It's that time of year again, golfers.
Time to both get in the giving mood and also start dropping hints to your loved ones about gifts you'd like to receive this year.
But what do you want or need that you don't already have?
I've got a few recommendations at different price tiers, from stocking-stuffers to big-time bucket-list items:
3 ideal stocking-stuffer golf gifts under $25
I feel like a broken record making this recommendation, but here it comes again: good golf socks. Any avid golfer may be perplexed at first by the gift of socks, but if they're the right kind, like Kentwool, as soon as the recipient plays a couple rounds in them, any initial perceptions of inconsiderate gift-giving will melt away. At $19.95 a pair, Kentwool's classic ankle socks are actually a great value, because they hold up after even dozens of washings. I know this because I have been abusing several pairs for about four years now and they still feel and function beautifully. Surino ($20) is another option along similar lines.
Want to add a splash of color to a golf bag? Take a look at the Ultimate Microfiber towels from Devant Sports ($24.95). I'm partial to the Tie Dye pattern myself.
One more good stocking stuffer gift is a glove. The same old brands and styles have been available in pro shops for years. But upstart company Asher Golf is making durable gloves in some eye-popping styles. You can select from such styles as midnight camo, or, if they're an NBA fan, get them their favorite team's logo ($24.99). More traditional colors as well as a $12 standard model are available as well, but what's the fun in that? AsherGolf.com.
3 more holiday golf gifts under $50
If you tend to gag on short putts (we've all been there), PuttOut's Pressure Putt Trainer ($29.99) is a neat analog golf toy/aid that works on any carpet. Its slight incline and target will only hold a golf ball that approaches on the right line and at the perfect pace. It can be addicting, which means it might be a perfect holiday . get-together activity for you and your buddies.
On the strength of their innovative wine-cooling system, Corkcicle is entrenched in the competitive canteen/tumbler game, and their products are functional and tend to be a bit more colorful than their competitors'. Their Hybrid Canteen ($39.95) is a slender, sturdy glass bottle partially wrapped with insulated stainless steel, meaning it will keep liquids cool or hot for longer. It also fits nicely in your golf bag's water bottle pocket.
Fancy headcovers have exploded as a niche industry within golf, with makers like Stitch and Seamus gaining wide popularity and garnering top dollar for their wares. Like Seamus, Reinland Golf Co. is based in Portland, Ore., and offers its own attractively patterned wool headcovers at lower prices, like this 'Aztec one' ($49.95).
Check out these holiday golf gifts up to $100
Nice-quality examples of the golf apparel basics sit in this price range, perfect for someone who finally appreciates the easily-identifiable shape of a gift-wrapped shirt box. Golf shirts are available in more styles, colors and patterns than ever before, giving you lots of options to either fit someone's style or maybe prod them in a new direction. One of the most comfortable golf shirts in my closet right now is by Tasc Performance, which uses bamboo fiber in their textiles. Their 43% bamboo viscose Air Stretch polo ($72) looks nice, launders well and functions like an all-cotton shirt with some extra swing-accommodating stretch, thanks to a bit of Lycra spandex in the mix.
Led by golf apparel titan John Ashworth, Linksoul continues to spread the gospel of California casual style to all corners of the golf realm. Their Boardwalker Short is one of the best golf garments to come along in recent years, managing to look presentable on any course while also feeling like loungewear. They may be a bit more expensive ($76) than outlet and department store shorts, but they feel, look and launder better.
There are a lot of golf training aids out there, but few of them are truly intuitive. That's why I'm high on the FlexPutter, which our friends at Revolution Golf are selling over the holidays for $99. It's deceptively simple: a standard-looking putter, but with a super-whippy shaft. What that flexibility does is train golfers to make a smooth putting stroke with a sensible transition from backswing to downswing. If you force or jerk the grip, you'll feel it in the putter head and, when hitting actual putts with it, the ball will careen offline. Instant feedback and lack of confusing setup make it a winner in my opinion.
