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These gifts will be par for the course with the golfer in your family

November 13, 2007|By JEFF YINGLING

So, Christmas is coming and you don't know what to get for your favorite golfer. Let's see if I can help you. Much depends on whether you like to touch the items you purchase, or whether you are comfortable going online to do your shopping. But before we go to where to buy, let's take a look at some ideas for gifts.

Some of the more obvious - and also less expensive - items would include your golfer's favorite golf balls, golf gloves (make sure you get the right size), golf shirts, rain gear, hats, club-head covers for collegiate and pro sports teams and other accessories.

In case you hadn't noticed, golf has also gone high-tech. If your favorite golfer has ever found himself deep in the rough with no way to tell how far it is to the hole, some of these items would help.

If you don't mind parting with some cash, take a look at the current offering of range finders and GPS units. If you haven't seen or used these devices, you are missing out. Both range finders and GPS units are now legal to use under the official rules of golf.

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Range finders use specific focus points that the user aims at to calculate distances. These are great if you have a steady hand and can find a defined object to aim at. On the other hand, GPS devices use satellite technology to give you distances to various spots on the course. The better units have hundreds of courses already measured and included in the system. Even better, if your course isn't included, you can measure it yourself. This is really a simple process of picking your spots and beaming to the satellite. I've seen these used and the accuracy is truly amazing.

If you are thinking about clubs, be careful. There is a lot more to picking the right club than you might think. If clubs are a consideration, be sure to find out your golfer's preferred brand, which model and what type of shaft he/she prefers. This applies whether you are buying individual clubs or a whole set. If you are not familiar with golf, you need to know that the shaft and type of club head are very important to every golfer. A gift that could provide golfers a good opportunity to improve their game would be to give a certificate for lessons, a swing analysis and/or club fitting. I hope you caught my article on club fitting in the Herald-Mail supplement on "Big Boys and Their Big Toys."

If you do like to touch your purchases before you buy, you can always go to places such as Dick's Sporting Goods at the Centre at Hagerstown, or you can go visit the pro shops at the Black Rock Golf Course or Beaver Creek Country Club. Each of these places has a good selection of merchandise, and they have personnel who know the game and can help with selections. Prices are competitive, and in addition to the normal glove, balls, putters, wedges, drivers and other clubs, you can also get gift certificates for rounds of golf as well as the merchandise.

If you are looking for something a little different, you might want to go online to see the wide variety of gifts that are available. One of my favorite spots is www.golfsmith.com. This is a great spot to find something different. Everything including golf art (one of my favorites), golf games, personalized products such as tees and golf balls, club address labels, golf ball and club racks, glassware, novelty gifts and much more. They also carry a variety of range finders and GPS devices for the high-tech golfer in the family.

If you are looking for something more unusual, try www.golfgiftsetc.com. They carry a great selection of gag gifts, desk accessories, T-shirts, trick golf balls, dolls and figurines, toys and games, etc. This is a fun site to surf.

Another great spot to get some special items would be www.usgacatalog.com. They have released the merchandise for the 2008 U. S. Open at Torrey Pines. All types of clothing with the U. S. Open logo are available and, if you are a member, you can get merchandise with the United States Golf Association member's logo. Some items are also available with the logos for the 2009 Open at Bethpage Black and the 2010 Open at Pebble Beach. Also, most of the merchandise is available at a discount to members.

If your golfer is not a U.S.G.A. member, you may want to get him or her a membership. An individual membership is as low as $25, a dual membership for a couple is $35. These are sometimes offered at reduced rates when purchased as a gift. Other membership levels are available at higher rates and include more benefits.

These are some of the sites that I have used and find interesting. There are many more sites and if you Google "golf gifts" you will find them. I hope you have found this article helpful. May you have a great holiday season, and I wish you lower scores in 2008.

Jeff Yingling is vice president of RJ Technologies, Inc., a computer training, database management and office consulting firm located in Hagerstown. He is an avid golfer and serves on the board of directors for the Black Rock Golf Course and the Waynesboro Country Club. He can be reached at jyingling@rjtechnologies.info.

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