For over a decade, I’ve been writing a Valentine’s Day Golf Gift Guide. But realisticly, that’s not a day for golf gifts.
What should be a holiday though, at least for those of us with green running through our veins and visions of birdies dancing through our heads, is Masters Week. If you live in a colder climate, this is the start of golf season. You wait all winter for the televised panorama of azaleas and dogwood, of verdant fairways and roaring patrons. Your heart flutters when you hear Jim Nantz intone, “Hello, friends.” I mean shivers, amirite?!?
This. This is when we should be buying gifts. Doesn’t matter if you’re buying them for yourself or for others. Time to restock, retool, re-enter the world of sun and fun and golf. So if you’re looking to treat yourself or someone else to some new swag for a new season, here are a few of our top suggestions.
Sun Mountain Speed Cart V1R
I don’t know about you, but this pandemic has been hell for my physical fitness. Walking the golf course a few times a week is the best chance I have for exercise, and a quality pushcart is key to getting in 14,000 steps while saving my back and shoulders. The Speed Cart V1R ($270) by Sun Mountain is updated for 2022. The V1R opens and closes with the flip of two levers. It has an ergonomic storage console and a headcover basket, is available in 10 different colors, folds down to W 37” X H 16” X D 13”, and weighs just under 18 lbs. When folded, the V1R is long and narrow – perhaps a bit too long for many sedan trunks, but ideal for a pick-up or SUV. And it fits perfectly in full-sized golf course lockers. This is probably the smoothest-rolling cart I’ve ever used. It feels like your bag is floating down the fairways.
FootJoy FUEL and Field Golf Shoes
Along with a great pushcart, a summer of 18-hole walks requires some comfortable shoes. My very first pair of golf shoes were FootJoys – leather, metal spikes, and no padding. For a couple years, I associated golf with blisters and pain. But shoe technology has come a long way since the Taft administration, and FootJoy has redefined comfort while maintaining its spot at the top of the golf shoe pyramid. The FJ FUEL ($130) is new for 2022. Available in men’s, women’s, and junior’s sizes, the FUEL has a sneaker-inspired design that features the StratoLite foam compound. These shoes cradles your feet and weigh practically nothing.
The FJ Field ($200) is the newest addition to the FootJoy Premier Series. It will be the most-worn shoe in this year’s Masters, so you know the quality is second to none. The spikeless outsole is constructed of multiple compounds to provide both traction and stability, and the OrthoLite insole is luxurious—ideal for protecting the feet of the best golfers on the planet. Don’t you deserve both timeless fashion and modern comfort, too?
Cole Haan ZERØGRAND Overtake Golf Shoe
Iconic shoemaker Cole Haan is expanding its golf offerings in 2022. If your footwear tastes run toward styling reminiscent of crossfit or basketball shoes, the ZERØGRAND Overtake Golf Shoe ($150) is for you. Superb traction and comfort are guaranteed, and the mesh bootie inner lining hugs your feet and wicks moisture away from them. These shoes really feel like a second skin.
Galway Bay Vests
Luxury golf outerwear leader Galway Bay is introducing a new line-up in April, 2022, just in time for the Masters. If the golf season where you live can bring some unpredictable weather, this new collection will help keep you dry and warm. I have no idea yet how much anything will cost – in fact, actual photos haven’t even been released yet. But I’ve seen the concept drawings of the vests, and I’m a sucker for a cozy, stylish vest. So keep your eyes peeled come April.
Bushnell Phantom 2 GPS
Whether you walk or ride, having a handy, quick, light GPS will help you routinely choose the right club. The Bushnell Phantom 2 GPS ($130) is the lightest, most compact GPA device that is also easy to read and easy to keep track of. Numbers are large and easy to read, providing front, center, and back of green yardages. There’s also a green view mode with moveable pin placement. Best of all, the integrated magnet locks the Phantom 2 firmly onto any ferrous surface on your pushcart or golf cart.
My son’s summer job for a couple of years has been as cart boy at the local course. If he had been allowed to keep and resell all the sunglasses he found in carts, he would have made more than he did from his actual pay. The point is, people spend lavishly on sunglasses and then lose or break most of them. Enter Tifosi, maker of high-quality, stylish shades that you don’t want to lose, but you can afford to lose—and replace—if that’s how your day goes. Tifosi’s newest model is the Swank XL ($30), which has classic “Wayfarer” styling in six different frame and lens color combinations. If you’re into more of a wrap-around look, the Crit, Veloce, and Seek FC models ($50) all feature the Enliven Golf lens, especially designed to accentuate contours and contrasts on the course.