Great value on holiday golf gifts up to $250
Whether you’re gifting for your girlfriend or you’re a female treating yourself this holiday season, Shop With Golf Managing Editor Bailey Mosier is high on Foray, which sets the tone for fashionable golf attire. Says Bailey:
"This faux leather skirt (it’s actually 100% polyester) will give any female golfer a certain edge over her competition. It’s funky and fabulous, and will be a welcomed addition to any woman’s wardrobe. Pair it with a super comfy and transitional quarter zip and the lucky recipient of this outfit will be ready to tackle whatever the day throws her way – on or off the course ($160)."
For a women's top, check out Foray's Core 2.0 Half Zip Layering. an ultra-soft brush jersey ideal for the cool season. ($120)
Wearable GPS technology has made significant inroads in golf of late (including the Apple Watch), and the company IZZO has several products built to convey important yardage information quickly and accurately. Their new Swami GPS Watch is no exception, offering distance information for some 38,000 golf courses. You won't just get front-middle-back green yardages here; the watch takes things even further by adding distances to and over hazards, as well as bend points on dogleg holes. That makes it a steal at $117 (down from $140) over on Revolution Golf.
There's been a dizzying amount of recent new tech in most golf equipment sectors, except in wedges. But Cleveland - whose classic-looking, attractive wedges I've used for the better part of a decade - is now on their second iteration of their CBX wedges ($140), which are cavity-backed for a bit extra forgiveness. Their reasoning is that since the vast majority of golfers use some sort of cavity-back iron, why not integrate that sort of perimeter weighting into wedges as well? Makes sense to me.
While touring pros almost never practice without a $20,000 TrackMan or GC ForeSight Quad nearby, that's just not realistic for most golfers. Thankfully, several companies have rolled out consumer-priced devices that provide the basic information that the big-ticket ones break out with a level of detail that is useful to the pros but more complex than recreational golfers need or want. One of these is the PRGR Black pocket launch monitor, which our friends at Revolution Golf are selling during the holidays for $187, or about $60 off its normal retail price. This device measures swing speed, ball speed, smash factor and carry distance within a simple interface. I find the smash factor figure particularly useful because it's a measure of quality of contact. It will tell you how pure you're striking the ball, or how much room for improvement you have.
Is 2020 the year you become a push cart guy (or gal)? Several brands are competing for your business. I personally still like to carry, but colleagues of mine have enjoyed BagBoy's line of pull and push carts, including their popular Quad XL ($220) model, with four wheels, compartments for an umbrella, mobile devices and more.
Splurge on these golf gifts above $250
There's been a bit of a rush in the golf industry of late to try and market products to the biggest spenders. Even though these golfers are a tiny percentage of the population, the mere idea of putting together a deep-pocketed clientele is seductive, and has driven considerable innovation at the top of the market. If you want to splurge, there have never been more options.
Golf fashion seems to be taking more cues from the wider culture than ever, which makes the likes of FootJoy seem almost retro-cool, rather than small-c conservative. Whatever the case may be, they still make great golf shoes, and their ICON Black series ($300) remains one of the most traditional modelsgolf shoe models on the market. If you or your favorite golfer have some tournament golf or bucket-list trips lined up for 2020, these are great special-occasion shoes that are still built to last.
Speaking of trips, Golf Advisor's own travel department got up and running this year and has helped many golfers - solo, couples and groups - arrange a trip or two. You may have seen our hosted Getaways, and we also offer an ever-expanding menu of golf packages you can book on your own, backed by a concierge-type reservations and support team. We just added this Pebble Beach package (from $1,037 per person, per night), if you're looking for that bucket-list escape. Or, perhaps something like this 3-day Gulf Shores, Alabama package (from $157 per person, per night) is more your speed.
On the equipment side, PXG has established itself as the sparers of no expense when it comes to golf clubs, and their new Super Tour irons, at $650 per iron or $4,550 for a set, certainly would make a statement as a holiday gift.