By Matt Hombach
It's definitely that time of year again. The non-golfers among us have quickly wrapped up their holiday shopping for their non-golfing family and friends. What remains is a most daunting task -- getting a great holiday gift for the golfers on their list when they know next to nothing about the game we love.
In their heart of hearts they know that a goofy golf coffee mug or lame argyle golf sweater just won't cut it. Some of these non-golfers, however, are brave enough to set out blindly for the local golf shop to purchase a piece of golf equipment to place under the tree. While the gift is usually well intentioned, the balls they get us are normally not the brand we like, or we wind up with a nifty new putter that isn't needed (we wouldn't think of trading in that trusty copper Ping we've used forever).
Can't Miss with Gift Cards
The safest, most surefire gift to give a golfer is a gift card to the course he or she plays most often, or to a retailer like Mammoth Golf or Dick's Sporting Goods.
Golfers across the board will appreciate a gift card to a course they frequent or even a course they have been eager to try. Golfers can redeem the card to pay for greens fees or merchandise at the course. In many cases, you can take care of gift card shopping online.
Take note that most gift cards are not applicable for golf lessons, which also make a great gift. Call a golf professional directly to purchase a gift certificate for a lesson or series of lessons. Just be sure the pro you are dealing with is a certified PGA professional.
A Useful Techno-Gadget
For the tech-savvy duffer on your list, there is a relatively new gadget on the market that would make the perfect gift.
The SkyCaddie, from a company named SkyGolf, is a hand-held unit about the size of a cell phone that gives golfers precise yardages to the green from anywhere on the course. The LCD screen also gives yardages and targets for lay-up shots and points out hazards. SkyGolf has access to course maps and precise yardages for thousands of courses throughout the country (dozens in the Baltimore area) for SkyCaddie owners to download. The units retail anywhere from $230 up to $400 and can be ordered online (www.SkyGolfGPS.com).
BaltimoreGolfing.com has teamed up with SkyCaddie to offer another online shopping option for those hunting for golf gifts. The SkyGolf gift pack includes a SkyCaddie SG4 unit, a round of golf at one of the six courses, an Advantage Card and downloadable course information.
Upgrade to the Golf Channel
Another outstanding gift the golf nut will appreciate all year long is an upgrade in their cable service to include the Golf Channel, which has stepped things up significantly for 2007 with a new partnership with the PGA Tour.
In the past, the first two rounds of most tournaments were broadcast on a variety of networks carried on basic cable. This coming year, nearly all Thursday and Friday rounds of PGA tour events will be carried exclusively on the Golf Channel. While this may seem trivial to the non-golfer, it's a major change for golf fans.
Back to Basics
If you want to stay a little more low-tech with your gift, there's nothing a golfer likes more than a dozen new golf balls. The brand and model of the ball is very important, as most golfers play the same type of ball all the time.
If you're buying the balls for your spouse or a family member, sneak a peek in their bag and see what kind they're playing. If you're not all that stealthy, you can always come right out and ask what ball they prefer. It may ruin the surprise, but at least you'll be sure to get it right.
While the days of ugly plaids and Sansabelts are gone (I think), too many fellow golfers trudge across the links in an old pair of blue jeans or cargo pants. A nice pair of khaki golf pants makes a terrific gift and will keep the golfer in your life looking like a pro, even if he or she doesn't play like one.
Issue 1.34: December 14, 2006