If your Christmas went anything like mine, you didn’t find any golf-related gifts under your tree, and you’re grateful for it. No $20 “rangefinders” or chocolate golf balls or bargain-bin apparel for this guy — my family knows all too well that the personal nature of the game makes it a lousy fit for holiday gift-giving.
Post-Christmas selfie gifts, on the other hand, are an entirely different matter.
Henceforth, please enjoy canadiangolfer.com’s second annual post-Christmas Golf Gifts to Get Yourself guide.
Sunice Albany rain jacket
Isn’t it time you got yourself a decent rain jacket? If the end of the 2015 season is any indication, 2016 is going to get off to an early, sloppy start, which means you’d better have your inclement-weather gear sorted out.
The 2016 golf line for Sunice is divided into five categories: Rain, Wind, Thermal, Layers and Sportswear. The Albany jacket, a Gore-Tex offering that’s part of the Rain collection, has received a major upgrade, with more robust zippers, improved nylon cuffs and velcro enclosures and a broader palette of colours, all the while still boasting the features that make it one of the best golf jackets on the market — unmatched comfort in virtually all conditions, an innovative fit-adjustment system that prevents billowing and impeccable protection against moisture, wind and the elements.
The Albany packs up light, taking up a minimum of room in your golf bag, but unfurls into an all-purpose jacket you’d be comfortable wearing in all but the chilliest conditions. Add a layer underneath from the company’s Layer collection and you’re good to go in just about anything Mother Nature can throw at you without closing the golf course.
Newsflash: this jacket, which carries a retail price of $439.99, can be found on Golf Town’s website for less than $50, believe it or not, depending on the size you’re after. Trust me, if this isn’t a mistake, this is the deal of 2015. Go get it here, and don’t dilly-dally.
If a lighter layer is more what you’re after, the Allendale pullover from the Layers collection might be one of the last golf garments you ever feel compelled to buy. Warm but lightweight, the Allendale is perfect for those days where it’s too chilly for shirtsleeves but not quite nasty enough to justify the bulk of a rain jacket.
Sunice bills the Allendale as a best-seller, and with good reason: it’s comfortable and thin and versatile, whether standing alone or fitting in underneath a Rain or Wind layer, and looks great on and off the course. In 2016, it’s available in four new colours: Scarlet Flame, Toxic, Charcoal and Aquarius (red, yellow, black and blue).
Carnoustie golf shirt
$88 at carnoustiesportswearonline.com
When was the last time you bought yourself a really nice golf shirt? We’re not talking fundraiser freebees or clearance-rack crap here, but top-shelf apparel with soaring-high thread counts, high-tech fabrics and fits that feel like they were custom-tailored. After all, good golf starts with feeling good on the golf course, and it’s hard to play your best when you’re uncomfortable or self-conscious about how you look.
Carnoustie Sportswear’s performance polos for the 2016 season include all the features you’d expect from a premium golf brand: spandex construction to improve fit, wearability and comfort, moisture-wicking and odour-reducing fabric treatments, UV protection and easy wash-and-care characteristics.
But perhaps most importantly, they’re the sort of silky-smooth golf shirts — made from a fine micro-polyester fabric — that make you feel like you belong on the first tee the moment you slip one on, as opposed to those cheap multi-purpose Gap cotton polos that you’d be more inclined to wear to clean out the garage than you would for an important 18-hole round. You wouldn’t wear your sneakers to an important business meeting, would you? So why treat your weekly round any differently? If you’re like me, it’s the most important four hours of the week — you should dress accordingly.
“All performance fabric is not created equal, and we made a considerable effort to fundamentally understand man-made fibers,” Carnoustie chief executive Marshall Mancillas says in a release.
“We knew we had to offer a technical product that was commensurate with our reputation in cotton. Many variables contribute to the feel, drape and technical characteristics of performance garments, and we only offer the finest quality available — using only the best micro poly available and always blending it with generous amounts of lycra, for just the right amount of stretch and wearability. Our customers like that while much of the styling is responsive to today’s trends, our shirts still evoke a classic, timeless and refined aesthetic.”
