What should you get the golfer on your holiday list? Or, if you're a golfer, what should you ask for? Most people think this is obvious, but I can't tell you how many times over the years somebody has given me a dozenTop-Flite XLs or the like or a cheap cotton golf shirt that I just couldn't wear in the Texas heat and humidity. And when it comes to golf clubs, unless the golfer in your life has specific request, buying clubs or even shoes is a pretty tough match. Golfers are pretty particular about that stuff, or at least they should be.
So there you have it; golfers are hard to please.
Well, not really. Here are some suggestions that have caught my eye over 2017:
Some new golf books to consider
Believe it or not, books might be making a comeback (not that they ever went away). They're also a great gift idea for the avid golfer on your list, and there are several that I've checked out recently that I would recommend.
The first is "Arnold Palmer: An American Icon," by David Fisher and David Aretha. This 2017 book relives Palmer's legendary life and championships and how Palmer brought golf into a new era. It's full of photographs from Palmer's childhood and college years and of course his playing career. Here you get a real feel for what made the King tick, how he loved the applause and was motivated by fame and his fans, but was actually very humble, especially when it came to his charitable affairs. ($17 on Amazon.com)
Another icon worth reading about is the late great teacher Harvey Penick, and author Kevin Robbins, a former golf writer for the Austin American-Statesman and professor at the University of Texas, has written the first biography of Penick. The book is titled, "Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf." That book he's referring to in the title is, of course, the famed "Little Red Book," which contains a lifetime of golf wisdom from Penick's own personal little red notebook that author Bud Shrake helped bring to the public. In this biography we find out that Penick, who mentored Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite, just to name a couple, also once caddied for U.S. Open winner Francis Ouimet and played with Ben Hogan and other legends. ($12.50 hardback and $18 paperback on Amazon)
Remember the first golf-loving Bush in the White House? President George H.W. Bush loved to play golf of course, and Ken Raynor played plenty of rounds or with him. Raynor, for 38 years the head professional at Cape Arundel Golf Club in Kennebunkport, Maine (with author Michael Patrick Shiels), shares his personal stories of playing golf with our 41st president as well as all the time they spend fishing together. In the book, Raynor reflects on the life lessons he gained from a friendship born outdoors that developed over decades during golf outings from Maine to August National, international fishing trips, retreats at Camp David and even flying on Marine One. ($25 on Amazon)
And finally, if the golfer in your life needs a little more balance in his or her life on and off the golf course, I'd recommend Dr. Deepak Chopra's "Golf for Enlightenment – The Seven Lessons for the Game of Life." Honestly, I'd recommend this more for off the course, but they can go hand-in-hand, right? Serenity is always a good thing, and Chopra will have you focusing on the joy of the present and your surroundings rather than the result. It's even endorsed by Michael Murphy, author of "Golf in the Kingdom." ($13 on Amazon)
Get a Mystery gift
That's right. Why not surprise yourself and the person on your list with the Mystery Gift from BirdieBox.com? This company does a whale of a job putting together gift packages for corporate tournaments and individuals, and is featuring the mystery gift that includes at least one apparel item for $50. There are other options, too at birdiebox.com, but this is intriguing. There are mystery gifts for men or women.
Portable Bluetooth speaker
If the golfer on your list isn't a staunch traditionalists and has a smart phone, small Bluetooth speakers that allow tunes on the course is a can't-miss gift. More and more players are taking their music with them and these speakers are not only more affordable, but sound great for their size. Ideally, you want to find one that can fit in a cup holder. I've tried out a number of these over the years, but most recently put the BEM Wireless Mojo Speaker into play. It comes with a recharging base, and you can buy an extra speaker to broadcast in stereo (one for each cup holder) if you like, but it's really not needed. And these babies will crank with plenty of bass, just be mindful of your surroundings.
How about a quality T-shirt?
Back to golf shirts for a moment: As long as you're sticking with quality, they're not necessarily a bad choice, but I like some things that aren't necessarily expected. One of the bigger sellers, it seems, in golf shops lately, are golf T-shirts. Last year, I bought or received a number of them throughout the world, including one from Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland, home of the first Open Championship. I wear that one all the time. If you're like me, you get sick of wearing golf shirts all the time. One choice to check out is a Minnesota company called Swannies, which makes jackets and polos, but I like their T-shirts. It's a fun brand that features a club-twirl logo on its graphic tees that golfers can wear anywhere casual. (swannies.co)
Practice and warm-up aids
If you have a golfer on your list who likes to hit the range, there are number of products that might fit the bill. The Orange Whip, which has a weighted orange ball on the end of flexible shaft, is still popular and is the perfect warm-up tool before the range or the first tee. It's also a training aid. I carry mine with me on all trips where I'm not walking. Since I don't like to hit balls before I play, it really helps me out on the first tee before that first drive.
One new product that caught my attention this year is something called the HackersRX, which is basic setup tool designed to also help with ball position and alignment. At $40 (hackersrx.com)the "T" shaped aid is pretty affordable and useful since golfers in general don't pay nearly enough attention to this aspect of the game. It also weighs less than a sleeve of balls and collapses to fit in the side pocket of your golf bag.
Give them the belt
Belts also make a great gift, and golfers can never have enough of them.
For the past few years, Nexbelt has taken the golf industry by storm with its "belt with no holes" and inventive and wide variety of buckles. Ever adjustable, they come in every imaginable color and buckle combination. (nexbelt.com)
Another product I really love is Beltology. Like Nexbelt, these are belts without holes. Unlike Nexbelt, Beltology products don't work on a ratchet system, but rather use an interwoven light fiber in the belt material that stretches, meaning the adjustments are seemingly infinite. Plus, these well-made high-quality belts are light, which makes them super comfortable on the course.