Jim Suttie: There's no shortage of golfing gifts for Christmas

If you are wondering what to buy, there are plenty of things to fill the golfer's sock. After checking with Alf's Golf Shop on Immokalee Road, I had quite a list. Hopefully it will help if I put the items into categories.

Training Aids

Since all golfers want to get better, buying your golfer a training aid would be a big hit. The two biggest sellers this Christmas are the "inside approach" and David Leadbetter's Swing Setter.

It is best to buy a training aid that fits the golfer's particular problem. For example, the inside approach is fairly generic and would help anybody's downswing.

The swing setter is more specific and is designed for those golfers who set the club too late and are "off plane" on their backswing.

Therefore, it's important to know the golfer's swing problem before you go out and buy him just anything. Ask your PGA golf instructor for the best advice here, or call 800-824-4279, "Golf Around the World," and ask for a complete list of golf training aids.

Gift certificates

A gift certificate is a great item to give the golfing person in your life. A single lesson, series of lessons, or short game, or try "on-course instruction," and take the range skills to the course to improve scoring.

In addition to instruction, many golfers would love to have professional club fitting, club repair, etc. There are many private club and individual business more than willing to help. Locally, Shane's and The Golf Institute, both in Naples, have all the technology to accommodate the golfer's wishes. Many of the public and private golf clubs have professional fitting systems also. So many golfers have never changed their grips or adjusted their lie angles since they bought their clubs. A nice gift: a complete fitting and evaluation to see if your equipment fits your swing.

Equipment

Mizuno irons are the hot seller this Christmas. Mizuno has always had great equipment for the better player, but now they have the same quality going into their game improvement clubs.

Mizuno fairway woods, I am told, are also highly desirable items this year. Not all the companies have gone into hybrid-utility clubs. (These are ½ wood clubs and ½ iron clubs.) A couple of these clubs would make any golfer happy.

There's no reason to carry any long irons in your bag anymore as these hybrids are making it easier for you.

The Cobra Baffler is still a very good rescue club that is selling well. Women particularly like this club. In regard to equipment for women golfers, the new high-tech Cobra irons and woods serving their needs well. You might also look at the Taylor Made Rescue Club. These clubs are terrific out of the rough.

Wedges

If you buy a wedge for someone, you may want to look at Mizuno, Ping and Cleveland. The information I received is they are the best, by far. But, before you buy, know what you are buying.

Generally, low handicap golfers don't want a lot of bounce on their wedges, but this really depends on the golfer's angle of approach on the downswing and the type of turf you generally play on. The higher handicapper needs more bounce and less loft on his wedges, because he tends to scoop the ball up off the turf.

Putters

Get fit! Putters are such an individual thing. A lot depends on the feel and looks of the putter.

A great Christmas gift would be a putter fitting lesson. This lesson would determine the correct length, loft and lie angle for the golfer in question.

So many golfers are accommodating their stroke and aim to an improperly fit putter. Once you have your specs you can go to any golf shop and find a putter that feels good to you. Once again, I am told the hottest selling putters are the Ping GS series and the Callaway putters.

Golf balls

Golf balls are always a good gift. Titlelist, Callaway, Nike and Bridgestone are the most popular. The average handicap golfer needs a low spinning ball with a hard cover.

The Driver

A new driver is a great gift for Christmas.

This gift should be given in conjunction with a fitting on a launch monitor. The launch monitor will be able to determine the correct loft for your swing and your approach angle.

The monitor will help give you the optimum spin rate for your clubhead speed and also help determine what shaft flex is best for you. Once again, many of the PGA teachers, club assistants, repair and club fitting shops do this.

Bags

Nothing satisfies a golfer more than a golf bag with his or her name on it. Head covers that display your personality, business, or personal logo are popular.

Bags come in all sizes, shapes and colors, and the new lightweight materials. The major designers are getting into the golf apparel. A matching bag and headcovers are great gifts for the women.

Specialty items

The Sky Caddie GPS is desired by the golfer who wants exact yardages. Golf videos, DVDs, books and golf paintings are still popular. I also like the Bionic Glove for golfers with arthritic hands. Any training aid for putting really can't hurt your game.

Several of the local golf instructors have their own books out. If you don't see them out when getting a lesson, inquire about them. I know at my Academy and at the TwinEagles shop I have my new book, "Your Perfect Swing" out and available to purchase.

Have a very Merry Christmas.

Dr. Jim Suttie, the 2000 PGA Teacher of the Year, is director of instruction at The Club at TwinEagles in North Naples and at Cog Hill Golf Club in Lemont, Ill. He also is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher and rated No. 15 by Golf Digest. Suttie coaches the FGCU men's golf team. E-mail him at jmsuttie@aol.com.

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