Circle 15 Golf Glove
Circle 15 Golf is the brainchild of PGA Tour Pro Chris Smith (whose family owns the hidden gem Rock Hollow Golf Club in Peru, Indiana). Circle 15’s flagship product is The Genesis golf glove ($25). According to Smith, the golf gloves that pros wear on tour are nothing like the ones amateurs buy in their pro shops – until now. The suppleness and thickness of the sheepskin leather is like no other golf glove you’ve ever worn. At present, the Circle 15 website says The Genesis is sold out—and there is a very good reason for this: it is honestly the softest, most form-fitting glove I’ve ever put on. They do seem to run a bit narrow, though, so keep that in mind when deciding on your size.
Balls, balls, balls: Titleist, Srixon, Bridgestone
I have two traditions for the start of the golf season: Clean my clubs and replace all the old balls in my bag (which have been frozen solid all winter in my car trunk—I know, I know) with brand new sleeves. 2022 is a big year for golf balls, with all my favorite companies introducing upgrades of their respective popular models.
Titleist is most famous for the ProV1/V1x models, but their lower-priced balls, geared towards various amateur players, boast the same top-tier quality control and consistency. The Titleist Velocity ($30/doz) is geared toward squeezing the most distance as possible out of your long clubs while maintaining acceptable greenside feel. On the other end of the spectrum, Titleist’s softest ball is the Titleist TruFeel ($25/doz). It still generates distance, but its real strength is exquisite feel and control around the green. Finally, the Titleist AVX ($50/doz) is a 3-piece performance ball that produces low spin and low ball flight with tremendous greenside control If the ProV1 is made for pros, the AVX is for the scratch handicappers at your club.
My first review of Srixon golf balls—which appeared some 15 years ago—introduced them as the best ball whose name you can’t pronounce. Today, Srixon has become a household name amongst avid golfers between their high-quality equipment and their high-profile sponsorships on Tour. At the top of these high-profile Srixon staffers is Brooks Koepka, who plays the brand-new Z-Star Diamond ($45/doz). The Z-Star Diamond is a 3-pc Urethane ball, with high greenside spin, mid driver spin, and mid-high iron spin. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better all-around balance in a golf ball. The redesigned Q-Star ($28/doz) is a low-compression ball for higher handicap players who want all the benefits of a premium ball without the premium price tag.
Maybe the most aggressive ball marketing campaign this season has been rolled out by Bridgestone. The Tour B Series (all $50/doz) consists of four ball models, with one model in two versions. I may hold a PhD, but it’s not a PhD in material science, so I have no idea how to differentiate these high-tech pearls. The best heuristic I can come up with is to think about each of the various balls’ properties in terms of the Tour pros who play them. The Tour B X has been designed in consultation with Bryson DeChambeau, and he and Matt Kuchar play it on Tour. The Tour B RX is played in competition by Lexi Thompson. The Tour B RXS is played by Fred Couples. The Tour B XS was designed with input from Tiger Woods himself, and Tiger plays it in competition (well, limited competition, so far). And finally, if you REALLY want to feel like Tiger when you play, pick up a box of the limited-edition Tour B XS – TW Edition, stamped with the “TIGER” name. After Bridgestone introduced these last year, you’d see the occasional Twitter post by people who found them at their local courses and were convinced Tiger had played there!
Everyone Here Is From Somewhere Else, a novel by Jeff Wallach (Open Books)
For evenings after a round, or rainy days when you can’t play, a good book like this is a must-have to start off a new golf season. Jeff Wallach has written for a dozen national magazines on topics ranging from finance to golf and travel. His previous novel, Mr. Wizard, introduced Phillip and Spencer Elliot. His newest novel centers around the physical travels and existential expeditions of these brothers after the death of their intrepid mother. Wallach weaves together scenes both humorous and poignant, along with evocative descriptions of Irish golf as the Elliot brothers come to terms what their mother wanted for them and what they want for themselves.
There you have it, friends – all you need to embark on another summer of golf. Enjoy the Masters, and may every bounce be favorable.