Another Christmas rolls along and the golfer in your life waits nervously to discover what gifts await under the tree. Kevin Markham offers some options
Pádraig Harrington, at Dunnes Stores: There is a growing array of Pádraig Harrington apparel at Dunnes Stores these days, from knitted tops, socks, and chinos to softshell jackets and gilets.
There are 22 items in all and you’ll find them at the 145 stores around Ireland. There really is no excuse if you’re running out of ideas. Try the Blue Quarter Zip Funnel Neck, which is created from a cotton-blend for a sumptuously soft way to layer up on the golf course. Price €35. www.dunnesstores.com
The Caddy Guy: It’s great to see some Irish innovation in golf clothing. The Caddy Guy offers an exciting clothing line including shirts, beanies, caps, gilets and jumpers. What sets this Co Kerry company apart is the focus on natural materials. The Caddy Guy is the only Irish brand to use bamboo as it is the softest textile on the market, extremely durable, flexible, and biologically beneficial. Several golf clubs — including Ceann Sibeal, Galway Bay, and Killarney — are stocking the garments. James Sheehy runs the company, and his clothing range continues to grow. www.thecaddyguy.ie
Most golf clubs will provide green-fee vouchers of some description, so if someone you love (or just like) has a hankering to play a particular course, phone up the club and ask what vouchers are available. In the meantime, here are a few suggestions.
Mount Juliet: The home of next year’s Dubai Duty-Free Irish Open offers a range of gift vouchers should you feel inclined to encourage the golfer in your life to play the Jack Nicklaus-designed Mount Juliet. Or how about lessons? There’s a special offer that may add a little flavour: there will be a gift included for the first 30 x 1 Hour Trackman lesson vouchers purchased through Mount Juliet’s golf shop.
Contact the shop on 056 777 3071. For the 2020 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, May 27-31, tickets are already available with prices up to €95. A pass for access from Wednesday to Sunday costs just €83. Tickets can be sent as an email PDF making it the easiest Christmas gift to wrap. www.eventbrite.co.uk.
Fota Island: Fota Island has a stream of 12 Days of Christmas offers with golf very much to the fore. Academy membership plus four lessons for €800 offers a saving of €200. Alternatively, for €120, you can purchase two green fees with clubhouse burgers. At summer rates that’s a saving of €155. There are plenty of gift vouchers available too. Contact 021 488 3700.
GUI National Golf Academy: The Academy at Carton House has numerous packages available for golfers looking to improve their game. There are long game and short game clinics, half-hour and longer lessons and, of course, monetary vouchers for those who want to choose exactly how they spend their time. There is a special offer running at the moment: Two Hour Clinic, One Day Pass and Half Hour Lesson. This consists of three elements: 1. Choose from one of the two-hour Group Clinics (Trackman Long Game Clinic or Trackman Pitching & Wedge Play Clinic or Greenside & Bunker Play Clinic); 2. Work on any part of your game with a 30-minute private lesson with an Academy Professional; 3. Enjoy a full day of practice at the Academy with unlimited range balls and short game area access. Visit bettergolf.ie, call 01 5054040 or email email@example.com for further details — Cost €100 (a saving of €90).
FORE Golf: For the best club custom fitting around, Fore Golf at Killeen Castle has established a worldwide reputation. If you want to get golfers into the swing of things, you could start by purchasing an online voucher.
Buy the One Hour Custom Fit voucher which reviews a golfer’s clubs for €100, provides a performance comparison of new custom clubs against the golfer’s existing set and uses TrackMan4. Alternatively, the 30-minute Single New Club session is a treat for the golfer looking to work on one club (excluding the putter) that isn’t hitting the high notes. The voucher costs €150 which includes a €100 deposit towards purchasing a new club. Purchase it on your phone and have it emailed to your inbox. How easy is that? Visit www.foregolf.ie/shop.
Links & Lakes Spring Championship, March 27-28, 2020: This two-day tournament sees golfers playing Dooks and Killarney (Mahony’s Point) golf clubs. This is a great way to get a group of golfers together — or even one golfer — to experience two of the superb courses in Co Kerry. Packages range from golf and dinner (€120pp) to golf and DB&B accommodation (€299) at Killarney’s four-star Castlerosse Park Resort. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book.
Seed Golf: The only Irish producer of golf balls, Seed Golf has been extending its range this year. A new golf ball has been added (the Pro Yellow SD-01 features an ‘Adularescence Fluorescence’ cover finish, which may prove invaluable in the snow!) and a few extras have also joined the line-up: beanies, baseball caps, a flat cap, and tee bag are now available, costing from €7 to €20. On the golf ball front, Seed Golf provides golfers with a high-quality ball that can be purchased online in innovative ways. Boxes of a dozen cost between €10 and €25. www.seedgolf.com.
The Irish Putter Aidhm – R-Series Blade Putter: Back in 2014, Master Clubmaker Peter Doyle had a vision of creating Ireland’s first bespoke putter brand. By 2018, he had produced his second-generation Aidhm putter, the R Series Blade.
Aidhm (pronounced “I-AM”) comes from the Irish word meaning “To Take Aim” and is a Tour Grade putter head which is CNC-Machined from one block of carbon steel. This ensures an unprecedented feel and consistency. What’s more, you are buying Irish. www.precisefitting.com. For prices, contact Peter on 051 644 721.
