Golf Gifts: From Socks to Simulators

What do you get the golfer who has everything? Something non-golf-related, of course.

Since no actual golfer (except maybe Donald Trump) has literally everything, we’ve prepared a list of holiday gift ideas suitable for just about anyone who plays the game. Our picks cover the budgetary spectrum, from affordable stocking stuffers all the way to “in their dreams.”

Straight from St. Andrews Claus himself, our picks for 2011’s best golf gifts:

BIG-TICKET ITEMS

Miura Forged Black Blades

Miura Limited Forged Black Blades

Golf vacation of a lifetime: We won’t tell you where to send your favorite golfer; suffice it to say, Scotland, Ireland and Australia/New Zealand merit serious consideration. Your best bet is to book through an experienced, respected golf tour operator like Perry Golf. They’ll take care of every detail, right down to fixing your pitch marks. Price: $1,500 and up. Way up.

An in-home golf simulator: These are all the rage among golfers with the space and disposable income to install one. P3ProSwing is one of the more affordable suppliers, and its packages allow you to “play” famous courses and analyze your swing. Price: Starting at $599; most popular package is $1,228.

Black beauties: Master clubmaker Katsuhiro Miura -- principal of Miura Golf -- is renowned for the look and feel of his luscious forgings, as his Limited Forged Black Blades attest. The appearance is so striking, in fact, your recipient may choose to display them rather than play them. Price: $2,200 (3-iron through PW)

MID-PRICED GOODIES

Major ducats: Every golf fan dreams of attending the Masters, but Barack Obama will be elected president of the NRA before you’ll score passes to that event. Your golfer will have to settle for the U.S. Open, played next year at San Francisco’s splendid Olympic Club. The USGA is currently running a holiday special – jump on it before Jan. 2, 2012 to grab some extra goodies. Price: $450 for individual Weekly Grounds Ticket.

Walk this way: We believe the game should be played on foot, and that those feet should be comfortable on their 5-mile journey around the course. Every major manufacturer makes lightweight, comfy shoes these days, so you can’t go wrong with FootJoy, adidas, Ecco, or any of the big brands. But we’re partial to upstart TRUE Linkswear, whose ultra-low-profile, spikeless kicks have made a big impression. Price: Starting at $129.

Clicgear golf cart

Cligear golf cart

Push it good: Sticking with the theme, toting a bag over the shoulder for 18 holes can really wear you out. A push cart makes things so much easier. Aficionados adore the folding 3-wheel models made by Clicgear, available in nine colors with a bundle of accessories. Price: $199

STOCKING STUFFERS

Scotland’s Caddies: This charming film, available on DVD, delivers 69 minutes of old-school Scottish loopers spinning yarns about everything and everyone. Caddies from St. Andrews, Troon, Dornoch, Turnberry, Gleneagles and other classic courses tattle on celebrities like Jack Nicholson and Sean Connery. They take on cheaters, too, as well as Americans and the dreaded French. The scenery is spectacular. Price: $19.95

Sock it to ’em: Socks are socks, right? Wrong. Kentwool uses super-fine Merino wool to make a sock so comfortable, the company says it can boost your energy and make you play better. Some sock, huh? Pros like Matt Kuchar and Bubba Watson think so. Price: $24.95 for a pair of Tour Standard models.

Spy on Equipment: Long Putters, Snazzy Shoes and New Mizuno Irons

Golf gear manufacturers release a lot of new equipment during the year. While the vast majority of offerings are simply updated, tricked-out versions of existing models, interesting stuff does come down the pike every now and then.

Here are a few equipment items that caught our attention in recent weeks.

Bellying up – way up

TaylorMade Ghost Spider

TaylorMade's Ghost Spider putter.

Every golfer of a certain age remembers Jack Nicklaus’ stunning Masters triumph in 1986. Most have forgotten the explosion of putter sales that followed his win. Specifically, sales of the mammoth-headed MacGregor Response ZT putter Nicklaus used to make all those back-nine bombs.

In the 2 ½ years following Nicklaus’ sixth Masters victory, MacGregor sold an astounding 350,000 Response ZTs. A similar boom is mushrooming now in the belly and long putter market.

