Listen, our families and friends mean well. They know we like golf which in their minds makes them think that holiday shopping is simple.
Unfortunately, we all know how that turns out. A budget brand of balls that we don't use, or a gag gift idea, like that toilet golf game. Perhaps some not-actually-useful doodad, like a pocket golf ball cleaner, or maybe if you're' really lucky, a lefty club.
All of which is to say that while I appreciate the thought, the truth is that often, the most useful golf gifts are often the ones we buy for ourselves.
So, with that in mind, here's a variety of nerdy golf products that I can personally vouch for. I've used them and found them each helpful in their own way.
Clean grooves can have a big impact on the way your golf ball reacts off the face, and this groove cleaner seems to have taken over on tour over the past year or so. The big one squirts water on command; the small one is my preference, and it can attach to your belt loops via a magnet.
Arccos Smart Grips
Earlier this season, I committed to taking stat-tracking more seriously in my game. So I re-gripped my clubs with these Arccos Smart Grips. Suddenly, I was getting advanced metrics about my game without having to do anything, and quickly became addicted to the results.
Another trendy tour training aid which places your trail wrist in a kind of sweet spot that can help combat the dreaded over-the-top move, and groove better compression through impact
Golf Pride Grips
I don't know you, but your clubs probably need new grips. It's the only connection you have with your clubs, so don't take it for granted. As I just mentioned, I used the Arccos Smart Grips last season, but if you're looking for something more down-the-middle, I enjoy the alignment features on Golf Pride's MCC Align grip.
Evans Golf Bags
Lightweight bags with a throwback design, they look classic and cool. No unnecessary bells and whistles, which is just how I like it. It's a low-maintenance golf bag that makes you look like a proper player.
PLD Putter Fitting
I got a peek behind PING's PLD Putter system earlier this year and it's genuinely impressive. The prices vary from a full on custom putter build, to a virtual fitting, but either way if you're serious about improving your putting you should look into some kind of putter fitting, and get your specs dialed just as you would your irons.
Speaking of dialing-in your specs, have you ever thought about the type of golf ball you're using? Probably not. I dived into Ballnamic's program about halfway through the season and ended up switching golf balls—and gained an easy couple of yards because of it.
I've become a big headcover guy in recent years, simply because there are so many companies doing awesome things in the space. Dormie's boast high quality leather, and lots of fun designs. I got sucked in by their 2023 Open Championship and Ryder Cup lines.
Love filming your golf swing on the golf course, or driving range? GPOD uses a magnet which you attach to the back of your phone,
Swing Plane Perfector
The Putting Board is the kind of putting version of the Swing Plane Perfector, which has long been a go-to for Luke Donald. They sell fast, but if you're looking for something to groove the feeling of a simple stroke, this'll help.
We're starting to get into the putting section now (can you tell I've spent a lot of time thinking about it over the past year?). There's a reason why so many pros use mirrors. It becomes a checkpoint for them, to make sure they're setting up the same way, each and every day. There are lots of putting mirrors on the market. I use this one from Short Game Gains.
Stick these disposable dots on the face of your putter and it'll force you to hit the middle of the putter. A process that will make your stroke better, too.
Mi Putting Template
Speaking of things that make your putting stroke better: Renowned coach Phil Kenyon's Mi Putting Template pops up everywhere on tour. It's really simple: Just track your putter along the lines, and it'll fix both the past and face angle of your putter.
Tour Read App
Recently I've come to the realization that my ability to read greens well is, in a word, bad. The Tour Read app helped me with this, though. It uses a formula to help you gauge the slopes that is surprisingly intuitive.
The final putting entry of 2023: the WellPutt mat uses an app that allows you to play different practice putting games and drills. It's fun, and makes putting practice more fun than you might expect.
The Stack System
Another app-based training aid, for those who are searching for more speed this offseason, is The Stack. It's more expensive than many golf speed training aids on the market , but it's got the track record to back it up.
Shot Pattern Golf
One interesting course management app I've been playing around with recently. Golfers plug in their general dispersion pattern (AKA, how far short/long/left/right they hit their clubs) and then impose onto a golf hole. Quickly, you'll realize you've probably been aiming in the wrong spot.
Louisville Golf Hickory Clubs
Every now and again I'll hit a few balls with hickory clubs—usually in an open park, or on a golf course in the winter. It's a bit of fun, and strangely good for grooving a nice, smooth tempo.
I got into rowing this year for a few reasons: I can do it from home, I can do it quickly, and because it's incredibly good for golf. Hydrow is the kind of Peloton for rowing, and boasts a couple of passionate golfers on their coaching staff
Tall Order Socks
Finally, I bought myself a pair of these socks at the U.S. Open last year in desperation after the socks I was wearing got wet, and now they're my favorite socks. Apparently Aaron Judge likes them, too.