Sunwise Shades: It may not feel like quite the right time of year to be putting sunnies under the Christmas tree, but a golfer needs to protect his or her eyes. The Sunwise Blenheim Black sunglasses are perfect for any golfer. Unique polarised lenses help eliminate glare and the sunglasses are lightweight and strong. The Polafusion lenses are designed to improve your play and will make greens easier to read while also making it easier to follow your ball in flight. Made in Britain, you can buy them direct online, or try Halpenny Golf or Gleeson Sport Scene in Limerick (www.gleesonsport.ie). sunwise.co.uk. Cost €80 approx.
Shoe Joy: At the other end of the scale we have Irish weather in winter (and the rest of the year …) when wet days and wetter shoes are guaranteed. The Drysure Shoe Dryers absorb moisture quickly thanks to silica oxide beads which are placed inside a foot-shaped holder. No heat, electricity, or batteries required as the beads absorb the moisture from the moment the dryers are inserted. They last between six and 10 uses before they need to be reactivated, by putting them in the oven. Cosy! www.amazon.co.uk Cost €30
Relive The Open Championship: Relive the memories of one of the greatest Irish victories in Open Championship history by purchasing something branded with the Royal Portrush Golf Club crest. Shane Lowry winning on Irish soil lifted the nation, so give the golfer in your life a lift with any number of high-quality products … from head covers and ball markers to caps, shirts, and sweaters. www.royalportrushgolfclub.com/store/.
In The Bag: Buying a lightweight golf bag can be a significant motivator for the golfer who prefers not to lug a big bag and trolley around when nipping out to play a few holes. The Jack White canvas bags take up to eight golf clubs and come in various colour combinations. They can be made to order, too. They can be bought online by visiting www.jackwhite-gullane.com. Cost €120 approx, plus shipping.
The Perfect Strike: New to the market this year and the winner of Best New Product at the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show, in Florida, AcuStrikeGolf is a golf training aid. It is remarkably simple and inexpensive (compared to the many other training aids out there), and it gives golfers instant feedback on their ball strike and swing path. This will enable golfers to make instant changes and help them understand their swing. Buy online www.acustrikegolf.co.uk Cost from €50 approx.
Stamp On It: I was given one of these earlier this year and all of my golf balls are now adorned with an indelible stamp of a green shamrock. With over 150 designs, you shouldn’t need to worry about playing the wrong ball ever again, and your mates will just think you’re applying lipstick. www.irelandgolfballs.ie. Cost from €9.95 (free shipping).
Bioflow Sport Flex Wristband: The Bioflow Sport Flex Wristband is chosen by many of the world’s leading athletes as an integral part of their training and recovery programmes. This durable, waterproof silicone wristband incorporates a patented Central Reverse Polarity magnet technology and is designed to improve blood flow, help reduce inflammation and restore the body’s own natural pH levels by assisting the removal of free-radicals. It all sounds quite complicated, but Lee Westwood describes the band as “a valuable part of my game”. Bioflow Sport conforms with the highly regarded Medical Devices Directive and has approval as a Class 1 Medical Device in Europe. www.bioflow.com/eu/ Cost €30.
Volvik V1 Laser Rangefinder: Volvik may take the prize when it comes to brightly coloured balls (think Bubba Watson), but now they’ve extended further into the golf world with the launch of their new Volvik V1 Laser Rangefinder. Available in orange or mint, the rangefinder has quite a few extras including a ‘Slope Compensation’ mode which takes elevation changes into account. It also has a six times magnification and measures distances from 5 to 1,200 yards. Waterproof and lightweight, golfers will have no excuses for coming up short. www.amazon.co.uk (ships to Ireland). Cost €230 approx.
Several books came out this year with very different characters at the heart of them. The biggest cheat in the game — allegedly — is the subject of one, while another focuses on the greatest golfer of all time. See if you can guess which is which.
Commander-in-Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump, by Rick Reilly: Reilly has played golf with Donald Trump. That should be enough to make this book authentic, but Reilly has gone digging and found some intriguing stories. Trump claims to have won 18 club championships — all at Trump properties — and yet one championship was at a course that hadn’t even opened, while another was won on a day when Trump was playing golf somewhere else entirely.
When rocker Alice Cooper was asked who the biggest cheat in golf was, he said: “I played golf with Donald Trump one time. That’s all I’m going to say.” www.books.ie. Cost €16.99.
Tiger Woods, by Jeff Benedict: Probably still the most recognisable face in sport, Tiger Woods has experienced a career of the highest highs and the lowest lows. This is the full story of his life and it’s of the warts-and-all variety.
Jeff Benedict is a New York Times bestselling author, a special features writer for Sports Illustrated, and a television and film producer. It’s available from Eason, Cost €15.40.
The Meaning of Golf, by Craig Morrison: Morrison offers a wise and witty journey into the world of golf. Tiger Woods is the subject of one chapter, Tom Watson — in an exclusive interview — is the subject of another. The presidents of the United States have a chapter to themselves, too. Anyone interested in the game of golf, its history, its great champions and championships should love this book. Craig Morrison has previously written, produced, and published two other golf books, 18 Greatest Scottish Golf Holes and 18 Greatest Irish Golf Holes. Available on www.amazon.co.uk. Cost €12 approx.
The Golf Lover’s Guide to Scotland, by Michael Whitehead: Universally regarded as the birthplace of the modern game, Scotland can boast some of the finest courses in the world.
This guide offers the golfer everything they need to enjoy a great round of golf at the best courses Scotland has to offer. You will find all the essential information you need here — par scores, yardage, prices, booking procedure, history, and how best to play the course. www.pen-and-sword.co.uk. Cost €14.