Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening — is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year? — but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of various tribes (we’re calling them the Hard-to-Shop-Fors) to find out exactly what to get that serious home cook, skin-care Redditor, or gamer in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust — or at least a very helpful starting point.
Best golf tech gifts
For dads who get a little stir crazy in the winter when they can’t play golf, Steve McMillan, founder of product review site TheGolfingDads, recommends this indoor launch monitor. More affordable than other simulators, the PhiGolf comes with a sensor to put on your club and it links up to your smartphone or TV. Dad can get data on each swing’s speed, path, and estimated carry distance that’ll help out his game come spring.
If you really want to spoil dad, get him this top of the line gizmo that’ll impress his buddies — and improve his game. “It is the most technologically advanced range finder on the market,” says Joe Ostrowski, director of golf at Golf & Body NYC. “It not only tells you how far you are away from the flag, but it overlays an image of the green in the scope to tell you how far it is to the back and front of the green.” It’s expensive, but not too crazy if you make it a group gift with other family members.
This tiny yet mighty portable speaker will let dad and his golfing pals jam out as they play. “Strap it on to your bag or golf cart for powerful crisp music all round,” says Alex Schiff, operations shift manager at Golf & Body. “This slick speaker is rugged and waterproof.”
Best golf apparel gifts
Buying clothes that work with dad’s golf style can be tricky, so McMillan suggests leaving it to the experts and getting him a subscription to Short Par 4. The monthly box includes seasonal apparel from top brands like Puma, Under Armour, and Callaway. “Instead of figuring out what size someone is, you can give them a gift card,” he says. “And they’ll get new clothes every month.”
Unlike clunky spiked golf shoes of the past, this new knit pair — McMillan’s favorite — is comfortable enough to wear all day (before and after dad’s round) and look like stylish sneakers. He says there’s “space age proprietary stuff in the sole that makes them like a Tempur-Pedic for your feet.”
Best golf accessory gifts
According to McMillan, most golfers don’t change out their grips nearly enough, which can lead to poor traction and decreased performance, so a set of grips can be a good gift to give dad annually. The Lamkins are McMillan’s favorites.
Golfers can always use more balls and Thomas Bopp, the golf academy manager at the Golf Club at Chelsea Piers, says the Titleist Pro V1 is the “best ball in golf by the most prestigious golf equipment brand, [and] the most popular among touring professionals.”
Golf dad Bob Sutherland told us that one of the best things any golfer could ask for would be “any device that could possibly seriously improve your game.” His pick was this practice club with a hinge in the center. “You swing the club in perfect tempo and the hinge doesn’t release. A quick jerky swing puts a right angle in the club.”
Best golf book gifts
A Columbia Business School professor brings statistical insights onto the links in this book that came recommended by two golf dads. Richard Swette, a usability analyst, says, “I do analytics and this thing is a masterpiece.” Bopp also likes this strategy book for its focus on the various elements that go into your score.
If inclement weather has dad stuck inside over the winter, a good golf book can be almost as good as a good round. Bopp says these titles are “must-reads for a golf fan who wants the inside story of some of the most important events in the history of golf.”
Best golf bags to gift
It may be pricey, but McMillan says British company Big Max Golf “makes the best waterproof golf bag I have ever seen.” The reinforced zippers and seam-sealed pockets ensure that his clubs will stay dry and protected. Busy dads will take any opportunity they have to get out on the course — so don’t let a little rain stop them.
A celebrity golf dad’s pick
Good Morning America host Michael Strahan told us about a golf gift any golfer would love: “If you golf, you know that when you’re slicing the ball and can’t make good contact, it’s not fun at all. This is a set of three little sensors that you hook onto either side of your hips on your belt, and then at the end of your club. Then, through an app on your phone, it’ll tell you when you’re leaning too far into it or if you’re dropping your shoulder, or what have you. Amateurs or pros — which is what I consider myself (that’s a joke) — can benefit from it. It’s amazing. Now you don’t even have to have all the cameras hooked up to check your form.”
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