Blog 79,11/26/10 - Christmas Gift Ideas

I like Christmas as much as the next overgrown least I thought I did. Given that Christmas TV commericals started airing some time in the middle of November, it seems we're already well into the festive season. But I'm just not ready for it!
This Bellingham golfer usually begins feeling the tug of tinsel, the pull of presents, the call of carols and the after-effects of ample Christmas bee cheer in the middle of December, a month after the stores have done what they can to seduce us into their lavish emporiums.
But I've noticed some of my favorite golf web sites have published their Christmas gift-idea lists already - a few weeks ago in some cases. So even though the very idea of creating such a list when we haven't even reached the first Sunday of Advent (this coming Sunday, the 28th, by the way) seems a little premature, if not downright improper, there follows a few suggestions.
Rather than group them all together, I'll give you four or five a day until the first of the month. That should give you plenty of time to either go out and purchase the item in an actual shop, or order it online before Christmas Day (December 25th, by the way). And instead of simply listing three dozen random objects hailed as the ultimate this or that in press releases that make their way into my inbox, I'll recommend items I either own, have tried, or seen in use myself. Every price point will be included, from stocking stuffer intended for a distant cousin, to exorbitant 'main present' bought for your pre-teen offspring who just started talking about how he/she wants to be a pro golfer. 
∑ - This is a 'main present' for a close family relative; probably a son or daughter.
µ - This is a considerable gift, but it didn't quite break the bank. You looked for it specifically - not a whim.
π - Genuinely thoughtful, but inexpensive. You didn't just pick up the first thing you saw.
Ω-  It's a nice gesture and not unappreciated. But you just sort of picked it up while out shopping for something else.

Heavy Wedge 5611
You may recall I tried the 52 degree-loft/8 degree-bounce version a few months back and felt that, although it was perfect for full shots from about 80 yards out, it wasn't versatile enough to handle bunker shots or flops shots. Add this club (left) to the arsenal and you now have most shots from around the green covered. You might also add the 60 degree-loft/4 degree-bounce, or 60 degree-loft/7 degree-bounce version if the superintendent at your course likes to tuck the pins really close to the edge of the green, close to hazards.
MSRP: $109 (this club was released in February so you are very likely to find it for less that the MSRP).
Rating: µ

Callaway Diablo Octane
If Forged Composite really is capable of generating the extra yards Callaway says it will, the Octane's $299 asking price seems like a great deal. That is, after all, $100 less than what you're likely to pay for the FT-iZ. Even so, I don't think anyone will accuse you of going all cheap on them if you chose the Octane. The club is the initial offering from Callaway's collaboration with Lamborghini, and the claimed distance gains are the happy result of turbostratic fibers arranged randomly and which give the material higher tensile strength, meaning it's light but incredibly strong. That should mean the lucky recipient creates greater clubhead speed and hits longer drives than ever before.


Putt Retriever
Yes, this is one of those odd, little attachments you probably only see odd, little golfers use, but for someone with back pain it actually makes a lot of sense as it prevents them from having to bend down and pick their ball out of the hole. All they need now, of course, is something to tee it up, salvage it from water hazards, and retrieve it from Ground Under Repair. Something to block the pain of actully swinging the club would come in handy too.

$10.99 (at
Rating: Ω

Shuksan Memberships

shuksan150If you play 100 rounds of golf at Shuksan a year (some in winter, several in summer, some during the week, several at the weekend), you are: 1) very lucky, and 2) liable to pay upwards of $3,000...unless, of course, you take the sensible option of purchasing an annual pass. For just $1,299 you get unrestricted access to the course - seven days a week, eight-day advance tee-times, USGA handicap, and club membership (unlimited cart is an extra $399).

$1,299 (the limited pass, valid Monday through Thursday, is $799)
Rating: ∑³

The Amateurs (July 2010)
Let me start by issuing a warning - this novel by Scottish writer John Niven is rude, crude, vulgar, and violent. If you're easily offended, you might make it past the first page, but not much further. The qualifier is that it is very funny, and the off-color language paints the appropriate picture - young Scottish folk from Glasgow's suburbs are not among the great romantics and tend not to use Wordsworthian language in describing the glories of an orange and pink sunset for example.
The book follows the fortunes (mis- and otherwise) of Gary Irvine, an obsessed but incompetent golfer who, after being hit on the head by a stray golf ball, awakens from the resulting coma a very able golfer - a very able golfer with Tourette's and another unfortunate 'condition' that forces him to perform very anti-social acts in polite company. All the while, brother Lee, as bad a criminal as Gary was a golfer, is making a hash of attempted drug deals and getting into trouble with local thug/crime lord Ranta Campbell. All the fun comes to a head in the final round of the Open Championship in which Gary is a contender.
Like I say, it's extremely coarse. But if you can get past that, and decipher the sections of phonetic Scottish slang, then you'll probably blow coffee through your nose. And there's a very enjoyable interview with the author in the back of the book conducted by Lloyd Cole (a keen golfer who once rocked the world alongside his Commotions).
List Price: $14.99
Rating: π

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