We present our guide on the best golf gift ideas – cool golf gadgets and equipment that will appeal to golfers at a range of skill levels, and that are available at a variety of different price points. Our list of “Do’s” and “Don’ts” provide our thoughts on which gifts will elicit an enthusiastic “SWEET!! YOU ARE THE BEST EVER!!!” and which will trigger an “ummm…is there a gift receipt in the box?”DO’S
Golf GPS Units. These nifty devices show golfers how far they are from the hole. The advanced units provide overhead satellite maps, aerial videos that show the hole layout, touchscreens, and electronic scoring and statistics.
These are cool, and the high-end units can definitely impress your friends.
Golf GPS devices are easy to use – just walk to the ball, and the unit will recalculate and display the distance to the green and, in the case of most devices, the distance to various hazards and targets as well.
Some units require an annual subscription or charge per-course fees to access golf courses. So watch out – you may be giving the gift that keeps on giving!
What to Watch Out For
The devices range in terms of the amount of tech savvy necessary to get up and running. Some are ready to go out of the box, while others require downloading software to a computer and connecting the GPS device to the computer to add the desired golf courses.
Low end – $150 (basic units such as the Bushnell Neo and IZZO SWAMI 1500)
High end – $400-$500 (top-of-the-line devices like the Callaway uPro, Garmin G5 Approach and OnPar)
Golf Laser Rangefinders. Another gadget for getting the distance to the hole is a laser rangefinder. These devices look like binoculars, and just require the golfer to aim and push a button to fire a laser and receive an extremely precise reading on how far it is to the target.
Laser rangefinders are more accurate than GPS devices, and as a result, are generally preferred by professional caddies (who use them during practice rounds – they are not allowed in professional tournaments).
Acquiring targets that are a long distance away requires a steady hand and some practice.
If your view of a target is obscured (you are blocked by a line of trees, or you are at the bottom of a steep hill and can’t see the flag), you cannot obtain a distance.
What to Watch Out For
Some of the advanced devices also provide distances that adjust for the slope (uphill or downhill) between the user and the target. While this is pretty cool, it is also prohibited by the USGA, the official arbiter of the rules of golf in the United States. Thus a golfer cannot use a slope-adjusting laser rangefinder in any round that is submitted for official handicap-keeping purposes, nor can it be used in most amateur tournaments.
Low end – $330 (a basic unit like the Opti-Logic Insight GL)
High end – $500+ (top of the line products such as the Leupold GX-II, Bushnell Pinseeker 1600 Slope Edition and Callaway LR1200)
Putters. The putter is the club that players actually use most often during a round, and is also the club that many players don’t splurge on for themselves, making it a great gift idea. The caveat on putters is that the choice of a putter is a very personal decision, dependent on the intangible “feel” that a putter provides and the “look” as the player looks down on the ball. High-end putters from Scotty Cameron, Bettinardi (Mizuno), and Rife are spoken of in hushed whispers and regarded as works of art.
Most golfers will never hit the ball 300 yards, but they can learn to get down in two putts. So it’s the one area in which an amateur can actually use the exact same equipment as a pro!
Since it’s such a touchy feely decision, it may be tough to select just the right one as a gift. Still, we think any golfer will appreciate the gift of a high-end putter, if for no other reason than to validate that they actually prefer their current putter.
What to Watch Out For
Note that we’ve been careful to qualify our statements by saying that golfers will appreciate the gift of a HIGH-END putter. No one wants a lame putter that comes out of the bargain rack from Wal-Mart. You can’t go wrong with a top-of-the-line Scotty Cameron putter…but it will set you back at least $300.
Low end — were you not listening to us? Don’t buy a low end putter as a gift!
High end — from $150 (Rife Barbados) to $250 (Bettinardi Black Carbon) to $300-$500 (various Scotty Cameron models). In case you’re wondering, Tiger Woods uses a Scotty Cameron putter – but it’s a prototype that isn’t available for the general public.
Golf Push Carts. Most manly men will refuse to rent a push cart for $5 at their local course, even if it would save significant wear and tear on their achy back. But if someone GAVE them a push cart, they might actually use it.
Even the fanciest models top out at $200, so you can give the best on the market without breaking the bank.
Someone who always rides in an electric cart may not use a push carts very much (even though it would be much better for their health to get out and walk).
What to Watch Out For
The newer models are getting more compact, but some of the older versions are pretty big, even when folded up. It’s worth giving some consideration to the size of the trunk in the gift recipient’s car when you choose which push cart to buy.
Low end — $40
High end — $200 for fancy new models like the Sun Mountain Micro Cart and the Clicgear 2.0
Books / DVDs. Everyone can use a little help with their swing, putting or mental game.
Reasonable price points – they make great stocking stuffers!
Some might take offense at the suggestion that their golf game needs work (even though it probably does).
Low end – $13 for Tiger Woods’ How I Play Golf
High end – $40+ for glossy coffee table books, such as Alister MacKenzie’s Cypress Point Club or The Golden Age of Golf Design, both from Geoff Shackleford
Training Aids. From putting to full swing, for those who are snowbound in winter, or simply can’t get to the course as much as they would like, there are endless numbers of training devices to get your game in top form.
Practice anytime, and it doesn’t take 5 hours out of the day.
Will they really get used? Or will they wind up in the back of the closet with the Thighmaster?
Low end: $15-30 for stocking stuffers such as impact tape from Longshot Golf and Dave Pelz’s putter clips
High end: $200+ for training clubs like the Medicus dual-hinge drivers, or high tech devices such as the TOMI putting stroke analyzer
Golf Clubs. Most golfers are extremely persnickety about their golf clubs. Some folks always stick with a particular brand, like Callaway or TaylorMade. Others mix and match, always striving for a particular look and feel. Our recommendation on giving the gift of a pricey new set of golf clubs is that unless you know EXACTLY what someone wants, it’s best to let them find clubs on their own.
Socks. No one ever wants to get socks as a gift. Enough said.
Golf Practice Nets. Hitting into a net just doesn’t feel right. If a trip to the driving range isn’t feasible, most folks are likely to just turn on the TV and watch the pros play instead of going to the trouble of setting up a practice net out in the yard.
Golf-Related Clocks or Bookends. A pair of socks would sound good in comparison.
Ball Retrievers. Please do not put anyone else through the pain of waiting for someone in the group in front of them to fish some “free” balls out of a toxic pond.