Late-season victories by Keegan Bradley, Adam Scott and Webb Simpson put extended flatsticks front and center in the public’s eye. TaylorMade recently tripled fourth-quarter sales expectations for long and belly putters, and accelerated the timeline for launching long versions of its popular Corza Ghost and Ghost Spider models.

Cleveland and Odyssey have reported similar success and product plans.

adidas joins street shoe brigade

Constant innovation is a key benefit of the free-market system. And whenever something original breaks through to a mass audience, copy-cats are sure to follow.

adidas adicross golf shoes

adidas' new adicross golf shoes

Hence, Nirvana begat Bush, the Android rode the iPhone’s coattails, and adidas joined the parade of companies mimicking Ecco’s Street Premiere golf shoes.

The adicross is adidas’ entry into this expanding category, which FootJoy, Nike and startups like Kikkor Golf have joined. (For the record, we consider TRUE Linkswear shoes a somewhat different breed.)

What does adicross offer? Lightweight, full-grain leather, five color combos and, of course, a spikeless sole.

Not to be confused with soul-less tripe. For that, we recommend listening to a Bush album.

Rejoice: Mizuno intros new irons

Few golf brands inspire the loyalty of Mizuno, specifically, the company’s forged irons. (You’ll get my Mizzies when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.)

Mizuno MP-59 irons

Mizuno's MP-59

There’s a new member of the esteemed MP family, the cavity-back MP-59. Like its forebear, the MP-58, the 59 features a hunk of titanium forged into the back of the blade. The company claims a 5-percent larger sweet spot on the MP-59s than the 58s.

Mizuno aims these irons at golfers in the plus-2 to 13 handicap range. In other words, you need to be a decent stick, but not a world-beater, to wield them properly.

The Sweetest Sound On Earth: Ping Golf Irons

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The sound of a Ping Golf Iron is something that is music to the ears of any golfer. Founded by a former engineer, Ping originally produced putters in the late 1950’s, but quickly broadened its line to keep up with demand and the times. Historically, Ping came into prominence as the “winningest” brand putter because of more than 500 professional golf wins as well as the heel to toe weighting technology that the company designed. Introduced and popularized in 1969, the “69” model of irons began Ping’s claim to fame on the game of golf outside of just putting; since that point, Ping has produced countless lines of irons, but also introduced and engineered some of the greatest technology in the short game and iron industry.

Currently, Ping produces seven models of irons, Ping not only uses the most advanced technology, but also continuously develops and tests new features, science, and products at its private and all-inclusive facility in Phoenix, Arizona. An interesting and well known model of Ping Golf Irons is i15. Made of a composite material including Tungsten, the i15 line is essentially on the center of the Ping scale in terms of playability. Offering moderate forgiveness and a medium trajectory, the club face is average size and ultimately combines the style of the old game with the technology and efficiency of the new game.

The price of Ping Golf Irons vary depending on the gender, material, and specific qualities of the set. However, buyers can expect to pay approximately $500 USD for a new, upscale lie of Ping Golf Irons. The investment is well worth it because reviews of the i15, K15, and new G20 series indicate that several players have added distance as well as improve accuracy after testing and buying the famous brand. Although all brands and clubs are not created equally, Ping’s illustrious past and devoted present has set itself apart from competitors by means of success and how the company is able to change the game: one swing at a time.

Shopping for Ping takes little effort. The brand is nationally and internationally recognized for its professionally built and serviced products. One suggestion when in the market for anything Ping is to look at both local and chain stores. Local stores may be a bit more expensive, but the service may be tailored specifically to golf, which can provide the prospective buyer with an unbiased review of the clubs. National chains like Dick's Sporting Goods or Sports Authority provide products at a discounted rate, but the staff may not be as knowledgeable about the specifics of one brand of one sporting good as opposed to the other.

