What can I buy for a golfer at Christmas? What is the best golf gift for the holidays?
Golf clubs, by way of golf gift, are too dangerous by far… I'm talking drivers, irons, putters... Golf clubs – these days – are seriously expensive. More than that, they’re often fitted specifically to the player. You just can’t buy custom fit clubs online… It doesn’t work that way.
Golf balls for golf gifts? Don’t do it. Golfers have their own preferences and one can never be sure…
Golf accessories for golf gifts? Who really wants a leather wallet with a pencil holder and an ill-fitting slot for a scorecard? Skip it.
Golf apparel makes a passable present for a golfer? But who knows someone else’s sizing, their fashion preferences? If you’ve got to do it, don’t go for mainstream golf brands. Just get ‘em a Uniqlo sweater.
An IOU for a game of golf? That’s a great golf gift. If you’re a member at somewhere glorious, somewhere the average golfer can’t simply stroll up and play, then just scribble on a Christmas card the promise of a game at Sunningdale, Muirfield, Augusta National or the number one golf course in the world (by most standards), Pine Valley. Or even if you're not a millionaire member at some swanky club, an invite to your home course is going to be greatly appreciated!
Golf art’s good: an original or a print for the office or man cave (do people still have man caves?) Trouble is, a lot of golf art is, well, it’s less than artistic. So go easy. Be thoughtful.
How about a beautiful golf book? Not so long ago I was selling books I produced and published which New York Magazine called ‘the most beautiful golf books in the world’, 18 Greatest Scottish Golf Holes and 18 Greatest Irish Golf Holes. But they’re rarities these days, which makes them remarkable presents, highly collectible, but makes them almost impossible to get your hands on.
There’s no doubt about it, great gifts are tough to find. But what are the greatest gifts?
My wonderful friend Jason once gave me a Divine Comedy album – Promenade – and a Belle & Sebastian album – The Boy with the Arab Strap – along with a mug from Starbucks, the one with the Edward Hopper painting, Nighthawks, on it (we’d worked together in Starbucks in Vancouver circa 1992 and he came to see me in England in 1996 bearing these gifts). I still love the Divine Comedy. I live and die by Belle & Sebastian. And I drink daily from that same mug, more than 20 years later. So they were pretty good presents by any stretch of the imagination…
David Bowie was known to give decent gifts too… Who has ever given a better present than All the Young Dudes, the song he gave to Mott the Hoople? (Apparently they turned down Suffragette City, perhaps my favourite Bowie song! But hey. He didn’t care. He just sat down and wrote them another one. The guy was a saint…)
In fictional terms, Humboldt’s Gift was a good one too. In Saul Bellow’s novel the copyrighted screenplay is one of the greatest gift anyone could receive. Bellow didn’t play golf. But the guy could write. And he took up contempt and rage, the critics said, like other old men take up golf (which is a good line).
Bellow’s admirer, John Updike, did play golf. His greatest character, Rabbit Angstrom, understood little of life (it sometimes seemed) and less of golf (it seemed too), but collected in the excerpts which make up much of Updike’s excellent book, Golf Dreams, we have a golf gift for those who play the game and appreciate literature, especially if they can accept that Updike might be les significant than Bellow, and that his work (politically and behaviourally) has dated a little.
But enough of random, esoteric stuff I might like… The best gift for golfers, the most thoughtful thing you can buy, the most meaningful gift of all for Christmas, for the holidays, for anytime in fact, is of course this little paperback, The Meaning of Golf. No doubt it will date too. In fact, I released it in digital format, as an ebook, in late 2017. And just two years later, in 2019, it needed some revision, some updating. The world changes fast. Tiger Woods – for example – goes into decline but then his greatness is such that he stages something of a miraculous recovery. And so The Meaning of Golf was updated late in 2019 to reflect this and much more besides.