Travelin' Joe's Last-Minute Holiday Gifts for the Traveling Golfer
Whether you're in the market for a last-minute holiday gift or simply want a new toy for yourself, here are four indispensable items for the traveling golfer in your family that show you care.
1. Ready Caddy's Portable Golf Cart Organizer
Once in awhile, a product comes along that yields the hand-to-forehead thump, as in "Why didn't somebody think of this sooner?" The Ready Caddy Portable Golf Cart Organizer is exactly that.
Count me as one of many who have experienced the frustration of tossing keys, wallet, sunscreen, cigars, cell phone, yardage finder, etc. into the dim recesses of that small dark space in the front of a golf cart. Inevitably, that space is wet or dirty, or so inky black that you wind up leaving items behind at round's end. The Ready Caddy solves that problem.
The Ready Caddy Portable Golf Cart Organizer is pretty simple. It's a device that comes with two felt-lined compartments to hold just about anything you'd otherwise keep in a pocket or in a separate bag. It attaches to the cart's square-shaped roof support post via clamps that are provided with purchase. It sits just above steering wheel height, making for perfect access. Of course, you've got to remember to remove it when you depart, but once you've got the hang of that, you'll wonder how the heck you ever survived golf road trips without one. The Ready Caddy will roll out in late January at the PGA Merchandise Show.
Prices start at $19.95; readycaddy.com
2. Garmin's Approach S1 GPS Watch
It's no secret that I'm a confirmed Garminista. I swear by Garmin's nuvi1690 GPS portable navigation device for vehicles that helped guide me to golf courses all over the U.S. I'm also partial to their Approach G5 GPS yardage tool for golf course use. New this season from Garmin is the latest technology tool for golf, the Approach S1 that you wear on your wrist. It's so easy and so effective it can't miss.
The Approach S1 functions as a lightweight sports watch, but comes pre-loaded with yardage data on more than 14,000 courses in the U.S. and Canada. When it's time to play, the display will spit out yardages to the front, middle and back of the green. There's also an alarm function to help with those early morning tee times, or, God forbid, seriously slow play.
I hadn't been much for wearing a wristwatch while I played, but after observing Phil Mickelson's success with timepieces, I figured it couldn't hurt. As it turns out, it takes about one hole to get used to. The result is the confidence that comes from accurate yardages and the overall benefit of seeding up play. Now that's a gift that everyone will love.
Prices start at $249.99; garmin.com
3. True Links: An Illustrated Guide to the Glories of the World's 246 Links Courses
Authors George Peper and Malcolm Campbell and principal photographer Iain Lowe are a trio of gentlemen who know their way around golf courses and links courses in particular. This beautifully illustrated compendium of the world's seaside layouts is the best book about golf courses you'll find this year. What makes it especially appealing is the introductory material where the authors debate and define what make one course a links and another one not. Their reasoning is both instructive and persuasive.
To be fair, the individual course write-ups aren't as analytically compelling as what Darius Oliver did in his "Planet Golf" book a few years back, nor are they depicted with the kind of passion Jim Finegan employs in his books on Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales. Nevertheless, True Links is a marvelous celebration of the greatest golf experiences to be found on the planet. You'll spend many happy hours with this book.
Prices from $40.00
4. Mr. Hogan, The Man I Knew: An LPGA Player Looks Back on an Amazing Friendship and Lessons She Learned from Golf's Greatest Legend
The surprise book of the year for me was this sentimental story of the hitherto little-known relationship between LPGA Tour player Kris Tschetter and golf's greatest ballstriker, Ben Hogan. Written by Tschetter, in collaboration with veteran scribe Steve Eubanks, Mr. Hogan starts off like so many others of its ilk, with seemingly misplaced adulation for golf's greatest curmudgeon. Mr. Hogan this, Mr. Hogan that. Most of what I know about Ben Hogan was that he was a grouch of colossal proportions. Through her work habits and personality, Tschetter melts the Wee Ice Mon to reveal a humanity in him I had no idea existed.
Tschetter and Eubanks do a nice job of establishing credibility and laying the proper foundation for how this unlikely friendship came to be. However, the strength of the book lies in Tschetter ultimately acknowledging Hogan's perception problems and documenting a few classics that gave Hogan his fearsome reputation but making clear that warmth and honesty can overcome many of life's relationship barriers. Without hammering you over the head with schmaltz, Tschetter's account elicits emotion about, and even sympathy for, Hogan without deifying him. Take this on your next airplane ride and the time will go by quickly.
$22.50; Gotham Books, penguin.com
5. 2011 Emerald Gems Calendar
The next best thing to traveling to the Emerald Isle and playing its greatest courses is looking at photos of those incredible layouts. Nobody does the links of Ireland prouder than photographer Laurence Casey Lambrecht. Back this year with the annual Emerald Gems Calendar, Lambrecht Photography provides 12 monthly stunners that will have you daydreaming for hours-or else surfing the web in search of the best deals on golf in Ireland. Classics such as Ballybunion, Lahinch, Doonbeg and Waterville share the year with cult favorites like The Island, Dooks, Rosapenna and Carne. No matter how your week is going, you'll treasure every day.
$13.95 plus $4.00 S&H; golfstock.net, 888-569-3729