What are the Best Golf Irons Available

So many companies claim to have the “best” brand name golf irons, but who is really producing the best golf irons? According to several players, golf professionals, and tour champion players, Callaway makes the best irons on the market. Originally discovered in the wine country region of California, Callaway became the epitome of luxury and style with its various products. In today’s market Callaway irons can be found across the country in a number of major retail chains as well as local pro-shops and clubhouses and have become noted as some of the best golf irons. Professionals currently touring and using Callaway irons include Master’s winners Trevor Immelman, Phil Mickelson, and Gary Player as well as Annika Sorenstam and Morgan Pressel of the LPGA.

Callaway uses the highest quality and performing materials available. The testing facility at Callaway also is known for researching a club until it literally breaks from so much wear. Ultimately, the research and testing pays off with some of the finest products on the market including the Best Golf Irons. Finding some of the best irons does not have to come with a cost: discounts are available at large retail outlets or through online sources. Custom fittings are also offered by Callaway, which is yet another service that sets them apart from the rest.

Now, how might one come across a used set of the Best Golf Irons. Well as one of the more popular brands of apparel available, the problem is not finding a set, but rather affording them. Retailing for approximately $700 USD, the Diablo Forged Iron collection offers the best in technology, comfort, and other important aspects that golf equipment need to have. As the most strategic and important clubs, Callaway has and continues to be committed to excellence in its short and long range iron collections.

As one of the best lines of irons, the Diablo Forged Irons is not only favored by those on tour, but also club champions, ranked NCAA golfers, and the average player too. Diablo Forged Irons incorporate some of the best science for the price and are bound to improve any golfer’s performance out on the course. Some of the intended features of the Diablo Forged Iron series is a lightweight shaft for a faster swing, a smooth club head for perfect club-ground-ball contact, and a unique and custom-feeling grip that is both comfortable and functional when swinging one hundred percent or just ten percent. Benefits of the Diablo series include adding a profound distance onto every stroke, an industry comparable loft, and the rounded ‘blade’ for a more forgiving swing.

No Need to Fear, Cobra Golf Irons are Here

Cobra Golf has experienced a rich and at times, famous past. Founded by an amateur Australian golfer in 1973, the company began producing one of the most utilized and complex utility clubs of its day. By the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Cobra began pioneering graphite technology and experimenting with composite metals for its drivers, irons, and putters. In 1991, the Cobra Golf Company and its famed Cobra Golf Irons saw a boost in popularity and performance when legendary golfer, Greg Norman, began endorsing the line of products. By 1992, the King Cobra oversized iron collection became the leading line of irons in he world and the company never looked back.

Today, Cobra’s popularity may have settled, but the company’s past is as much the present and future as can be: remodeling and redesigning lines that made the company successful in the 1990’s have given new life to the Cobra name. Some of the current Cobra Golf Iron lines include Cobra S3 Max, Cobra S3 Iron-Hybrids, and Cobra S2 Forged.

In the Cobra S2 Forged line, golfers are treated to superior control, carbon steel milled grooves, and a cavity optimized for the ideal, center-out weighting. The cost of purchasing this particular set is about $600 USD, but is well worth the investment for it will radically change one’s game for the better. Hybrid models are becoming increasingly popular among amateur and even professional players because of the forgiveness and improvement to a shot that is provided with a hybrid club. In the game of hybrid irons, Cobra may be lesser known, which may be to the fault of buyers themselves. Cobra manufactures several lines that are mixed iron-hybrids and can compete directly with the more famous brands and in some cases outperform them: a reference to one Cobra S3 Max Iron-Hybrid 7 iron versus a Adams IDEA a7. Of course results may very and may not be able to be reproduced, but it only takes one great shot to go from a potential par to the beloved birdie.

Ranging in material, style, shape, and function, what seems to be the only constant across Cobra lines is that each club maintains the signature gold and black color scheme that sets Cobra apart from the other name brands of golf clubs. Another unique quality to Cobra Golf Irons is that both male and female styles are very similar in performance and upon inspection of the Cobra website, each model has an opposite gender counterpart. What this means for players is that no one gender has the advantage over the other and that the quality of the clubs are universally controlled at the manufacturing plant.

