Christmas, Best Time for Peripheral Golf Gadgets…I Guess
I don’t know how good the good old days really were in general, but on Christmas morning in the confines of my living room, life was hard to beat. Golf gifts abounded, and unlike today, nearly all of it had to do with a club or a ball, and the promise of bringing the two together more successfully. Seeing anything with the name Titleist, Spalding or MacGregor on it was dizzying. The farthest thing I ever saw from hitting a golf ball was the bag, and an occasional glove. The bag was, of course, directly related to vanity, as was the hat. Headwear symbolized one’s allegiances, as in my Lee Trevino hat, or my Gary Player hat. All else was a club, ball, green fees, or lessons.
Then came the first putting gadget that actually returned the ball to you across the carpeted floor. We no longer had to walk the ten feet and back. That broke the seal, opened the door to a world of modern gadgetry. That door once open, all the peripheral Christmas advertising followed. Now, when I look up “Christmas gifts for golfers,” I generally get headphones, speakers, rain jackets, sunglasses, wallets, watches, valuables pouches, knit hats and towels, a hand squeezer, designer bottles, Italian hybrid slipper shoes for later, and various brands of tequila, cognac, and whiskey.
So I tried another Christmas site, and it offered me a Caddie Smart, duffel bag, a “blast motion sensor,” voice caddie, rangefinder, GPS, pants, and headcovers. My first question was, “Do I need headphones to hear heavy metal while I swing? Or, is it just to pretend I’m not playing with anyone else?” Isn’t good company supposed to be part of the fun? A speaker? Heavy metal for everyone? Tequila? Now that ought to give my game exactly what it needs. And for pure gadgetry, how long will it be until someone attaches a doodad to the putter to correct the club path in mid-stroke. How long until we don’t really play the game anymore based on our own reckoning, faulty as it may be.
The ghost of Christmas past brought me those golf items designed to inspire a better performance out of myself, not the equivalent of crutches, wheelchairs, and high-powered scopes to make me look better than I am. My entire youth was spent calibrating in my own brain how to gauge the distance of each club in the bag and circumstance on the course. It was me against the obstacles of physics. I wanted it that way, the authentic young hacker against the odds. Of course, we lived vicariously through our favorite pros, but I didn’t want a gadget to make me think that my game looked like theirs.
Evach one of the gifts I found listed has a purpose, but is aimed more at making golf stylish, comfortable, and easier. My fondest memories of golf resemble the rite of passage one feels entering the brush with the first BB gun. or asking the first girl to dance. I was awkward at best in both circumstances, but I learned over time. Let the same be true of golf. Even at my present age, I want to kick the props out, and make it me against the course, nature, and myself. All golfers will undergo trials, but there will also be victories, and I don’t want to share them with Bushnell, Rolex, or NASA.
I love the periphery of Christmas golf on another level, but when it comes time for gifts of the game, my favorites are still: Lessons, training ads that are not brought along to the course, travel, club upgrades, good weather and good people to play with. Make me as comfortable as you want, but make me play the game by my own wits or lack thereof. I don’t care if I ever play like Nicklaus, but want to be better than I was last week. Love the sweater, but gauging distance and line is still my job, not Santa’s.