Tax refund + quarantine = online golf shopping

Hey, I bet you didn’t see this coming, huh?

I hope you and yours are staying healthy in these strange times. And I hope you’re all holding up emotionally.

The thing that’s keeping me going, along with my family, is my local golf course. As part of a county forest preserve, Lake of the Woods Golf Course (Mahomet, IL) is staying open as an essential service through all of this. And as a season pass-holder, I can call the pro shop to check in from the parking lot and roll my pushcart to the first tee. I can wave at other golfers from 20+ yards away and get some exercise. I can even call the pro shop form the course and ask them to put a couple beers outside the shop door for me at the turn. My son and I played 18 last week, and it was the only time that felt “normal” in three weeks.

But Illinois spring weather is finicky – rain and cold are keeping us inside most days. With no golf on TV, putting in the living room loses its luster pretty quickly.

If you’re in the same boat (and, really, we’re all in the same boat more than most of us ever truly appreciated), may I suggest some online retail therapy? Maybe your tax refund hit your bank account? And maybe it’s smaller than past years (I know mine’s been cut in half these past couple years), but you can still treat yourself, right? Trust me, some new golf gear will lift your spirits.

Bridgestone golf balls

Bridgestone tires grip the road, so you can trust Bridgestone golf balls to grip the green. The Tour B line for 2020 ($45/doz.) has been redesigned with the company’s proprietary REACTIV cover to maximize both feel and distance. The Tour B X is played by the likes of Matt Kuchar and Lexi Thompson. The Tour B XS is played by Tiger Woods (who helped design it, too). These two models are targeted at players with driver swing speeds over 105 mph. The Tour B RX and Tour B RXS are designed for players with swing speeds under 105 mph. I’m on the edge, so I’m going to go with the RX, as a nod to the heroes working in pharmacies and clinics these days.

TecTecTec ULT-X Rangefinder

Rangefinders have really grown on me over the years. I used to love the thrill of the guess, but now I enjoy verifying the yardage with laser precision. One of the more advanced rangefinders on the market is the ULT-X by TecTecTec ($250). It’s lightweight, uber-precise, and has an elevation mode that is easy to turn on and off. Doing so is accomplished by pulling the lens housing out or pushing it in. When the elevation mode is engaged, a bright yellow band is revealed, so players like my son, who play in tournaments in which measuring elevation is not allowed, will be less likely to forget to turn it off. I’ve also recently found that another handy use of the ULT-X is keeping an eye on other golfers around the course to maintain social distancing. You can ID friends from 100+ yards away and wave – that’ll have to do for now.

ASICS DUAL-COURSE Duo BOA golf shoes

The growing juggernaut Srixon/Cleveland Golf/XXIO has recently announced a partnership with athletic shoe manufacturer ASICS and the joint development of their flagship golf shoes, the GEL-COURSE Duo BOA ($180) and GEL-COURSE Glide ($130). Both models look and feel like ASICS gym shoes. The BOA features its namesake lacing system, which consists of wire laces that tighten and loosen with a dial on the side of the shoe, and also have softspikes. The Glides are spikeless with traditional laces. Both models are also waterproof. I took my pair of Duos out of the box to walk those 18 holes with my son. Conditions were extremely soggy, but my feet stayed dry. Equally impressive, my feet experienced no fatigue or hotspots despite it being only my second round walking so far this season. The arch support and padding are what you’d expect from the best athletic shoes. The BOA lacing system seemed to work a little loose during the first 4 holes, but a quick turn of the dial re-tightened them. And after those first holes, they stayed snug throughout the remainder of the round.

ECCO BIOM COOL PRO golf shoes

Although all golf shoes are becoming more comfortable, ECCO still holds the Number One spot in “Most Comfortable Right Out of the Box.” ECCO doesn’t make the lightest golf shoes, nor the cheapest, but sliding on a pair of ECCOs is one of the great pleasures of the game. The new BIOM COOL PRO shoe ($230) is no exception: it has a wrap-around Gore-Tex design that actively ventilates your feet as you walk. The yak-leather outer is amazingly soft, and the sole features little tunnels running all the way through which make them lighter and “springier” than any previous ECCO model I’ve ever tried (and that’s a lot of them). I wore my BIOM COOL PROS during a hot but beautiful round in the Bahamas in January (before the world shut down), and I could not believe how cool and dry my feet stayed (despite the rest of me getting pretty over-heated). I’m also just going to say that the laces on these things are the most luxurious I have ever tied. (My wife laughed when I said this, but I’m serious.)

Royal Albartross golf shoes

When the name Royal Albartross appeared in my inbox, I had to admit that I’d never heard of it before. Wow, was I missing out! Royal Albartross is a premium golf and lifestyle brand from London that offers handmade golf shoes, belts, and bags. And when they say “handmade,” they mean it. Their products are constructed of the finest Italian leathers and stitched together by craftsmen in Italy and Portugal. The results are exquisite. When I got my peasant paws on a pair of Cutler Greys (199 British Pounds), I literally ran around my house and showed my wife and two kids how gorgeous they are—they even came with their own cloth shoe bag! With leather outsole, insole, and trim, The Cutler represents a brilliant blend of fashion sneaker and spikeless golf shoe fit for the fairways and grill rooms of even the poshest private club. I have taken to wearing them out on walks around my neighborhood during this time of social distancing, because they honestly make me feel better about myself. I will wait to wear them on the course until the vernal pools dry up and, I hope, fellow golfers can get close enough to admire the workmanship.

For now, I hope you can find a few hours of respite on your own home course and some small comfort in a new pair of golf shoes or a box of brilliant white, dimpled pearls. Most of all, I hope you and your loved ones remain healthy. The world and golf have weathered previous epidemics. We’ll find our way back. Be kind to yourselves and to others.

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