I’ve been playing golf for 50 years, and I’m on my third set of clubs. That doesn’t make me a consumer golf equipment manufacturers are likely to covet. But I still dream.
I’d love to be able to pick anything off the Golf Digest Hot List and see if I’d start burning up the course.
And how about lessons with David Leadbetter that might actually make me better?
Oh, and could I get Tom Fazio to design my own practice holes in the backyard?
But the truth is, as far as golf goes, I have everything. At least that’s what the pro at my club told me when I cashed in my season’s winnings for merchandise in the pro shop last week.
I had a good year that earned me a fleece, a windbreaker, a shirt and a towel, plus a rain hat, which my wife picked out for herself. I consider that a record haul, and none of it involved trying to understand the standings for the FedEx Cup.
But for all you dreamers like me out there, there is always more stuff and for budgets of any size there’s even something affordable.
So, let’s start working our way through a list of gift ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas for the golfer who has everything.
Day 1—A Stimpmeter
For those of you who may not know, a Stimpmeter is a device used to measure and quantify the speed of a putting green by rolling a golf ball down a ramp and measuring the distance traveled. The longer the number of feet traveled the faster… I won’t insult your intelligence.
And guess what? You can’t have one, at least not the USGA’s official model. It is not sold to the public, only to golf course superintendents. But there’s a very reasonable facsimile. It’s called a Speedmeter and it’s made in Canada.
Cost: $65 from Rittenhouse
Day 2—Hogan versus Snead DVD
The original "Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf" ran on television from 1961 until 1970, and it certainly put golf on the world map for its viewers. Episodes were filmed in Kenya, Chile and the Philippines, as well as at American courses like Pine Valley and Pebble Beach.
One in particular was a classic. Played at the Houston Country Club in 1964, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead were both 51. But the two legends left us a timeless exhibition of great ball striking. Hogan hit all 18 fairways and greens and shot a 3-under-par 69, to Snead's 72.
Cost: $20 at Amazon.com
Day 3—James Bond’s Ball—“The Goldfinger Collector's Set—from Penfold with love."
One of the great golf scenes in movie history was the match between 007 and Auric Goldfinger. Despite having his caddy—Oddjob—cheat for him, Goldfinger is one-upped by Bond on the final hole.
Bond’s ball of choice was a Penfold Heart, which became famous instantly in the 1960s, but which Penfold then stopped making for 25 years until three years ago.
Cost: $95 for a dozen from Penfold Golf
Day 4—A Killer Divot Tool
Yes, this is the mother—as in mother of pearl—of all divot tools. It’s spring-loaded and operates like a switchblade so if you’re sticking it in your pocket, make sure you put the safety on first. Just might cure your slice forever if you forget. Comes with a ball marker.
Cost: $600 to $1050 from the William Henry Company
Day 5—The Golf Courses of the British Isles by Bernard Darwin
Bernard Darwin (his grandfather was Charles Darwin) was the first writer ever to cover golf on a daily basis as the golf correspondent for The Times of London for nearly 50 years.
If you’ve journeyed to golf’s home or are considering to, this book, despite being 100 years old, will restore or whet your appetite to play the wonderful courses Darwin describes. The illustrations by Harry Rountree are stunning.
Cost: $2,400 for a first edition from Peter Harrington Rare Books in London or as little as $4 for a Kindle download
Day 6—A Membership in the Walking Golfers Society
The Walking Golfers Society is committed to encouraging golfers to walk, which is how the game was originally played.
Cost: Free at http://www.thewalkinggolfer.com/
Day 7—Garia Luxury Golf Cart
You don’t walk? Then how about a street legal golf cart that will beat most cars off the line at a stop light? It’s called the Garia LSV, and would you believe that it’s from a Danish company and is made in Finland?
Cost: $15,000 or over $50,000 if you want a refrigerator and other options not part of how the game was originally played. Info at Garia.com
Day 8—Louis Vuitton Golf Bag
This is more than a lot to drop on a bag and one you don’t want to let out of your sight at the bag drop either.
Day 9—A Platinum Ball Marker
Has 38 diamonds and will be delivered to your door in a Bentley if you wish.
Cost: $10,000 from TRI Mark Golf
Day 10—Ping 1A Putter
In 1959 Karsten Solheim changed golf forever. In his Redwood City garage he invented a putter different from any every used before. His first models are rare and very collectible.
Cost: Up to $6,500 on eBay, but if you’re feeling lucky check those bargain barrels in golf stores.
Day 11—Exclusive Clubs
The Japanese make some of the best and certainly most expensive golf clubs in the world. One of Japan’s premier manufacturers is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year with a limited production model.
Maruman’s special edition MAJESTY clubs went on sale in September, but you may still be able to snap up one of the 500 sets if you hurry.
Cost: $21,000 for a driver, three fairway woods, nine irons and a putter
Day 12—Three Holes in Your Backyard Designed by Jack Nicklaus
In October of 2008, just weeks before America’s economy duck hooked out of bounds, Neiman Marcus unveiled its celebrated Christmas gifts for the people who already have everything. One of them was the opportunity to hire the Golden Bear himself to turn your little piece of Mayberry into Muirfield.
“Jack will study topography, aerial photos, and landscape maps for the site, then send his team to survey the property. He’ll create a formal design plan and color renderings for up to three holes and a practice area, depending on the size of your back forty.”—Neiman Marcus
Don’t know if there were any takers, but even three years later with more golf courses closing than opening, this still might be the perfect time to take Nicklaus up on his offer.
Cost: $1 million (Construction and site preparation costs are not included, but you might get Jack to play the first round with you like Neiman Marcus promised.)