If you have a diehard golfer in your life, deciding on gifts for him or her for holidays and birthdays is easy: golf gifts. But what if you’re not a golfer yourself? The amount of options for golf equipment and accessories can be overwhelming, so where do you start?
That’s where we’d like to help. It’s the perfect pairing: you need help picking out a gift for your golf enthusiast, and we just won’t shut up about golf. We put together the list of 6 golf gift ideas we feel your golf-obsessed spouse, friend, or family member would love to add to their collection.
Golf Gift Guide Category: Golf balls
Our recommendation: Titleist ProV1
What it does.
The golf ball is the only piece of equipment a golfer uses on every shot. While it may not seem like a big deal, choice of golf ball can affect a player’s score dramatically. Furthermore, because golf balls wear out relatively quickly, they are a safe choice for a gift. Golf balls can be bought in packs of 3 (“sleeves”) or by the dozen (“box”). The best way to buy them is by the box because you save a little money on each ball by buying in bulk. If budget is tight, it’s perfectly okay to buy a sleeve as a stocking stuffer.
Why they’ll love it.
Golf balls can vary a lot in quality. Different balls have different strengths and weaknesses. Titleist ProV1 golf balls tend to be the most popular, and they are universally considered the best balls on the market. They are what is considered a “soft” ball, which most importantly means they let a golfer put more spin on it when they hit it. This gives them more control and touch on their shots.
Some people say that ProV1 golf balls are only for professionals and really good players. That is false. No matter what level the golfer, a golf ball that gives more feel and more spin will help their game and boost their confidence. Also, it is fun to play the same ball that most of the professionals are playing.
Golf Gift Guide Category: Golf Bag
Our recommendation: Callaway Chev Stand Bag
What it does.
The job of the golf bag is simply to hold your golf clubs as you move around the course. You might point out that every golf bag on the planet can do that, so what makes one bag better than another? There’s a lot of variation between bags, including durability, amount of storage space, weight, and style can all be differentiating factors. Some even have built in coolers and lined pocket to protect smartphone screens and watch faces.
There are two main types of bags: the kind made to sit on carts, and the kind made to carry on your back. The bags you carry are called stand bags because there are two spring-loaded retractable legs (the stand) that pop out to prop your bag up when you set it down. If your golfer either owns or usually rents a cart, they will probably want a cart bag. Cart bags are bigger and can haul enough stuff to take a multi-day trip. If your golfer is a walker, they will need a stand bag.
Why they’ll love it.
The Callaway Chev Stand Bag is the clear winner in today’s market for value in a stand bag. Among the standard bells and whistles, it has better padding on the straps and back than most of its competition. More comfort means golfers are less tired and sore when they get to the last few holes of their round.
The other standout feature of the Chev is it stays upright even when set on an incline or during high winds. There are few things more frustrating or embarrassing than your golf bag getting knocked over by a wind gust when someone else is putting. Practicality and comfort are a good combination in a golf bag, and the Chev manages both.
Golf Gift Guide Category: Organizer
Our recommendation: Suncast Go3216
What it does.
An organizer is a great gift idea because the golfer in your life probably does not already have one. Your garage is probably cluttered with golf gear scattered all over the place. An organizer gives their golf stuff a dedicated space, making storage strategic and your garage a little less chaotic and brings a little zen to your garage.
Why they’ll love it.
The Suncast Go3216 model found the right blend of engineering and value. It is one of the least expensive two-bag organizers available, but has a reputation for being a champion of the three S’s: sturdy, sleek, and simple to assemble. The most notable feature is the adjustable feet for leveling it with your garage floor to prevent swaying.
Golf Gift Guide Category: GPS Watch
Our recommendation: Garmin Approach S6
Budget option: Bushnell NEO-iON
What it is.
GPS in golf is a lot more than getting directions from the tee box to the green. GPS can tell you how many yards it is to the hole, how many yards to the front and back of the green, how far you need to hit your lay-up shot on a long hole, and give you a bird’s eye view to help you manage the course. If your golfer does not currently have a golf GPS device, they will be ecstatic to get one. If they already have a handheld golf GPS, they may still appreciate the convenience of having the technology in a watch instead of a device they have to latch to their belt or golf bag.
Why they’ll love it.
The Garmin Approach S6 is as good as golf GPS gets. It’s one of the most high-end products on the market, so you will have to be prepared to pay for it. However, it’s also the best product available today, so if it is in your budget, you won’t be disappointed.
What makes it so good? It has touch-screen technology that allows golfers to find the yardage to any spot on the golf course, which is handy for lay-ups and avoiding hazards off the tee. This is especially helpful if a golfer is playing a course they are unfamiliar with.
The only warning about the S6 is that it burns a lot of battery due to the processing needs of the unit. Don’t expect to have an all-day marathon golf outing without stopping for a charge.
Other notable features are the fact that you don’t have to buy a subscription to access the 40,000+ courses already preloaded on the watch. Also, it has Bluetooth technology that can pair with your cell phone so you can receive texts and emails right on your watch. This is handy because it allows the golfer to keep their cell phone in their bag instead of their pocket during a round.