Translation: these shirts fit well, and fit right, without making you feel like you’re swimming in extra material or showing off a pear-shaped midsection. Look to the Solid Performance Polo category for some basic solid colour choices around which to build your golf wardrobe for 2016.
Arccos game tracker
$299.97 at bestbuy.ca
OK, I’ll admit I was skeptical about the Arccos system and its boastful claims about seamless, interruption-free tracking of your game. Surely a Blue-tooth based system like Arccos was fraught with peril, expecially out on the links, I thought. But I dove in, and after ironing out a few unsurprising kinks, I’ve come to rely on the Arccos system to such an extent that I’d sooner leave my driver in my trunk than play 18 holes without it.
First, a primer: small battery-powered sensors, each about the size of an $8 stack of loonies, attach to the butt end of every club in your bag and then sync once to an app on your iPhone (sorry, no Android love just yet). You use the app to access the Arccos course library, loading a satellite-photo map of the course you’re playing (the wide selection of Canadian tracks might surprise you).
From there, it’s super-simple: every time a club sensor registers a shot, it uses the GPS map to locate it on the course. Every subsequent shot that’s detected by the system is used to map the round, giving you a surprisingly accurate and reliable blow-by-blow account of your round, for posterity.
A caveat: it’s not perfect; a certain degree of post-round editing is almost always required, as the system can’t always quite distinguish whether you’re hitting your ball out of a greenside bunker or from right next to one, or whether or not that ball resting near the fringe is on or off the green. Documenting putts is also an adventure with the extra-sensitive putter sensor, especially with a new app upgrade that allows users to manually add putt lengths. But once you get the hang of the system, it’s indispensable. Anyone who’s ever wanted to chart their rounds and statistics, but found the documentation part a time-consuming chore, will find Arccos a welcome addition to their golf bag.
Arccos makes playing the game fun. It can provide honest and accurate yardages for your longer clubs, and is invaluable in calibrating distances for your short game (but be careful to weed out the chips and half-shots lest they end up skewing your yardages). And if you’re the kind of player who’s on on the course alone from time to time, it’s an invaluable companion.
Zepp swing tracker
$129.99 at bestbuy.ca
What Arccos does for playing the game, Zepp does for those marathon practice sessions between rounds, or during the winter when you’re hitting into a net and unable to assess ball flight. A small Starburst-sized sensor clips on to the player’s golf glove and syncs via Bluetooth with the player’s iPhone or Android-powered device. Once calibrated, the sensor maps hand speed and path, using that to calculate everything from clubhead speed and swing plane to tempo and backswing length. Even the app will measure hip turn if the phone is located in the right front pocket.
Zepp uses the data from your practice sessions to evaluate your swing metrics and recommend specific custom lessons in whatever area it sees as needing improvement. In this department, Zepp perhaps aspires a bit too high; after all, there can be no viable substitute for a properly certified golf pro looking at your swing and providing explicit, customized instruction. By itself, the data is invaluable; using it to push generic, one-size-fits-all video lessons back to the user is perhaps a tad too ambitious.
Users will also find that if they make a minimum of 30 contact swings a week, Zepp will send a weekly “progress report” that includes a Rick Smith video drill based on what the data suggests is the player’s biggest weak spot. The lessons are largely what one would expect for working on things like swing plane and tempo, and the whole notion of pushing “customized” lessons is a bit hackneyed. It’s also a bit odd, considering how much Zepp’s marketing focuses on ‘instant results,’ that the system waits until Mondays to send along its report.
The app itself can be very counter-intuitive to navigate; finding specific swings within practice sessions takes some getting used to. It also requires users to manually tell the system when they’ve changed clubs, making its use on the golf course more trouble than it’s worth (compared to the set-it-and-forget-it approach of Arccos). A putter setting would also be a nice addition, since the system seems custom-made to map out one’s putting stroke.
But if you’re a golf geek who’s paying attention to things like smash factor and ball speed, or who already knows what to work on and wants an accurate, reliable system to track progress, Zepp is the gadget for you — especially if you’re forced indoors and hitting balls into a net during the cold winter months.