Google Maps-style view of the course. For an extra $63 a year, the Arccos Caddie feature uses all that data to recommend the best club selections and strategies on the fly, even when playing a course for the first time. www.arccos.com
For someone who’s constantly looking to improve their putting, the Blast Motion system offers the best combination of value and sophistication. While it can assess full-swing shots, it really shines on the practice green, tracking stroke speed, face rotation, lie angle and myriad other data points, matching it all up with video for a detailed, real-time lesson. www.blastmotion.com
And for a range rat with a social side, the latest generation of Zepp swing sensor offers a 3D simulation that tracks swing path, clubhead speed and hip turn, all from your smartphone. A new on-course mode lets players use Zepp while playing, for an enlightening look at how one’s swing changes from the practice tee to the first tee. www.zeppgolf.com.
More golf shirts? Really?
Yes, really. We never have enough. Look at it this way: It’s a safe bet that no matter their age or gender, your golfer has left the house at some point looking like something out of “Caddyshack.” Here’s your chance to exact some of your own sartorial influence. U.S. manufacturer Antigua offers a wide array of men’s and women’s golf attire, including authentic Solheim Cup gear, that boasts high-tech, moisture-wicking Desert Dry Xtra Lite fabric — the go-to material of choice for golf garb these days, and the perfect replacement for that pit-stained, puce-yellow polo in Dad’s closet. www.antiguashop.com
You probably already know golfers are, by and large, a few balls shy of a full bucket when it comes to the game. But that doesn’t mean we don’t love stocking stuffers — and stuffing our faces. Here’s a couple of golf-specific goodies perfect for sticking in that sock.
Beef jerky is big in pro golf these days, for a bunch of reasons: it keeps well, it’s low-carb and low-mess, and easy to gnaw on between shots. It’s even better when it tastes good, not like a hunk of road tar. Enter Chef’s Cut Real Jerky, which is not only delicious, it’s got golf in its DNA: Chef’s Cut was co-founded by former pro Dennis Riedel and graces the pro-shop shelves at iconic courses like Pebble Beach and Pinehurst. www.chefscutrealjerky.com
Hydration is important, too. Consider the way PGA Tour superstar Jason Day does it — with a tasty packet of SwingOil, a “dietary supplement for golf” loaded with stuff like swing-easy glucosamine and chondroitin, inflammation-fighting turmeric and taurine for energy.
SwingOil comes in three flavours: lemon-lime, orange and strawberry-banana. Toss the single-serving pouches in the freezer overnight and they’ll be nice and slushy by the 10th tee. www.swingoil.com
James McCarten, The Canadian Press