You know what’s sustained me through this pandemic? Love. I love my family and friends. I love my job. And I love golf. Without all three of these loves, it would be very difficult to maintain my equilibrium.
Winter is tough where I live. Some years, we can squeeze in a round every month. Other years, it’s just not meant to be. So I rely on televised golf, the indoor simulator at Lake of the Woods Golf Course in my hometown, and deliveries of new golf stuff. Because all I need is love – and GOLF GEAR!
Here’s my 2021 list of lovable and loving gifts for the golfer in your love-life.
AHEAD Golf Polos
Solid, bold polos are great and all, but in recent years, my golf shirts have been lacking some color and pattern. AHEAD offers a full range of colors and designs, from the traditional bold solids to a new line of multi-hued stripes and micro-patterns that will really brighten up the links…once the snow melts. Click HERE for the catalog.
ASICS Golf Shoes
Last year, Srixon/Cleveland partnered with ASICS to produce a line of athletic golf shoes. The inaugural offering was super-comfortable and became one of my go-to shoes in all weather conditions. This year, ASICS has refined and innovated that initial design to produce the GEL-Course ACETM ($150). Once again athletic and sort of reminiscent of crosstraining shoes, the GEL-Course ACE features the best version of flexible, breathable mesh that is still waterproof. Great traction, great versatility, and stable support all wrapped up in a light-weight package. They might get a little muddy, but these will be on my feet the first round this spring.
Swiftwick MAXUS Zero Tab socks
When you get old(er), you learn to love the little things. Like a new pair of socks. A new sock is like a hug for your foot. The Swiftwick MAXUS Zero Tab socks ($15) are low-profile, ultra-absorbent, and super durable, and they come in eight colors. I guarantee a pair of these will be inside those ASICS shoes that first round of the spring.
Nathan Sports Run Safe Face Mask
Personally, the natural social distancing inherent in walking 18 provides me enough piece of mind to not wear a mask while I play. But if you do wear a mask, or frequent the clubhouse or other indoor facilities, a breathable, well-designed mask is a must. The Run Safe Mask from Nathan Sports ($20) works for both golf course walkers and dedicated indoor/outdoor runners alike. It’s made of breathable, sweat-wicking material and has a Quick-Flip feature that allows for hydration and nutrition without removing the mask. Or a beer. I mean, let’s be real here. I’ll be drinking beer through it.
The Clover Whiskey
Or whiskey. I might drink whiskey through the mask, too, especially if it’s cold those first few spring rounds. My absolute favorite golf whiskey is The Bobby Jones Clover Collection, which is a Jones family initiative to carry on the legacy and traditions of Bobby Jones. The collection includes several single-barrel aged bourbons and ryes (starting at about $60), along with a very classy selection of accessories, including tasting and low-ball glasses, and a signature gold clover lapel pin (or tie-tack, if you’re really into the Jones golf tradition). The 4-year old straight bourbon whiskey is 92-proof, but perhaps the smoothest I have ever drunk. I can only imagine how velvety the 10-yar-old is! The flavor profile is vanilla, smoked almonds, and cardamom. The Clover Whiskeys are available in about 20 states so far, and at some of the most exclusive golf resorts and clubs in America (see the website for a list). You can’t buy it online, but you can buy the gift boxes and accessories (starting around $35) if you’re lucky enough to track down a bottle and want to dress it up even further. I cannot stress enough how much any whiskey-loving golfer (or non-golfer!) on your list will love this stuff.
Club Champion Club Fitting
Club Champion is the nation’s premier club-fitter, with 75+ centers throughout the country. They’ve made me a believer. I’ve gone through fittings there myself, as have several friends too, and the level of detail and the sheer amount of information you learn about your swing will astound you. Same goes for the vast array of equipment they can choose from—tens of thousands of head, shaft, and grip combinations. My son did a putter fitting there in December, and he loved every second of it. You can also purchase gift cards at their website.
Breakthrough Golf Headcovers
Breakthrough Golf Technologies have built a reputation on its Stability line of golf shafts. But now BGT is adding some fun into its product line with putter covers ($50) that include catchphrases like “Make my day,” “Say hello to my little friend,” and “Show me the money!” These handmade putter covers come in either mallet or blade design, so they’ll fit most any flatstick. After a couple glasses of The Clover, I do a hell of a Scarface imitation…just saying.
Bridgestone e12 and Callaway ERC Soft and Supersoft golf balls
I don’t know what the USGA will eventually decide about the golf ball. Do pros hit them too far? Probably. But average golfers like you and me need all the distance AND control we can get. So golf ball manufacturers continue to push the limits of physics in terms of both design and materials.
The new Bridgestone e12, available as of February 26, 2021 ($30/doz.), introduces the new CONTACT Force dimple design. A 2-minute video played on a screen embedded in the sample box I received (I mean, how cool is that?) explained the technology as being inspired by Bridgestone tires. The more contact between tire and road, or ball and club, the better the contact and the more control. The dimple pattern is required for lift and also to channel moisture away from the clubface, but the CONTACT dimples both increase surface contact AND maintain aerodynamics. They will be available in white and in an array of matte colors.
The Callaway ERC Soft and Supersoft will be available February 25, and a street price hasn’t been provided yet. Whereas Bridgestone’s innovation is in contact science, Callaway’s innovation comes in the form of chemistry. Callaway has paired for the first time with DOW Chemical to produce a hybrid cover infused with something called PARALOID Impact Modifier. This chemical compound provides the namesake softness in the ERC models while also increasing reactivity at impact, producing longer, higher ball flight.
Titleist Players 4 Plus StaDry stand bag
I’m a traditionalist when it comes to locomotion around the golf course. If I can walk, and the course is walkable, I prefer to hoof it with my trusty push cart. This pandemic has not been kind to my fitness or waistline, however. Toward the end of this past summer, I started leaving my push cart in the trunk and carrying more to get added exercise. Come spring, I intend to continue this practice, so I welcome the introduction of the Titleist Players 4 Plus StaDry stand bag ($290). It weighs in at only 4.2 lbs. (as opposed to 6 lbs. for my current bag), and has fully sealed waterproof construction. There are 8 pockets, a premium double-strap, strong aluminum legs, and improved ergonomics in the 8 pockets. And there are 9 color profiles to choose from.
Sun Mountain Boom Bag
Maybe you’re not so much of a traditionalist? Hey, to each their own. All we need is love, right? So if you’d prefer to drive a golf cart and play some tunes as you go, that’s fine by me, too. Sun Mountain is introducing the Boom Bag ($330) in 2021 – a cart bag with built-in Bluetooth speakers. Aside from the high-fidelity speakers, there are 13 pockets and models with 14-way and 5-way dividers. So now you don’t need to worry about losing your phone or magnetic speaker on the course or leaving it in the cart at return. Just dial up your playlist, sync with the Boom Bag, stow your phone safely in said bag, and hit the tee. Peace, love, and rock and roll, my friend.
So happy Valentine’s Day, 2021. May you find love in everyone you meet and your golf ball no matter where you hit it.