STICKS & STONES
'Tis the (off) season
for gifts for the golfer
By Kiel Christianson,
AMHERST, Mass. (Nov. 24, 2003) - As we get closer to golf's "Silly Season," filled with made-for-TV events wedged between football games, we also find ourselves ever nearer to the silly season for golf equipment as well: winter. For a sizable (but steadily shrinking) number of North American golfers, this is not a great time of year to buy equipment, unless you have an indoor test facility available.
Problem is, the off-season also contains the gift-giving season. There's probably not a golfer alive who has not received more than enough of the golfer's version of the ugly tie: personalized tees, exploding golf balls, crappy putters, worthless practice aids, and hats/shirts/boxer shorts that say, "I'd rather be golfing."
Well buck up. Whether you're a golfer or just shopping for one, I've put together a list of hand-picked items that span tastes, prices, genders, and ages.
The literary golfer cannot help but be intrigued by the offerings of The Clocktower Press" (clocktowerpress.com). One of the newest golf titles from this Michigan publishing house is Gene Sarazan and Shell's Wonderful World of Golf ($26.95), a behind the scenes look at the pioneering made-for-TV golf show. For younger golfers, try Caddywhack: A Kid's Eye View of Golf ($13.45), by Bill Murray's 13-year old nephew Drew.
For golf course architecture buffs, Dr. Michael Hurdzan and partner Dana Fry have compiled a massive compendium of the best of their course design work. Selected Golf Courses by Hurdzan/Fry: Photos and Essays Vol 1 ($80) is available at (hurdzanfry.com), and features a foreward by Tom Lehman, copious photos, full-color renderings, and thoughtful essays on 29 prominent Hurdzan/Fry designs by Hurdzan and Fry themselves.
A great way to keep your own golf memories and memorabilia organized is the Scorecard Caddie (scorecardcaddie.com) ($24.95). This handsome, faux leather volume comes with enough room to hold 220 scorecards of various dimensions, and can be personalized or logo-ized for an added cost. If you' ve been meaning to do something with all those scorecards cluttering up your underwear drawer, this is it!
If you happen to live in an area where golf might be an option during the winter, but you hate to battle the cold, Gerbing's Heated Clothing (heatedgolf.com) has a snazzy line of heated accessories to keep the chill at bay. The Heated Handwarmer ($199) comes with a rechargeable battery pack that'll hold a charge for five hours. The best part is you can spin it around behind your back when you swing, so it won't be in the way (and it also makes you feel a bit like a pro football QB). The same company's Heated Golf Cart Seat Cover ($129) will warm the cockles of the putter-n-putt set, too.
A rather unique - and surprisingly effective - stocking-stuffer is the Brush T (golfbrusht.com). The Brush T comes in three sizes (3-wood, driver, and oversized), and provides a bristly perch for your golf ball. The benefits are consistent ball height, less deflection, and long-lasting construction (as long as you don't hit any part of the tee other than the bristles). For $19.95, you get nine tees of one or more sizes (you mix and match), which should last the majority of the golf season. We took a few of these out to the range and absolutely loved the way they stayed planted (and stayed in one piece), unlike wooden tees.
The single piece of equipment that is possible to buy for golfers is the golf bag, assuming you know the style and preferences of the golfer. If the person on your list is the hip, Charles Howell III type, check out the eye-catching, rugged-as-a-Hummer-yet-light-as-air line of bags by Ogio (ogio.com). Ogio's new features for 2004 include a rail system that allows cartbags to deploy at 45-degrees from the back of the cart for easier access. My new personal favorite bag is the Ogio Exo (approx. $170), featuring a sturdy exo-skeleton that makes room for a cavernous interior. For those short overnight golf jaunts, check out the Ogio All Terrain Bag (approx. $50), with its integrated but separate shoe pocket and drop-in personal CD-player pocket complete with earphone cord hole.
If your golfer is more the Thurston Howell III type, the new Classic line of golf bags by Sun Mountain (sunmountain.com) ($205-$420) features canvas and leather carry and stand bags complete with real wood legs that hearken back to the Golden Age of the game.
For the ladies
In conjunction with the 2004 U.S. Women's Open to be held at The Orchards in South Hadley, Mass., the USGA made an unprecedented move by opening the U.S. Women's Open Public Shop in South Hadley. The shop is chock full of swanky golf apparel (for women and men) and accessories. The shop and Yankee Candle Company have joined forces to offer a special 2004 U.S. Women's Open Holiday Package, which includes two ticket vouchers redeemable for daily tickets for any day(s) during championship week, an official 2004 U.S. Women's Open souvenir golf cap, a voucher for one championship program, and a 14.5 oz Yankee Candle Housewarmer candle. The package (as well as other U.S. Women's Open gear and tickets, including additional holiday gift packages) can be found at the shop, online (2004uswomensopen.com), at the Yankee Candle Flagship Store in S. Deerfield, Mass., or by calling (800) 513-OPEN or (413) 538-8147.
For the lads and lassies
U.S. Kids Golf, the world's largest manufacturer of junior equipment, is introducing a new line of oilcan wedges ($34.99 each) for 2004, as well as a new 550 Mallet-style putter, which has a double-bent stainless steel shaft and an insert with the USKG logo ($29.99). U.S. Kids' red, blue, green, and gold color-coded lines make it easy to find clubs that are the right weight and length for the little golfers on your gift list (uskidsgolf.com).
For, um, I dunno, Tiger maybe?
And finally, the ultimate golf gift from Golfsmith (golfsmith.com): A framed display featuring the photos and autographs of every single Master's Champion in the 67-year history of the tournament. The 67 champions surround a photo and signature of Bobby Jones, as well as an original copy of the program from the first Master's Championship in 1934. This amazing golf-collector's fantasy gift retails for a mere $50,000. You'll need to hurry though, as there are only two in existence.
Santa, I know I have cursed a lot while golfing this year (damn hook-oops, sorry!), but please.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.