Gifts for golfers

December 21, 2010 10:29:43 AM PST
If you like or love a golfer, but know nothing about the game, buying a gift for him or her can be a nerve wracking waste of time. Plenty of companies peddle worthless crap aimed at innocents like you, but it does not have to be that way.

Here are a few recommendations guaranteed to make your golfer happy.

SKILZ POP UP PRACTICE NET: For the price of a dozen large buckets of balls, your golfer can have his own driving range in his garage, or even his living room. Of all the nets we have tried, this one is a cut above. We tried the seven by seven foot square version, which sets up or folds away in three minutes. Better yet, it can double as a hockey goal or baseball backstop. The net includes attachable targets for golf or pitching to a strike zone. One caveat: do not hit real golf balls into it. While the net is sturdy, the golf target is penetrable.

Speaking of balls - try some practice balls from Almost Golf. They're solid, but plastic, and light enough to keep the windows of your house intact. I use them exclusively into the practice net because shanks can be even more troublesome when one's wife sees the damage.

Next, add a hitting mat. We like 'The Golf Mat', endorsed by Vijay Singh. It's a little more expensive, but feels just like real turf.

CLUBS:

General Rule #1: Buy lessons for your golfer before you buy clubs.

General Rule #2: If you do purchase clubs for your player, have them custom fitted, and not by some local-yokel in a golf shop. Do some research, and find a custom maker. If you need help finding one in your area, contact me.

Wayne.Freedman@abc.com

Having vented, I will recommend one off-the-rack driver:

CLEVELAND LAUNCHER DST DRIVER:

I have tried this driver, and seen it work for slightly older, but very good players who seek extra swing speed. The club is 25 grams lighter than a standard driver, helping a player to move the head as much as five miles per hour faster, and hit the ball farther. It has a 460 head, a good sound, and offers very good forgiveness. The DST also comes with my favorite, a Diamana shaft. And, at about $200, this driver will not break the bank. It's a good deal.

BOOKS:

DAVE PELZ'S GOLF WITHOUT FEAR: How To Play the 10 Most Feared Shots in Golf With Confidence

Dave Pelz is a short-game guru?an expert on all the shots from 100 yards and in. Those are where good rounds are lost, made, or saved. His new instructional book examines the game's ten most feared shots, including pitches, chips, sand shots, lag putts, and short ones. In straight-forward language, Pelz explains why golfers miss them, and, more important, provides step-by-step solutions, with photos, for solving them. It is his best, most approachable book, yet.

MIRACLE AT MERION: THE INSPIRING STORY OF BEN HOGAN'S AMAZING COMEBACK AND VICTORY AT THE 1950 US OPEN

David Barrett's history book is a clean, unembellished read, with lots of good details about the professional golf in the 30's, 40's and 50's. While it tells the story of Ben Hogan's return from nearly-fatal automobile accident, the book is also about his competitors, and the touring life in a time before weekly television coverage, sponsors tents, and million dollar purses. It's a good read.

THE ONE AND ONLY SAM SNEAD

Al Barkow is the world's greatest living expert on Sam Snead, and he is a local author. More than that, Al is a Hall of Fame golf writer, and still a very good player, himself. He is a friend who has given me more than a few fine swing tips.

This is the definitive biography of a larger-than-life natural athlete and 'country bumpkin' who won 81 PGA tournaments, and holds the record as the oldest winner, ever. Snead never won a US Open, but he may have been the greatest golfer of them all.

Barkow spent considerable time with Snead. In reading this book, he brings the fabled golfer back to life.


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