Here we are, the few weeks a year that I'm actually popular. (Well, the way I define "popular.)
Dozens of calls, emails, tweets, Facebook queries, texts, etc....all asking the same thing: "Hey John, what do I buy the golfer in my life?" (Incidentally, these requests are never about what they'd like to buy me...but I digress)
PGA.com will offer a plethora of GREAT ideas, very popular gifts, in our wide assortment of holiday gift guides. You're really not going to go wrong with a new set of clubs, a driver, a putter or a nice shirt or three. These lists have been put together by some of the finest minds in golf. But just between you and I, here's a listing of some items that won't get that much attention but your favorite golfer would love find under the tree (or wherever) come holiday time.
Best inexpensive but oh so worth it gift: ($20-$50)
Mittens: Wait, what? Actually, yes, I'm being serious here. As cold weather descends upon us - keeping the hands warm is critical for golf this time of year. But you want keeping them warm to be easy and quick. The amount of time and effort to get your hands in and out of a good pair of mittens is a fraction of the time it is for bigger gloves. They are always a "hot" seller at your local golf shop. Trust me, this one's an easy call.
Best gift that could change their game: ($100-$250)
Pull cart: Before you tell me this is an "old man" gift...let me remind you, I'm old. No, but seriously.... Walking the course is an immensely enjoyable aspect of golf that so many miss out on. Many who walk claim it's the only way to play. Understandably, some simply don't because they are physically incapable. But the purchase of a pull cart (some are even motorized) allows the golfer to enjoy the walk without having to lift and/or carry the clubs during the round. It will reinvigorate the love of the game for many. I've recommended this purchase many times over the years. Every year, the same response has come back. "Thank You, he/she loves it."
Best gift they don't have but should: ($50-200)
Rain suit: "No thanks," I hear you say. "My ____ doesn't play golf when it rains." That's bull. Why? Well, 1.) They don't always know when rain is coming (I don't even care if they are a meteorologist. Actually, especially if they are a meteorologist.) And 2.) Why let a little rain stop you from playing a game you love? Hey, it's an outdoor sport...and battling the elements is supposed to be part of the challenge. Every golfer, I repeat...EVERY golfer, should have a decent rain suit.
Best money is no object gift: ($40,000-$50,000)
Golf simulator: There is no substitute for the fresh air and nice breeze, the smell of freshly cut grass and the satisfaction of fixing your ball mark a few inches from the cup. But man, these simulators are getting close. If you have the coin and the room, these "virtual reality" bays are great teaching, practice and to a great extent, playing tools for the golfer who just can't get enough.
Best gift to make a good gift a great gift: ($60-200)
I said I was not going to remark on golf shirts. I lied. Because there is one way to make a good gift (a golf shirt) a great gift: Put an impressive event logo on it. Want unique and cool? Get them a Gleneagles Ryder Cup 2014 shirt or jacket. It's a can't miss.
Best gift that keeps on giving: ($30-$200)
Commemmorate their golf life: Peg boards, ball racks, custom tee collectors; anything that a golfer can use to archive and show off all the golf courses that they've played. Golf is about experiences, memories. Showcasing them not only provides historical context to one's golf life but also provides incentive and goals for future golf. I have both ball racks and a peg board. I study them, plan on how to add to them, celebrate the acheivements they represent. Trust me, this is a no-brainer. Every golfer needs one.
Best lifetime memory gift: ($2000-$5000)
A Bucket List trip: There is not a golfer in America that wouldn't love, love, love to open a little box and see a couple of plane tickets, receipts for tee times and a hotel confirmation that sends them to Pinehurst/Pebble/Bandon/Kiawah, etc. If you want to win the greatest gift ever award (and this is an actual prize I think) - this is it.
The very best gift - bar none: ($34.99-$1000)
A better golf game: Whether a sign-up to a Get Golf Ready program, a subscription to the PGA Digital Golf Academy, a one-hour lesson or five-lesson series with a PGA Professional, or even a three-day trip to a great golf school - the single best gift (yes, I know I'm kind of contradicting the Bucket List trip) any golfer can get is a better golf game. Becoming a better player is the gift that lasts a lifetime and facilitates more enjoyment of every other gift and includes dozens of other opportunities. It simply does not get better than that.
Wishing you and yours the greatest gifts over the holidays...and even more importantly, a safe and loving time with those you love the most. Looking forward to a great 2014 with each of you.
Feel free to tweet your suggestions for great gifts to John Kim on Twitter (@johnkim). Or better yet, send him great gifts at....