Given that golf is such a massively popular sport and has such a vast and diverse range of products available related to it, it is perhaps somewhat paradoxical that when it comes to buying Christmas presents, golfers can be very awkward creatures to buy items for!
There are many tales up and down the country of how club members get together on boxing day at the clubhouse, solely with a view to either wearing or showing the daftest golfing gifts they have received this year, ranging from the type of clothing that even John Daly would question wearing, to the ‘handy’ rangefinder GPS system that is accurate to the nearest square mile and requires the battery capacity of a nuclear submarine to last longer than three holes.
So with that in mind and with our tongue firmly in our cheek, here is the Gorilla Golf guide of what not to buy a golfer at Christmas, complete with some suggestions of what you can buy them that they will appreciate instead!
1. ‘Value’ Golf Balls, usually 60 Dozen for about 10 Euros
This is one of my personal favourites as my mother in law as a surprise bought me several packs of value golf balls for me to use years ago. Unfortunately, hitting them was like hitting a boulder and sent unnerving reverberations up the club every time I tried.
You can gain zero control over the ball, no matter how high or soft you hit it, cut it or slide it, the ball just lands, bounces on, and on, and on until finally it comes to rest in the nearest pond.
These balls are only really useful to any semi-decent player on the range, and the range provide the balls for you to hit there, so really there is no need to buy them. Even at that great low price. They will just sit in a cupboard collecting dust for many years before being smashed away at a local driving range.
Solution: Find out from your golfing giftee what ball they like to play and then head to a club shop and speak to a professional about what the best deal is to get that ball, or a ball of similar price with similar qualities. That way, you’ll be giving a golfer a gift that they will use and which will be of benefit to them out on the course.
2. The ‘Quirky’ Golf Gift
Over the years I’ve received so many of these it is hard to recount them all. Golf swing trainers so complex you need a degree in geometry to work out how to put it together, an ‘office putting kit’ with a putter that came in four pieces and a ball seemingly made out of plaster of Paris… you know exactly the gifts I mean!
To be honest, many of these quirky golf gifts are of little use to the golfer. Some items (such as ball markers, score card holders, personalised tees etc) are of more use than others, but the extra you pay for the ‘quirkiness’ value (such as personalising the item) doesn’t make them any better for the golfer, merely more expensive to purchase for the buyer!
Solution: Again, the key here is to find out what the golfer uses. Forget the quirkiness and personalisation issue, buy the golfer equipment they may need during the season. Replacement spikes for the shoes, golf gloves of the style and make they use, tees, a good quality golf cap or even an iTunes voucher so they can download the latest iPhone or iPad golfing app.
3. ‘Unusual’ Golf Clothing
Without doubt, there are golfers out their with their own inimitable style. Ian Poulter is one, John Daly (above) another. Yet that doesn’t mean that their sartorial elegance, or lack thereof, translates particularly well onto the course with friends in the monthly medal.
There are many stories of golf clubs around the UK and Ireland where the members are encouraged to turn up at the first social event after Christmas, forced to wear the golf clothing they have been bought by well-meaning friends and relatives. This cascade of dreadful sweaters, outlandish Rupert-bear trousers and garish pink, green and yellow jumpers is almost part of British Christmas golfing tradition.
Solution: The solution is simple here, avoid going for something ‘amusing’ or ‘different’ and think about who you are buying for like you would any other person. The fact they are a golfer does not mean they have an obsession with pink tank tops and trousers nobody else would look at. Stick to classic colours and styles, there’s still plenty to choose from and many are now great value too.
4. A new driver or putter.
This breaks my heart to write this but to see a loved one spend hundreds of pounds or dollars on a top of the range club, such as a driver, or a slightly lesser amount on a fab new putter is such a lovely and heart warming gesture. So to criticise this is churlish. Please understand, we fully appreciate the kind, loving and considerate thoughts behind this purchase, but here’s why it is a bad idea…
A serious golfer will have a relationship with their putter and/or their driver. It’s hard to explain but the feeling they get with that club in their hand gives them confidence they can play the game to the best of their ability. Suddenly changing that, with no warning, to a club that the user has no experience of and which may not even suit their game, can be traumatic.
Imagine the poor golfer caught in this dilemma, on the one hand, they want to please their partner by using the clubs he or she spent so much time and money on for them to show their gratitude, but on the other hand, there’s no denying that they can’t shoot a decent score to save their life with them and so their handicap is dropping faster than Felix Baumgartner from his Red Bull capsule.
Solution: Buying a club is not something you can do at a decent level off the shelf, especially for a driver or a putter. Head to your local pro shop and speak with the pro and put some money on a card or voucher so your loved one can come in and try out a range of different clubs, get fitted for the club by the professional and that way, they not only get a new club, but they will also know it is right for them and their game.
Images by: Golf balls image © Palych1378, John Daly’s Facebook Page, Taylor Made Facebook Page.