We rounded up the best golf gifts, because the sport, long the bastion of leathery Bourbon-soaked Boomers, is losing some of its country club patina. Golfers are taking to local munis in streetwear. Tie dyed socks on the driving range. T-shirts! At the golf course! Coaches wear flat-brimmed hats. Golf is…cool now?
And, like so many other outdoor sports, golf saw a massive surge in 2020. But the socially-distanced COVID bump wasn’t a fluke. After a 25% increase in rounds played in 2020, Americans teed it up in droves again this year with an 8.4% increase over last year’s spike. It’s not time to turn all those munis into affordable housing yet.
And perhaps someone you’re close to has gotten obsessed with golf and you’re looking for the perfect holiday gift. You should know first of all that golfers are a persnickety bunch—there’s an ocean of useless crap being sold to golfers, and arcane distinctions of style that won’t make sense to anyone who doesn’t play themselves. Know also that buying clubs is an individual adventure. No swing is the same. Clubs should come from trained professionals who know what they’re actually talking about at pro shops, not Santa.
But you can still nail golf gifts. Rather than take advice from a hacker like me, I called up Andrew Haynes, the executive creative director at Fairgame Golf, where he also hosts a podcast with 2013 Masters champ Adam Scott. He’ll get whoever is on your list (or yourself!) sorted out from head to toe.
A Grip of Golf Balls
“It sounds a little lazy, but no person that’s passionate about golf is ever going to turn down copious amounts of golf balls that’ll get them halfway through the season,” says Haynes. “I think the biggest thing there is: if you’re going to buy that for the person, make sure you ask exactly what they play and don’t just get them a box. Get them a couple boxes. Get them four boxes! It’s almost like when your boss gives you a Starbucks gift card or a Blue Bottle gift card for a hundred dollars. You’re like, Oh, this will come in handy. You’re not like, Holy shit, this is great! But you’re not mad at it. I play a Taylor Made TP5. Not a TP5X. I do tinker a little bit here and there, but the TP5 is the one I restock on Amazon. Lower spin, softer cover.”
A Fresh Bag
“I just got one as a gift for myself,” laughs Haynes. “MacKenzie did a very small collaboration with this brand out of the Midwest called Sentinel. It’s got this modern kind of technical material. It’s just a different material and it has this modern, but still kind of classic feel to it. There are some people that want to look a tour player: bag with a big logo, polo with a big logo on it. I just like to keep it low key.”
Covers to protect your clubs tend a little corny: College football mascots, that sort of thing. But Haynes points out there are new companies making these in rad colors and patterns: “I like a mismatched-but-matched vibe for my headcovers, where there’s a bit of a theme. My current mix is grays and blacks, but they’re different materials and different textures. I have some Seamus ones—they use great materials, I love them.”
Golf Pants That Work at the Office
“Over the past few years I have been buying less and less traditional golf stuff to play in, and all of the pants that I play in now are Lululemon,” says Haynes. “I love their pants. Great cut, great material. If you sweat, you’re great. If you don’t sweat, you’re great. They don’t look like overly techy pants. It’s the perfect ‘I’m going to wear these pants to work and then I’m going to change my shirt and go play golf’ pant.”
A Fresh White Polo Shirt
I love wearing a collar. I like the look of it. But if I’m playing a muni or I’m going out to Marine Park [in New York] at five o’clock, I won’t tuck it in. I’ll just wear a polo and let it fly,” says Haynes. “I think the biggest thing there is finding a polo that doesn’t feel too sporty. I have a couple from Todd Snyder that I wear. It’s just good classic menswear stuff where it’s like, I can wear it to work and I can wear it to play golf. It’s low key stuff for golf that’s not ‘golf stuff.’”
“When I started playing golf, I was diehard Nike. Any sneaker version of a golf shoe, I would always wear that. Over the past few years I’ve gone more classic, and I actually just bought my first pair of FootJoys recently. I think those are dope because you can dress them up or down. If you want to wear them with shorts and an untucked polo, it feels dope. And then if you want to go full fancy country club kid, a they look nice too.”
A Really Good Hat
“Golf hats are tough, because I think most golf hats suck,” says Haynes. “I don’t want to wear something with a giant logo like Titleist or whatever. So most of the hats I have are simple dad hats. Some of my favorite hats are from Saturdays, the surf brand. Really fun hats, not a lot of branding.”
Like golf balls, gloves are a that any golfer would appreciate a re-up of. “I use the FootJoy StaSof most,” says Haynes. “If I want to ball out, I’ll get the Pure Touch just because it’s super soft, but I’ll bang through those really fast and they cost more.”