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:


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)


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


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.

Belated Thanks for Golf’s Great Pleasures

Boy, did Thanksgiving come and go in a tryptophan-induced haze. Got buried so deep in turkey and stuffing, I neglected to post this article in a timely fashion.

Having scarfed the last scrap of leftovers, here are a few of the thousand things that make me thankful to be a golfer:

St. Andrews, Scotland - Old Course

No. 1 on our bucket list.

Walking a deserted course, solo, first thing on a Sunday morning.

A three-and-a-half-hour round.

Courses where you can’t possibly plunk a house off the tee.

A foursome without one of the guys who top this list.

Playing partners who know when to call off the hunt for a lost ball.

Hybrid clubs.

Launch monitors.


The golf equipment geeks who hang out here.

Friendly starters and marshalls.

Old-school Scottish caddies, like these guys.

ShotLink, the all-knowing PGA Tour stat-keeping tool, for those occasions when I just have to know which player is most likely to bunt a drive less than 240 yards, or score the lowest with a late second-round tee time going off the 10th tee. (Seriously, it’s all in there.)

Rory McIlroy

Thing o' beauty: Rory McIlroy's swing.

David Feherty.

Mike Keiser (visionary founder of Bandon Dunes and Cabot Links).

The town of St. Andrews, Scotland – No. 1 on my bucket list of places to visit.

Minimalist design and the architects who practice it.

Firm, fast conditions.

19th holes that serve local microbrews.

Pull carts.

Stand bags.

Rory McIlroy’s swing.

Matt Kuchar’s smile.

Tiger Woods’ glare.

Luke Donald’s putting stroke.

Seaside golf.

Handheld GPS devices and rangefinders.

The USGA’s Mike Davis, whose U.S. Open setups emphasize shotmaking and imagination over hacking out sideways from ankle-deep rough.

Street-style golf shoes.

Caddyshack quotes. Some of the best are short: “Don’t sell yourself short, Judge, you’re a tremendous slouch.” Others, classically long: “So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, ‘Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.’ And he says, ‘Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.’ So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.”

It sure is, Carl. It sure is.


Golf Claps & Silent Treatment: Tour Championship

September 26, 2011 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Entertaining News, Golf News, Pro Insider, Spy Blog 

Bill Haas has been pegged for golf greatness since he was a teenager. He may finally have reached star status with Sunday’s victory at the Tour Championship.

Bill Haas wins Tour Championship

Bill Haas (r) and Tim Finchem

What no one could have predicted, at least a week ago, was that Haas would emerge as the 2011 FedEx Cup winner, too. Thanks to the playoff series’ baffling points formula – and the leaders’ last-tourney stumbles – Haas’ lone victory of the year earned him the title and $10 million check.

That Haas, 29, came out ahead of Webb Simpson and Luke Donald highlights the conundrum faced by the PGA Tour in awarding points. Looking to create maximum drama at the Tour Championship, the Tour weighs the finale’s results more heavily than the other three FedEx events. That makes it more likely that Tour Championship contenders are also vying for the Cup’s riches, but increases the odds that a player without great credentials – a la Haas – will take the whole enchilada.

Our math skills aren’t up to the task of devising an alternative, so we’ll get to the business of this week’s highs and lows.

Golf Claps

Bill Haas: Though he nearly gave it all away with bogeys on two of his final four holes in regulation, Haas was gritty in his playoff with Hunter Mahan. Haas hammered home a 10-foot par putt to stay alive on the first extra hole, then played one of the year’s most memorable shots on the second.

His ball lying on the edge of a water hazard, Haas splashed out a delicate explosion shot that settled with 3 feet of the cup. After matching Mahan’s par there, Haas drained a 6-footer on the third playoff hole to claim his signature victory. So far.

The belly putter: Those murmurs you hear are actually grumbles, and they’re coming from golf traditionalists decrying yet another Tour win for a non-conventional putter. Haas, who anchors a mid-length wand to his belly, joined Simpson, PGA champion Keegan Bradley and WGC-Bridgestone winner Adam Scott among late-season victors using extra-long flat sticks.

Silent Treatment

FedEx Cup contenders: Of the top five in the points standings heading into the Tour Championship, only Luke Donald contended on Sunday. His third-place finish was easily the best of the group as Justin Rose (T20), Matt Kuchar (T20), Simpson (22) and Dustin Johnson (T23) barely caused a ripple.

If not for Haas’ heroics, this could have been one dud of a climax.

Golf Claps & Silent Treatment: The Barclays

August 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Entertaining News, Golf News, Pro Insider, Spy Blog 

That gust you heard wasn’t Hurricane Irene, but a sigh of relief coming from the PGA Tour officials who decided Saturday was a suitable day to conclude The Barclays.

HurricaneYes, with all of New Jersey under a state of emergency and nearby New York shutting down its mass transit system in advance of the cyclone, the show went on at Plainfield CC in Edison, N.J. Fortunately, they managed to finish the FedEx Cup’s first 2011 event early Saturday afternoon and get everyone off the course safe and sound.

Dustin Johnson weathered the storm better than anyone. The lanky, athletic wonder swamped 36-hole leader Matt Kuchar with a final-round 65, vaulting into the top spot in the Cup standings with three tourneys to go.

The next sound you hear will be our polite acknowledgement of the weekend’s winners.

Golf Claps

  • Dustin Johnson: Hurricane, schmurricane. Johnson rained on Kuchar’s parade with a front-nine 29 (6-under), then cruised home with nine straight pars as Kuchar crumbled. The win was Johnson’s first this season and fifth of his career. It put him not only in command of the FedEx Cup race, but in contention for the subjective title of Best American Golfer.
  • Vijay Singh: Thought ol’ Veej was done for, didn’t you? Hardly. By tying for third, Singh jumped from 36th to eighth in the Cup standings, giving him a chance to take the whole shooting match for the second time. While he hasn’t won in three years, Singh, now 48, is feeling fine thanks to a recent injection in his ailing back. Watch out for him at this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, which he won in 2008.
  • Ian Poulter (pictured): Staring at FedEx Cup elimination, the colorful Englishmen needed a furious finish toIan Poulter keep his season alive. Four birdies in the last five holes and a closing 64 did the trick, pushing Poulter from 114th all the way to 78th.
  • Ernie Els: Likewise, Els fired a final-round 67 to sneak into the top Cup’s 100 – 99th to be exact – and qualify for the Deutsche Bank. Things don’t come as easy for big Ernie as they once did, but at least he’s showing signs of life.

Silent Treatment

  • Tour planners: OK, so all’s well that ends well. But it seemed odd, almost arrogant, to be playing a golf tournament amidst the chaos Irene brought to the Northeast. While families sought shelter and supplies in preparation for the worst – which thankfully didn’t materialize – pro golfers whistled while they, um, worked. Weird.
  • The eight who dropped out: Say goodbye to Bryce Molder, Hunter Haas, Chris DiMarco, Paul Goydos, Nick O’Hern, Matt Bettencourt, Tim Herron and Michael Bradley. They slipped from the top 100 in the Cup standings and failed to qualify for the remaining events. But hey, that means plenty of free time to watch football!

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