In my family, the three U.S. majors all marked significant annual observances. The Masters fell around my dad's birthday and the PGA Championship around mine. And, of course, every year the U.S. Open wound up on Father's Day.
It was always fun trying to pick out a golf gift for my dad, even if it was a challenge to come up with something truly useful for a golfer who had everything. If that's your predicament, here are some ideas to consider from a golfer who has everything and who's probably old enough to be your father…
One advantage today's gift buyers have is the tremendous selection available on the Internet from online stores. Perusing their site, here are some of the items that rang my bell.
Gifts Under $50
For me, the days of hoofing it with a bag on my back are largely over. Cart golf is the norm. The biggest problem with that comes on rainy days when keeping myself and my clubs dry is much harder in a cart. A great aid is the Drizzle Stick. It stores in the bag like a club, but when rain starts the telescoping shaft and canopy are quickly deployed to shield the top of your bag and keep those grips dry. It's also a lot handier than those canopies on the back of some carts that just spill water everywhere when you try to grab a club. The Drizzle Stick is $11.95.
Age and the stress of raising a child like you can result in a veritable panoply of pains, aches, and recriminations. The Trion:Z Minus Ion Bracelet, reviewed here, may help your dad deal with all of them. It combines minus ion material with two magnets to yield what is claimed to be the most powerful product of its kind. It definitely has found a following amongst PGA Tour players so it comes with a modicum of cool factor. It's $19.95 and comes in a variety of color combinations.
Izzo Trunk Locker
Playing as many different courses as I do and not having a locker at any of them, by mid-season my car trunk begins to resemble the bottom of my wife's closet. Shoes, hats, balls, gloves, and rain gear seem to take over and relegate the clubs to the front seat. Things might be better if I had the Izzo Trunk Locker. It has compartments for three pairs of shoes (a full third of my complete wardrobe), plus space for all the stuff it takes to play that you don't necessarily take on the course. I mean, where do you keep your spike wrench? If your dad's a pack rat, it might just be the ticket. It's $39.99.
Callaway Bag Watch
I hate to wear a wristwatch when I play. Of course, if I were paid as much as Phil Mickelson to wear a Rolex, I could get used to it pretty darn quick. Still, it's useful to watch time slip away as you slog through a five hour round. More realistically, it's helpful to know when to leave the practice range to catch your tee time. The solution is a watch like the Callaway Bag Watch that can clip to your belt loop or your bag. It's $49.95.
Gifts Under $100
Breakmaster Digital Greenreader
There's a saying in sports that the legs are the first to go. Wrong. It's the eyes. Trust me. And with presbyopia comes a diminished ability to read the subtleties of greens. While illegal as sin in the eyes of the USGA, the Breakmaster Digital Greenreader might be a useful crutch. Just lay it on the green and it gives you the direction and degree of slope. And while it is verboten during official play, there's nothing to prevent your dad from using it to map greens and make notes that he could use during a match. It's $59.95.
Ball Display Rack
If you play any length of time, you play a bunch of different courses and outings. Invariably you begin to accumulate logo balls. The problem becomes what to do with them all. Wall racks require wall space, hammering, nailing, and a definite commitment to room décor that will probably require the reluctant consent of your significant other. A nifty alternative might be a couple of ball display racks that hold 18 balls and 36 balls. They can sit on a desk or table and don't take up much space in the process. The 18-ball version is $59.95 and the 36-ball version is $74.95
Maybe it's because I'm a bag junkie, but I always thought those miniature golf bags called den caddies were pretty cool. Whether you use them as wastebaskets, umbrella stands, or dust collectors, they just scream, "golf nut!" You can easily find them in three flavors: Cleveland, Callaway, and Bridgestone. The Bridgestone model has a front panel that can be embroidered. They range from $59.95 to $69.95.
Momentus Swing Trainer
It's amazing how age tightens up muscles. You'd think after all the years of use and abuse they'd get the message and loosen up a little. While the Momentus Swing Trainer is billed as a swing improvement club, I think its chief benefit is as an exercise and warm-up device. It's just heavy enough to get those golf muscles stretched out with regular use. And before a round, I like to swing it out in the parking lot before I hit the range to warm up. You can find them for $79.95 or so.
In the End…
While trinkets like these can all add to your father's golf accoutrements, you might consider cashing in some of those frequent flier miles for a weekend golf getaway to Myrtle Beach, Pinehurst or, if you're especially flush these days, Pebble Beach. But even if it's just a round at your usual club, know that the time you spend with your dad on a course will always be remembered… by both of you.