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Santa Claus brings Christmas cheer - and (too often) a host of ghastly golf gifts

Clive AgranBy Clive Agran,
Christmas gifts
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Let's face it - most "golf gifts" at Christmas are as appealing as a reindeer turd. (Brandon Tucker/WorldGolf.com.)

December can be rather depressing for golfers. And not just because of the traditional winter nightmare: temporary greens.

No, what unnerves me as the nights get shorter and the fairways softer is not green and flat but red and round. Tee mats and preferred lies are welcome compared with the false laugh, overbearing joviality and excessive girth that are the hallmarks of this unwelcome seasonal visitor.

It's not so much jolly old St. Nick himself that gives me the headache as the baggage he literally carries with him. It's all those carefully wrapped parcels stuffed in his sack that really annoy me - those so-called presents bearing my name he insists on dropping down the chimney.

In the golden days of my youth, Christmas was an exciting time, not least because of the games, toys and other welcome gifts that came my way. But as my hair has grown thinner, so has the appeal of this annual festival of unwanted golf gifts.

Call me Scrooge if you like, but I'm thoroughly fed up with trying to look thrilled at what is so evidently disappointing. It's like trying to smile after fluffing a succession of bunker shots; it's possible, but rarely convincing.

At least with bunkers you eventually get out. With Christmas there's no escape.

I've nothing against holly, carol singers or even distant relatives dropping by when all you want to do is fall asleep in front of the television. What really depresses me, even more than three-putting from five feet, is the ghastly succession of golf accessories that gather around my feet.

Each parcel opened reveals yet another appalling gewgaw gummed together in some Far East sweatshop. What the oppressed Asian workers make of it all is hard to say.

In fact, it's hard to say anything sensible when confronted with another pocket-sized shot counter. Surely you have at least one. You know the thing: Just push a button each time you hit the ball and hey, presto, before you can say "What the hell do I need this for?" it gives you your running total. Handy or what?

"Gosh, that's brilliant," you lie. "Now I'll know exactly how many shots I've taken at any stage in the round. Wow, that's really useful."

There's a spectacular array of garbage that non-golfers think golfers will love. Gizmos that warm your balls. Gadgets guaranteed to shave 10 shots from your score. Infrared lights to hang on your putter, magnets to hang round your neck and a bewildering range of teaching aids that promise you'll hit the ball further, straighter, etc.

They will all gather dust in your cupboard until an 18-handicapper lifts the claret jug and Augusta National only admits women.

Undoubtedly the ghastliest gift I received last year was a set of novelty tee pegs, an assortment of tiny plastic women in a range of lewd poses. Gosh, how I didn't laugh when they fell onto my lap. Good old Uncle George really knows a thing or two about sophisticated humor.

"And you rest your balls on top," he explained to general guffaws.

But the most unwelcome golf gift ever comes down to a playoff between a set of animal-head covers and a 7-iron. The former merely betrayed an appalling lack of taste; the thought process behind the latter is hard to fathom. My heart sank like a drained putt when I spotted the telltale long, thin parcel beneath the tree.

"Golly, it's a 7-iron. That'll come in really useful if my present seven iron ever wears out," I said, with only the merest whiff of irony.

The problem is, once you take up golf everyone assumes you have no other interests. You're simply categorized as an obsessive who loves golf and everything connected with it.

So, for example, even though you hate ginger chocolates, a box containing a disgusting assortment of them becomes an appropriate present if the lid features a pair of 19th-century golfers, watched by a dog and a cheeky urchin carrying a bag of hickory-shafted sticks.

Try and look on the bright side. At least you won't be short of booby prizes come your society's spring meeting. Happy Christmas!

Although in his 60s, with a handicap of 15 and lifetime earnings comfortably below $100, Clive Agran nevertheless still believes he can win a major. Arguably England's most gifted golf writer, when not dreaming of glory he's scouring the globe simultaneously searching for lost balls and great golf courses. Follow Clive on Twitter at @cliveagran.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

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