As a lower-priced alternative, the Bushnell NEO-iON GPS watch would have been cutting edge technology a few short years ago. With the technology improving so quickly, consumers can get their hands on very good GPS technology at bargain prices. For considerably less than high-end products like the S6, you can get a functional GPS that gives you yardage to the front, back, and middle of the green, and even yardage to certain hazards. The NEO-iON has a much longer battery life due to having less sophisticated graphics than the S6.
Golf Gift Guide Category: Rangefinder
Our recommendation: Bushnell V4 Golf Laser Rangefinder
What it is.
A rangefinder does the same thing a GPS does, but with different technology. It looks a bit like a pair of binoculars held sideways—and that’s essentially what it is, but with a laser. To put simply – it tells you how far you are from an object.
A golfer looks through the lens and aims at the pin. The laser bounces off the flagstick and tells the rangefinder how far away the target is. It’s simple technology that helps golfers in a big way. Rangefinders are similar to the GPS but there are a few differences: You don’t get to know the distance to anything you can’t see, so you are left guessing yardage if there are trees in your way or if a sand bunker is hidden below the horizon line. GPS watches, on the other hand, only give distances to pre-programmed targets (like the green or a sand trap) using satellites.
Why they’ll love it.
The Bushnell Tour V4 Golf Laser Rangefinder has a “pinseeker” feature. Laser rangefinders notoriously have trouble when there are trees behind the flagstick (also known as the pin). Sometimes the golfer doesn’t know if their rangefinder picked up the distance to the pin, or the trees ten yards behind it. The V4 has a handy little icon that will pop up to indicate that you’ve caught the flagstick instead of background objects. Your golf enthusiast will be able to avoid the mistake of hitting it twenty yards past the green when using the Tour V4.
The V4 has one more neat trick in the bag. Golfers need to adjust how far they hit shots into a green based on whether they are hitting uphill or downhill (uphill shots don’t carry as far). Most laser rangefinders give you yardage assuming there is no positive or negative slope between you and the hole. The V4 takes slope into consideration and calculates the effective distance to the hole. This lets golfers focus their energy on other things, like accounting for the wind or making a good swing. The slope function can be toggled on an off, a feature that is handy if your golfer likes to play in tournaments, because slope capabilities in rangefinders are illegal during tournament play.
Budget option: TecTecTec VPRO500 Rangefinder
For those on a budget, a great alternative to the V4 is the TecTecTec VPRO500 Rangefinder. The VPRO is notable for doing what it needs to do—and nothing more. It will give your golfer accurate distance readings up to 450 yards away, is rainproof, and has a one-year warranty.
GPS or Rangefinder: Which to pick?
Many golfers have both but a quick rule of thumb is if they only play a handful of times a year, the GPS watch is a better choice because of its convenience and overall accuracy. If the golfer plays a lot or is very good, a rangefinder is likely better because of its ability to give distances to very specific targets (think: ‘that small patch of fairway at the bottom of the hill’).
Golf Gift Guide Category: For True Junkies
Our recommendation: SkyTrak Launch Monitor
What it is.
If your golfing spouse, friend, or family member lives in a place with cold winters, they would probably love a way to play golf indoors while the snow flies. If your golfer resides in a part of the world that has mild winters, they may still appreciate a way to play golf in their pajamas without leaving their home. Thanks to technology, there is indeed a way. It’s called an indoor launch monitor, sometimes referred to as a golf simulator. While more expensive than other products on this list, a launch monitor is a great gift for the golfer who already has everything.
With a launch monitor, golfers hit real golf balls into a net or against a mat. The monitor then simulates the shot and casts a virtual video of it onto a computer monitor, projector screen, or even a mobile device. Many launch monitors let you play full rounds of golf on famous courses.
Why they’ll love it
There are basically three types of launch monitor technologies. The strength of the SkyTrak is that it is one of the better technologies, but at a price consumers can potentially afford.
The difference in the technologies is how the shot is measured. The most common consumer-targeted launch monitors are LED-based. An infrared light curtain gathers club data as the golfer swings. You really don’t even need to hit a ball for this to work. The nice part about this type of simulator is it’s very cost effective. There are decent models on the market for around $500. The downside is they do not simulate shots very accurately since they only watch what the club is doing, not the ball. They mostly look at clubface angle, speed, and path, which can give you a pretty good idea of what the shot would have looked like—but only pretty good.
The other most common type of simulator is called a Doppler system. Doppler simulators, just as you would imagine, use radar to track the movement of the ball. The system tracks the path of the shot all the way up until it hits the mat. This technology produces extremely accurate readings of the golf shot, but you need a lot of space and a lot of money to get into one of these systems.
The SkyTrak uses technology unique from the other two. The SkyTrak launch monitor is a photometric system, literally using photographs to predict what the shot would have done in real life. High-speed cameras capture what the ball does immediately after impact, and from there, predicts the ball’s expected flight path and distance.
The reason the photometric technology is significant is it works almost as well as the Doppler systems, but at a fraction of the price. Where a commercial grade Doppler simulator can cost over $40,000, you can get into the basic SkyTrak launch monitor unit for under $2,000. There are other expenses they’ll probably end up investing in, such as the optional yearly fees to have access to simulator software and other add-ons. There is also everything you’ll need to get set up for your in-home or garage hitting area, like a turf mat and a hitting net. However, if it won’t break the bank, the SkyTrak is the best value in launch monitors available today.
Have any gift ideas you’d recommend we add to this list? Let us know in the comments!