Just a couple weeks remain until one of the biggest holidays for golfers.
I'm talking, of course, about Father's Day. Historically, dads and granddads have tended to be a lot of golfers' first teachers and first golfing buddies. It was the case with me - my dad put a club in my hand at age six, took me to Hop Meadow Country Club and I've been hooked ever since.
In turn, his own father was his introduction to the game, at Kass Inn, now known as Hanah Country Resort in the Catskills.
My dad spent a lot of time passing on a love of golf to me, so on Father's Day I like to give him a little something as a thank-you.
My go-to gift, though not overly creative, is a dozen golf balls. Not over-the-top by any means, but unquestionably useful. And, for that matter, with a bunch of up-and-coming, direct-to-consumer golf ball companies turning out solid product, you could even order Dad a double-dozen without breaking the bank. Companies like Snell, Vice Golf and OnCore all make golf balls that compare favorably to the Pro V1 and its ilk, but these balls will run you less than $35 a dozen, compared with $50 a dozen for the Titleists.
But it's understandable if you think golf balls are a bit predictable, so here are some other suggestions for Father's Day golf gifts.
- I know what you're thinking: What could be more pedestrian a golf gift than golf balls? How about socks - specifically those made by Kentwool? I swear by the Tour Profile socks, which are perfect with shorts, and keep my feet dry and not too hot on warm Florida days. At about $20 a pair, they're not cheap, but they're many times more durable than your usual $6-$8 socks, making them a great long-term investment. Dad would approve of that fiscal responsibility.
- Golf gloves are not exactly high above golf balls on the coolness scale of golf gifts, but if Dad uses one, he's probably in the market for one. If you want to step outside the mainstream golf companies for a comfortable Cabretta leather glove in a range of colors, the offerings from Zero Friction are well-reviewed and well-priced at about $20.
- Do you and Dad ever team up on the golf course? You could drop a not-so-subtle hint to encourage him to go practice by buying him a shag bag. Or, a ProActive Sports Shag Tube With Ball Release, which, at just under $13, is pretty reasonable, lightweight and holds 21 golf balls. Perfect for a short-game practice session.
- Traditionalists may bristle at the idea of listening to music on the course, but if Dad is a bit more laid-back, the Cambridge Soundworks OontZ Angle 3 Bluetooth Speaker produces good-quality sound with a long-lasting battery at a solid price - $24.99 on Amazon. It's compact triangular shape makes it a nice fit for golf cart cupholders, where it gets some room to reverberate without being too loud for the curmudgeons one fairway over.
- We've long since surpassed the flimsy plastic bottle or the faux-sporty Green Gatorade bottle as a golf course drink holder. A bunch of companies (too many, probably) now make high-quality metal drinking vessels that will keep Dad's water or sports drink cold and his coffee hot. YETI's Rambler coolers are the top-of-the-line models - the 30-ounce one is $34.99 and the 20-ounce version is $29.99; both fit perfectly in golf cart cupholders. I've seen other golfers with similar cups by RTIC and Ozark Mountain, among other brands, which run a bit cheaper.
- Dad can do better than the nearest outlet mall for golf shorts. Help him out with a pair or two of UnderArmour Match Play shorts, which can be had for as little as $35.99 a pair through Global Golf right now. The soft material and stretch makes these shorts so comfy that they feel almost like gym shorts. I've been wearing almost nothing but these on the course the last couple years.
- Looking good while playing golf is one thing, but looking good while watching golf is commendable as well. If Dad's been wearing out the same t-shirt since the last U.S. Open at Shinnecock, maybe he'll want one of the comfortable-cool selections from Linksoul, which offers a range of tee shirts - many with their "Make Par, Not War" slogan - for $35.
- We've entered something of a Golden Age of golf accessories in recent years. Premium golf goods companies like Seamus, Stitch and Links & Kings have been killing it of late, and they love to go beyond just headcovers, which can run from about $40 up toward $100, depending on materials. One other interesting shop, Sunfish Sales, offers considerable customization options, as well as some offbeat stock selections, like a Macho Man Randy Savage leather yardage book/scorecard holder ($54.99), perfect for the golf dad and WWE fan alike.
- Up until this year, I was not a fan of wearing sunglasses on the golf course. But at the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show, after hearing the pitch, I picked up a pair of UnderArmour sunglasses with the company's new "Tuned" lens type. This reddish-tinted lens purports to enhance the color contrast on the course and help with depth perception. What I've liked about my pair is that they don't seem to distort my field of vision at all, which makes me confident in keeping them on while reading putts and putting, which I never would have considered before. The Assist (Wayfareresque) and Propel (half-jacket) models are both available for $99.99. You may just end up getting a pair for Dad and one for yourself. (Note: UnderArmour makes a companion to the Tuned lens called "Tuned Recovery," which is meant to be worn off the golf course and help rest your eyes. You can keep this pair in your car and keep the regular Tuned pair in a case in your bag.)
- Has Dad been complaining about three-putts lately? The Cleveland Golf Huntington Beach series of putters is a solid and affordable flatstick option at $99.99. The 304 Stainless Steel and deep milling marks across the faces of these putters give them surprisingly soft feel. The Anser-shaped #1 model is the standard, but mallet shapes like the #5 and #6 have some appeal as well.
- If Dad's a bit of a fair-weather golfer due to a lack of up-to-date rain gear, the packable waterproof offerings from Zero Restriction might turn him into a mudder or get him ready for any Bandon, Ireland or Scotland trips. Their packable jackets are $175 and packable pants are $145, which is quite reasonable for waterproof golf gear.
- I have a bunch of great memories of teaming up with my dad in the Father & Son Team Classic in Myrtle Beach back in the late-90s and early-oughts; we even won the Net competition in our flight one year. The event was massive back then and though the recession brought attendance down for a while, the event is resurgent anew, scheduled to take place July 19-21. Entry is $995 per team and includes three tournament rounds as well as a swag bag valued at over $600. It's expected to draw more than 300 teams this year.
- There are a few things men get more particular about as they age. One is supremely comfortable footwear, and Dad would be highly appreciative of a gift that keeps his feet fresh, like a pair of new golf shoes. While the trend in golf shoes has been towards casual comfort, high performance shoes still feel quite good, too. The Adidas Tour 360 Boost 2.0 ($160-200) are built with premium leather for a blend of comfort and high performance with responsive cushioning, a supportive wrap fit and "Climaproof" technology that keeps feet dry in wet or dewey conditions.
- If you want to spoil Dad this Father's Day, it would be hard to top a custom-designed putter from any of a few artisans currently making names for themselves. One of these up-and-comers is Tyson Lamb a Texas-based putter maker whose stunning and functional works have been compared favorably to the early efforts of Scotty Cameron. For something more woodsy (literally - the putters are made out of stabilized wood), Bradley Putters, helmed by former nuclear engineer and Oregon native Bradley Converse, are so cool-looking, Dad might almost feel bad about gaming it (though Converse asserts that they roll the ball as well as or better than any metal putter). Bradleys run from $500 to more than $1,000, which is not quite as crazy as it sounds at first, considering their art value. For something a little more in the mainstream, the Callaway-owned Toulon putter brand recently started up its Toulon Garage program, where you can customize a Toulon putter by head type, shaft placement and bend and other features. Toulon Garage putters start at around $450.