From a few days playing the western Algarve’s finest to resilient golf tees made from bamboo, there’s no shortage of Christmas options for the creative purchaser, writes Kevin Markham.
Yes, this is really pushing the boat out but who wouldn’t like a golf holiday in The Algarve. The Onyria Palmares Resort has 27 holes that slide down to the sea just east of Lagos, in the western Algarve. The boutique Beach House Hotel overlooks many of the holes and it’s a wondrous sight.
The course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr and it is just as stunning, possessing three nines of different flavours, including a links loop that is bisected by a railway line. This is one of the lesser known regions of the Algarve, and yet the course has received numerous accolades and has much to offer with the town of Lagos alongside. The riveting Espiche Golf Club is nearby, making this a fabulous golfing destination.
Various packages are available including a three-night B&B rate with two rounds of golf and a double room with balcony and sea views. Cost for three-night package starts at €326 per person sharing.
Between range-finders, lasers, GPS watches, and handhelds your golfer is spoilt for choice, assuming he/she likes that sort of gadgetry. Every year sees devices getting better with increased functions and technology. Ideally, ask before buying as these gizmos can be pricey: the Bushnell Pro X2 laser costs over €500.
Garmin Approach X40 GPS Golf Watch and Activity Tracker
The X40 provides precise distances to the front, middle and back of the greens, as well as showing hazards and doglegs. The watch comes preloaded with over 40,000 golf courses and includes free lifetime course updates.
There is also the AutoShot game-tracker, which automatically tracks your shots and measures distances. At the same time, it tracks your heart-rate to provide accurate information on calories burned. That shank into the woods probably burned more calories than you expected, eh!
The X40 doesn’t finish there, though, as it has a Smart Notification function which allows you to receive texts, emails, calls, and social media alerts on your watch. Compatible with iOS and Android (version 4.3 and onwards), PC and Mac. Cost €215 www.halpennygolf.com
The Caddy Guy
The Caddy Guy sprang to life on St Patrick’s Day, 2016. This innovative and exciting clothing line is the brainchild of James Sheehy, who is styling shirts, beanies, caps, gilets and jumpers in Kerry. What sets the 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 it. Sheehy’s range is growing and this Christmas you can benefit from a discount across the package bundles in the online shop, using discount code SANTA. www.thecaddyguy.ie/shop.html
Yes, this was available last Christmas as well but now you can feel far more victorious when you purchase items on the rydercup.com website. Many are now on sale, with discounts of up to 50%. Golf shirts, shoes, gilets, jackets, jumpers… there are some lovely styles to choose from and it seems that every brand imaginable appears on the site.
Nike, Footjoy, Peter Millar, Adidas, Lacoste, Galvin Green… Not everything is covered by the discount (Peter Millar Boxer Shorts still cost €30) and some sale items are reduced by marginal amounts but you might find something – from sunglasses and luggage to clothing, waterproofs and teddy bears – that reminds the golfer in your life of Europe’s thumping victory over the USA. The website says that orders over £50 are delivered free anywhere in the world.
Rock Solid Apparel
Rock Solid Apparel is a new Northern Irish clothing brand. The company only launched in late 2018 and the name and logo are inspired by the rocks on the north coast of Ireland. Currently, Rock Solid are offering trucker caps and beanies with an additional range of colours arriving on December 3. Down the line, there are plans to introduce polo and t-shirts. At present Rock Solid are selling directly through FB messenger (@rocksolidgolfapparel), Twitter DM (@rocksolid_golf) and Instagram DM (@rocksolid_golf).
The brand’s Christmas offer for caps is €20.95, and beanies cost €17.95. Both include European delivery. And check out the hashtag #lookfeelplayrocksolid on social media.
Seed Golf Balls
Seed Golf is making headway in the golf ball market. That’s quite a feat for an Irish company which started in July 2017, and is based in Co. Carlow. It’s important to note that the company’s first ball (the SD-01) has been selected to be Official Ball of the PGA EuroPro Tour (which visited Tulfarris in 2018) and has been approved by the USGA and R&A. The company has just launched its fourth ball – the SD-02 (The Pro Plus). 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.
Why not gift golf balls to someone who might very well be in desperate need of same. You simply choose which of Seeds’ balls you want to give, and for how long, and Seed Golf will dispatch accordingly. Cost €10-€25 www.seedgolf.com/gift-balls/
Magazines and Catalogues
‘Catalogue 18’ is in the early stages of development so this is your chance to get in at the ground level, so to speak. Halfway between a magazine and a catalogue, this is all about golf imagery from around the world… specifically, golf courses.
Bold, professional and striking imagery will fill what will be a 300-page large format (32cm x 23cm) biannual publication of beautiful photographs and illustrations. Many of the world’s best golf course photographers have contributed and the first edition will include Pinehurst No 2, Cabot Cliffs, The Loop, Doonbeg, Nordic Europe, Adelaide, Coachella Valley and many more. It’s the perfect coffee table publication that will undoubtedly move around the house as golfers will find it hard to put down.
Pitched as ‘The world’s most beautiful golf magazine’ it is currently raising funds through Kickstarter.com. This is a crowd-funding site which means that the company is raising money to make the magazine a reality. By backing the project you pledge to purchase the catalogue (for yourself or as a gift) once it reaches its financial target. If it fails to raise the target amount you lose no money.
