Thursday's Game, Tiger DVD top the list of mandatory golf gifts
Posted: Friday December 17, 2004 3:35PM; Updated: Friday December 17, 2004 4:43PM
Ah, the holidays. Sleeping late, overeating and long, idle afternoons with the remote -- what more could a grown-up boy or girl ask for?
One December vice, however, has a redemptive upside, helping to atone for our annual fortnight of winter sloth. That, of course, is racking up profane amounts of credit card debt buying gifts for loved ones.
And here's the best part. Because those January billing statements are so imprecise, no one's going to notice if you sneak in a few gifts for yourself!
With that in mind, I present my top-five holiday must-buys. Included are treats for him, for her, and even for golf-obsessed tots.
1. Generally, I don't like golf books. Most are just overgrown magazine articles, padded out with page upon page of filler. But this year delivered an unexpected surprise: Tom Chiarella's Thursday's Game. Chiarella is the best golf writer you've never heard of -- unless you read Esquire, Links or Washington Golf Monthly, magazines to which he regularly contributes. This book collects recent articles, which range from ruminations on afternoons with his regular foursome, to think-pieces on pros like Sergio Garcia and John Daly (the latter of which is essential reading). What holds the book together is the easy, meditative rhythm of Chiarella's prose, which somehow seems closely related to hitting balls on the range. Available at most bookstores, on-line booksellers, and through its publisher at emmisbooks.com.
2. Despite being excessively overhyped, the new Tiger Woods authorized DVD collection is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Yes, there are some clunky inclusions. For example, there's way too much soft-focus footage of Tiger hitting balls on the range. And Celine Dion's braying about how "sexy" he is will befuddle the kids, and make adults wonder who invited her to appear. Nevertheless, there are plenty of previously unreported anecdotes, and watching that swing for 12 hours (despite its recent short-circuits) can't be bad for your game. Available pretty much everywhere -- in fact, there's probably a guy outside your door right now waiting to sell you a copy.
3. My biggest disappointment this year was the demise of Cyclonic Shoes, makers of the coolest men's golf footwear I've ever seen. (Buy up the remnants while you still can.) Yet coincidentally, a woman's brand arrived that's every bit its equal, and also offers the game's most fashion-forward sportswear. Jamie Sadock spent 11 years as a designer at La Coq Sportif and Calvin Klein, and her kicks and duds reflect that background, combining functionality with haute-couture snaziness. Nowhere else will you find such sure-fire smile inducers for lady golfers. Sold at resorts and on-line retailers; the best e-tail selection is at theladiesproshop.com
4. For a long time, I was a 12-putter-a-year guy, someone who tried to cure an atrocious stroke by buying an unending series of new flatsticks. But this year brought a long-overdue discovery, the See-More putter. True golf junkies will remember that the See-More was the putter with which Payne Stewart won the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst. They'll also know that its selling point is a little red dot on the blade that, when aligned with the shaft, ensures the blade is square to the target. I was reintroduced to the See-More by Tour rookie Zach Johnson, who putts lights-out with his model; the one I bought has now been in my bag for an unheard-of six straight months. Even if you don't want to take one out on the course, the See-More is an invaluable training aid. Available by e-tail and retail, but lie and length preferences are best satisfied at http://www.seemore.com/.
5. I'm not going to tell you what driver is right for you. That's a fool's game, because golfers vary so widely in swing speeds and launch conditions -- and because retailers and pros are nowadays pretty good at giving you a better idea of what make and model is right for you. But if you're a mid- to high-handicapper, and you insist on buying something off the rack, you owe it to yourself to try one of Cobra's new drivers. Three of my regular six golf buddies are overjoyed with theirs, and you know how hard it is to find a golfer who doesn't have some kind of complaint about his or her driver's behavior. The two I've hit -- the 400 SZ Tour and 450 SZ Tour -- have been plenty explosive, and both come standard with high-quality Fujikura shafts. The "Comp" series have composite (graphite-titatium) heads, and are slightly more forgiving; the faces of non-"Tour" models are slightly closed, and better for chronic slicers. Available at most all golf shops and e-tailers.