The Expanding Grasp of Mizuno Sports: Mizuno Golf Irons

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Mizuno is a well known name across the sports industry so it is natural that the company looks to expand its name and presence in the golf sector. Mizuno Golf Irons are the latest and greatest product to come out of this Japanese founded, Norcross, Georgia based company. Having coined the philosophy “never settle,” Mizuno’s one hundred year history has been highlighted with improving the performance of countless athletes across every major sport known on the planet. Golf being the focus of late, Mizuno is now considered to be a major player in the industry and has signed some of the premier names to its roster: the likes of Luke Donald, Charles Howell III and Stacy Lewis have all played with Mizuno Golf Irons and now have a vested interest in the growth and promotion of the brand from an amateur to professional grade.

Since Mizuno Golf remains in its infancy, the availability of its products on a local level is hit-or-miss. However, Mizuno’s national presence has dominated the market for a few years and has brought several key advancements to the game. Keeping in close competition with older, higher end brands like Callaway or Cleveland, Mizuno tries to provide the best possible, quality product, while attempting to keep costs to the consumer relatively low.

Bringing ten models to the market, Mizuno Golf Irons range in features from the classic straight steel head to the technologically advanced hybrid editions. First, golfers will have to choose between one of two game developing lines: the JPX Game Improvement model and the MP Game Enhancement model. The JPX Game Improvement line offers clubs developed with a deep cavity for maximum forgiveness and greater accuracy, a larger “sweet spot” on the club face to give golfers the added delight of a properly struck ball, and finally, a uniquely designed groove pattern for greater loft, bounce, and power potential. The MP Game Enhancement line is the proverbial older brother to the JPX line. With the MP Game Enhancement collection, golfers are able to experience even greater ball control, a soft, fluid swing emanating from the perfected weighting system, and the patent-pending “V” slot cavity in the back and “U-grooves” in the front to totally enhance an already decent, middle handicapped game.

Depending on which of the ten lines or many wedges is chosen by the prospective golfer, Mizuno Golf Iron sets typically retail for $700 USD. Although the company is currently the brand of choice for amateurs and young professionals, Mizuno remains committed to its customers and will be growing in the future to include more famous names and even better quality products.

All Encompassing Review of Brand Name Golf Irons

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In a game that essentially comes down to the short approach, golf irons are arguably the most important aspect to a golfer’s collection. Today, golf irons account for more than one-third of total club sales around the world and a leading models of late are Callaway X-24’s, Titleist CB’s, and Mizuno MP-53’s. According to many Golf Iron Reviews and interviews with amateur players, these clubs rank amongst the best buys in the industry and many make the best game improvement irons around.

All of these brands are popular and relatively new so they are most abundant and at many of the major retail chains like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Golf Smith, or The Golf Warehouse in addition to smaller stores, pro-shops, and internet based golf outfitters. At this point, buying used is not necessarily more economical; a new club will retail for perhaps $20-30 USD more than used and can come with worn grips, dents, and scratches so for the extra money, buy new and get the warrantee.

The X-24 line made by Callaway features an all graphite head with patented groove and weighting technology that allows a greater loft and better spin control. Golf Iron Reviews dictate that this particular model is slightly better in performance than other reputed brands, but of course the product should be tested and other golfers should be consulted before considering purchasing the X-24 series. CB irons made by Titleist features a solid carbon steel head with a chrome finish, flexible shaft, and comes with some of the best standard grips out of any new club series. CB irons are comparable in distance hitting with Callaway’s and are nearly identical in success with its 3, 4, and 5 irons to other brands. Finally, the MP-53 series made by Mizuno is one of the more pricey sets of the lesser known or bought clubs. The MP-53 line capitalizes on the heel to toe weighing and its flatter, oversized head to maximize forgiveness.

Prices on the X-24’s are right around $500 USD per set or about another $200 USD or so for a complete set with a bag at some stores. However, the unsponsored golfer will divulge that the best irons may not make the best drivers or putters so for that aspect it is advised to do some testing and research. Nearly the same financial concerns are true for the CB irons and the MP-53 models and include the aspect of buying a complete set or not buying a complete set.

Conclusively, in the world of instant Golf Iron Reviews, testing centers, and multimedia golf communications, golfers are able to gain knowledge and understanding of how each golf product sold on the market performs and if it is worth buying or not worth the time to talk about at the 19th hole.

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