The price of your support starts at approximately €20 (Usual price US$60) which entitles you to a copy of the catalogue and free delivery… which is due in January 2019. Cost from €20.
www.kickstarter.com (type ‘Catalogue 18’ into the search bar)
A Course Called Scotland, by Tom Coyne, was published by Simon & Schuster during the summer. Following his walk around Ireland’s coastline over a decade ago, Coyne pursues another epic adventure in Scotland, as he plays 111 courses in 57 days. His ultimate goal is not just to play these great courses and, ultimately, discover ‘the secret of golf’, but also to qualify for the Open Championship. A Course Called Ireland was a tribute to the pain and hardship of walking Ireland’s coastline and, of course, the joy of the golf courses, the moments he revelled and despaired in, and the hospitality he encountered along the way. His new book is just as insightful, filled with history and stories and playing partners of all shapes, sizes and personalities. It is, perhaps, a more mature book than its predecessor and reflects a writer who has realised just how rich life really is. Cost €20 www.thebookcentre.ie
As comebacks go, this was the one millions of golfers were hoping for. Tiger is back and this new book, Tiger Woods, takes an in-depth look at golf’s most intriguing superstar, burrowing into every facet of the legend’s life and investigating his unique background. Authors Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian look at how Tiger Woods became Tiger Woods and it applauds his victories and strips back his frailties, digs under the skin of his upbringing and dissects the roles his parents played in his life. Published in 2018, by Simon & Schuster, it takes a new look at golf’s greatest ever player. Cost €24. www.thebookcentre.ie
How about a small and smart box from Mount Juliet that you can place under the Christmas tree? One of Ireland’s finest parklands has put together three different packages… one of which will undoubtedly catch your eye.
1. A 60-minute Trackman Session at the Paul McGinley Golf Academy costs €100 and the recipient will also receive a free Academy gift.
2. Buy any golf voucher for all-year-round usage and the golfer receives a complimentary gift. Cost €110.
3. Or sign up for a nine-hole lesson, for €150, and the golfer also receives a free gift.
www.mountjuliet.ie (or call the Golf Shop on 056 777 3071)
Stretched around Fermanagh’s elegant lakeland, which gives this course so much of its beauty, Lough Erne has some Christmas packages which are certain to keep golfers happy. A gift voucher for one hour of golf tuition at The Golf Academy includes full use of slow-motion video capture playback and Flightscope Technology to really improve a golfer’s game (£50).
Alternatively, take it up a notch with the 18 Hole Play and Lesson: a PGA professional will accompany the golfer on The Faldo Course for a round to give instant feedback and consultation. There will then be a follow-up at a date of the golfer’s choice with a 30 minute video analysis lesson in the golf studio. (£150).
GUI National Academy
The GUI National Academy, based at Carton House, has an impressive offer on this Christmas. For all those golfers looking to kickstart their golfing year on a positive note the Academy is offering a two-hour clinic (short or long game), a half-hour private lesson and a one-day practice pass to the on-site facilities, which includes unlimited range balls and full access to the comprehensive short game area.
The normal cost is €180 but this Christmas it’s reduced to €100. Clinics commence in January 2019, with booking available from January 7, 2019. Contact 01-5054040 or email email@example.com quoting the voucher code. (Note: This package cannot be redeemed all on one day, given the different elements.) Cost €100.
Not straying too far from the GUI National Academy, Carton House Golf Club has set up a Christmas shop in the hotel lobby. A variety of golf gifts are available (among all the Carton House produce) and you can expect a ‘World Amateur Team Championships’ flavour to things as the golf tournaments were held at Carton House this summer.
And then there are the extras, the gizmos and the fun stuff.
Under Armour ColdGear Golf Gloves:
Finding gloves that are both warm and practical has always been difficult. Until now. Under Armour ColdGear Golf Gloves use the brand’s ColdGear technology which not only retains body heat but also wicks sweat away from the skin, ensuring the wearer remains dry, warm and comfortable. The palms provide superior grip and the look is completed with the Under Armour branding. Buy a pair and warm the heart – and hands – of that special golfer in your life. Cost €21. www.ie.sportsdirect.com
Skelligs Chocolate Golf Balls:
There are certain golf gifts that always make it onto a list like this… and onto the radar of individuals desperately striving to find a golf gift that doesn’t cost too much. Skelligs Chocolate Company in Portmagee have created a gift box of three handmade milk chocolate golf balls that ticks plenty of boxes. Available online or at any of many stockists around the country. Cost €5
Yes, tees. It may seem that tees are the last desperate choice as a golf gift, alongside socks and chocolates, but Ocean Tees are something rather different. They’re not plastic for starters. Ocean Tee Golf is environmentally-focused with the company donating 25% of its profits to UK charities involved in marine protection, specifically those targeting plastic pollution. These tees are made of bamboo and are stronger and more flexible than traditional hardwood tees. . Each recyclable matchbox contains 40 tees, 70mm in length. Slip the box in your golf bag and no golfer needs to go digging for tees ever again. Delivery to Ireland will be at a fixed fee of £4.50 for up to 10 boxes. Cost £4.99