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Christmas golf gifts: Something for every male golfer, new and old

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

Shopping for Christmas gifts for male golfers is both simple and difficult. Simple in that there are a million products out there; difficult in that there are a million products out there.

Alpha Golf V5 Hi-COR hybrid
Alpha Golf's V5 Hi-COR hybrid is designed especially for higher handicaps.
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Alpha Golf V5 Hi-COR hybridNike Juice 312Nike SP 5.5 LXThe Search for the Perfect DriverChristmas Golf GiftSun Mountain's Superlight 3.5 Bag
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How to choose? Here are some suggestions to help narrow it down:

Golf clubs

What, your husband or boyfriend doesn't have any hybrids in his bag? That won't do. Hybrid golf clubs are one of those recent inventions that actually live up to the hype. They're easier to hit, and many top manufacturers are making good ones. Check out Adams (adamsgolf.com), which has just come out with a new set of Pro hybrids to go with its earlier A2 and A2 OS models.

Alpha Golf's V5 Hi-COR line (www.alphagolfclubs.com) is another safe place to turn if you're just getting used to these clubs (or buying one for someone else). The V5s, priced at around $100 each, feature a titanium face that is deeper than many hybrids, as well as a pronounced draw-biased face-angle.

Golf balls

Titleist Pro V1 golf balls are still a can't-miss stocking stuffer, the old reliable.

Or cash in on the cool cachet of Nike by giving the gift of the new Juice 312 golf balls ($28/dozen), which promise "ginormous" and "hugantic" distance, dude.

Golf apparel

Nothing is more tedious than trying to jam all of your gear into your golf bag. Sun Mountain's Micro J wind jacket ($54) actually comes in a jar, and can be rolled back up and stored in the tennis-ball-can-sized container to save on space and tedium.

There's a bit of a fashion war brewing among golf shoe makers who are racing to replace the old-fashioned saddle shoes with designs you might wear out in the evening. Ecco is the leader in stylish golf footwear. The New Classic City (www.ecco.usa.com, $150) and World Class City GTX ($400) lines are the dressiest.

Nike's SP-8 TW Tour shoe (www.nike.com, $220) is the pinnacle of the company's new SP line, all of which feature the Power Platform technology. The sole is partitioned into quadrants to allow it to flex and bend with the foot as the golfer moves through various positions during the swing. In addition, the sole is a bit wider in the heel, to promote increased stability and balance.

Accessories

Go ahead, laugh - but how many times have you headed to the wrong cart? The trick is to get head covers that are instantly noticeable and recognizable but not ridiculously embarrassing, like, say, chocolate zebras with light pink backgrounds. Check out the Corona or St. Andrews logo head covers from Only Golf Gifts (onlygolfgifts.com, $20).

Ogio has been redefining the dour golf bag for a decade now, and the new Vision SS carry bag with the Schling carrying system (www.ogio.com, $200) is both functional and radical. The Schling replaces traditional shoulder straps with a sort of semi-circular yoke that rests around your shoulders. After you get used to it, it's surprisingly comfy and convenient.

The Sun Mountain Superlight 3.5 carry bag (www.sunmountain.com, $150) is the absolute lightest golf bag on the market, perfect for young, still-growing backs. Yet at just 3.5 lbs., it still has all the pockets, bells, and whistles you need to stow your gear, along with some of the sturdiest flip-out stand legs in the business.

A good range finder is a worthwhile gadget, especially when you play strange courses with hard-to-find (or nonexistent) yardage markers. Top optics companies Bushnell (bushnell.com) and Leica (leica.com) have won praise for their versions. SkyCaddie (www.skygolfgps.com) is another favorite.

How many times have you gotten your golf ball confused with someone else's? Don't fuss with colored pens; a golf ball monogrammer is a more efficient way to mark your balls. G-Stamp has a machine that can imprint up to four initials, in four colors (gstamp.com, $20).Gadget Bargains has one that looks like a nut cracker (gadgetbargains.com/delgolbalmon.html, $24.95) and Wilson makes one you can pick up for 10 bucks on Amazon.com.

Golf books, more

Club-maker Tom Wishon has followed up the success of his first book, The Search for the Perfect Golf Club, with The Search for the Perfect Driver (Sports Media Group, $23). Wishon leads the reader through a running Q&A session with an imaginary golfer, detailing the physics and engineering of the modern driver, and delving into driver specs for juniors, seniors, women, and advanced players. If you're unhappy with your driver, do not buy another one until after you've read this book.

Miami photographer Ray Alonso was struck by how a golf course can resemble the female form. With this as inspiration, he created The Bare Essence of Golf calendar. The photos are tasteful, artistic nudes of women on golf courses, well worth hanging on your wall (thebareessenceofgolf.com).

Jessen Media's map of top U.S. golf courses (jessenmedia.com, $169) includes 100 top courses and comes in a mahogany frame.

For the golfer with everthing

With an air-conditioned golf cart, the golfer in your life won't have to come home drenched in sweat and smelling like a goat. Golf Air from Wagner's 12 Volt Air (wagners12voltair.com/index.htm, $2,495), powered by the cart's battery, can turn an ordinary cart into cool comfort.

A cheaper alternative is CoolWell's G2 (coolwell.com, $500), which uses ice to chill the air (and your beverages). Mountable on most carts, it can be turned into a heater at the flick of a switch.

For those golfers who are really serious about practicing - or about appearing on BadGolfer.com's video of the day, Sony (www.sonystyle.com) has developed a line of camcorders that do not require tapes or discs; all footage is transferred to an internal digital memory. The camcorders in the DCR series ($600-$1000) are thus perfect for taping your swing and then immediately downloading it to your computer, where you can do all sorts of video analysis even without additional expensive instructional software.

Golf fitness

Fitness is all the rage in golf, especially "core" strengthening. Check out the Balance Ball by GolfGym (www.golfgym.com, $35). The ball and other fitness equipment designed specifically for the golfer are offered along with workout DVDs ($20 each) narrated by Katherine Roberts, golf fitness guru to the stars.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.


 
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