Coming up with Christmas gift ideas for the golfer on your list can sometimes be overwhelming. There are thousands of items and all sorts of categories to choose from. Do you go with the oversized driver or the gopher head cover? Pink golf balls or belly putter? Here's our annual golf gift guide, with a few suggestions in case you're still undecided:
Powerchute training aid: It is literally a parachute attached to your golf club. The idea is to increase swing speed, kind of like having a weighted donut on your club. It attaches to the bottom and top of any club shaft more than 42 inches long and rotates during the swing, so it's always catching air. And it's endorsed by Jack Nicklaus. $99.95, powerchutesports.com
Callaway Diablo Octane driver: There's a lot of science mumbo jumbo, but basically this driver uses forged composite, which is supposedly lighter and stronger than titanium. It allows for increased head speed, which should mean longer drives. Of course, it could also mean bigger slices and hooks. $299.99, callawaygolf.com
Odyssey Divine putters: There are hundreds of putters on the market, but this one is unique because it's supposed to be geared toward women. The face is a little softer than most putters, and it makes a louder sound at impact. It comes in 2-ball, Mini T, Blade and Rossi styles. $179, odysseygolf.com
Dorfman Pacific Aussie Style Soaker Hat (above): There are golf hats, and then there are cool golf hats. You dip the hat in water, or pour water over it, and it retains the water for hours. It keeps the sun off and cools you down. Perfect for Florida golf. $29.95, most golf shops
Hole-in-One golf camp shirt: This button-up shirt with front pocket is covered with golf balls right next to the hole. Looks cool to wear on the golf course or to the grocery store. $59.94. whatonearthcatalog.com
LoudMouth pants: Face it, you can't hit the ball like John Daly, but you can dress like him. These pants are so ugly they have actually become popular. They're checkered, they're stripped, they're dotted, they have aloha girls on them. $95, us.loudmouthgolf.com
Bushnell Pro 1600 with slope range finder: There are all kinds of range finders on the market, and they are being used more and more by golfers. Even some tournaments are allowing players to use range finders. We chose this one, above, because it claims to be accurate within a yard ,and it compensates for altitude. But there are also other, less-pricey versions as well. $499, golf shops or hunting stores.
Your Golf Pro app for iPhone: It's really a pretty cool idea. You have video golf lessons from PGA Tour professionals right at your finger tips. So if you want to practice bunker shots or drives or whatever, just call it up on the iPhone while you're on the range or course. Or, you could even get an app with lessons from former PGA Tour pro Paul Azinger (Golfplan with Paul Azinger). $0.99 to download, apple.com/iphone
SkyKap Advisor golf hat: So get this, the hat has a global positioning system and microphone in the brim. If you want the distance to the pin, you give a voice command and it gives you an audio response. It will also keep track of your rounds. It may look like you're talking to yourself, but the idea is to give you a hands-free way of getting distances. It's like having a caddie in your hat. $299, rangefinders.com.
Golf tees: This is golf's version of building a better mouse trap. Tees are no longer just wood pegs. There are plastic tees, environmentally friendly tees, extra-long tees, extra-short tees and tees with bevels that make them the same length every time you put them in the ground. There is also the Callaway Long Eterni-Tees, above. They are plastic and virtually unbreakable. They also have a cross-cut top that is supposed to make the ball go farther. An unbreakable tee that makes the ball go farther might just be the perfect tee. $7.99, most golf shops.
Dry Grip antiperspirant lotion: It's hot out and you just can't grip the club. You sweat through your glove and you can feel the club moving at contact. Try this stuff. It's supposed to take the moisture out of your hands for up to two hours. $7.99. ghostgrip.com
No. 3 Putt Cup Reducer: Now here is a pretty good practice tool. There are two rings in the package, made to be placed on top of the hole. One ring makes the cup slightly smaller, the other makes it even smaller. If you can make putts into the smaller hole, then surely you will drain 5-footers into a regulation cup opening on the course. $12.99. golftrainingaids.com
Out of the box
The Unputtaball: It's a gag ball that never rolls straight. It looks like a real ball, so when you're playing partner isn't looking, you swap out balls and watch the hilarity ensue. $5.98. prankplace.com
Personalized golf balls: These can be as creative as you like. You can put "World's Greatest Dad (or Mom)'' on the balls, or you can put pictures on them. What says "I Love You'' more than your mug shot on a dozen golf balls? Or your kid's mug shot? Or maybe you can put an enemy's mug shot on the balls so it will make you hit them harder. $26.95 per dozen, personalizationmall.com
Golf head cover: Head covers don't have to be just socks with numbers on them. There are thousands of different styles, from animals to college mascots to Disney characters. Hundreds to choose from. Cost varies, onlygolfgifts.com
Golf Rules Illustrated 2011: This has been a season where the sometimes-crazy rules of golf have come into play. Why not get a reference book that illustrates the rules? It's put out by the United States Golf Association. $13.57, amazon.com
Titanic Thompson: The Man Who Bet on Everything, by Kevin Cook: A real-life character from the early 20th century, Thompson was supposedly good enough to shoot 66 right-handed and 65 left-handed. He bet and won millions, not only on golf but many other things as well. Sounds like a good read. $16.47, amazon.com.
Lost Balls: Great Holes, Tough Shots and Bad Lies, by Charles Lindsay: More of a coffee table book, it is a collection of unique photographs from courses around the world. $19.79, amazon.com.
Lynx junior golf set: They come in sets for ages 3-6 and 7-9 and include a bag (pink for girls, if you like). The 3-6 sets include a driver, 7-iron and putter. The 7-9 sets include a driver, hybrid, 7-iron, sand wedge and putter. $69.98, $119.98 at golfsmith.com
Drive and putt golf set: The set has a plastic driver and putter, six plastic balls, three yardage markers to set up in the back yard, a driving mat and a putting green with cup and pin. It's got enough stuff to keep kids occupied. $21.99 at findgift.com.
Our area hosts the PGA Tour in March and the Champions Tour in April.
PGA: Transitions Championship, March 17-20, Innisbrook Golf Resort, Copperhead Course, Palm Harbor. One-day tickets are $30 in advance, and weeklong packages are also available. Kids 17 and under are free. Call (727) 942-5566 for information.
Champions: Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am, April 15-17, TPC Tampa Bay, Lutz. One-day tickets are $25, weekly badges are $65. Kids 18 and under admitted free with a paying adult. Call (813) 265-4653 for information.