The thought that counts?

Masters 2023: What these Masters gifts really say about your relationship


AUGUSTA, Ga. — That people spend a lot of money on Masters merchandise is a given. Some buy for themselves, some pay for their kids' college by reselling items on a secondary market. Many give gifts.

This third category sparked a debate about the appropriate gift for certain types of relationships. I had just left the merchandise shop, and returned with a T-shirt for my dad, a belt for my oldest son, and a golf shirt for my youngest. All three felt solid, but a fourth item—a hat I bought someone as a thank you—had given me pause. Hats are usually safe terrain, but this was a trendy rope hat, and I now wondered whether it fit the recipient’s style.

Suggestions poured in. It's fine, one colleague said. It wasn’t right for someone that age, said another.

Have you considered glassware, asked a third? I had not, I said. I don’t even know what glassware is.

All of which is to say that Masters gifts are more than just a window into golf trends and personal style, but what we really think about the person we’re buying for. For instance:

Hats: The reason hats are usually easy is because they're reasonably priced enough that you don’t need to overthink the relationship. I would say it’s hard to buy a bad Masters hat, but then one of my bosses showed me the peach bucket hat he just came back with, so that’s not entirely true.


T-shirts: There is nothing wrong with a good Masters T-shirt. I buy my dad one every year, and it’s because he specifically asks. But buying someone a T-shirt from Augusta National still feels odd, sort of like ordering chicken fingers at a classy restaurant. This place values exceptional quality, the gift is saying, but you apparently don’t.

Sweaters, quarter-zips, and outerwear: These are pricey, so they’re often for people you really care about, or who have extended you a significant kindness—or for people who tend to forget to pay their heating bills.

Golf shirts: A golf polo gift can diverge in one of two directions. The first one says, "I really like your style, and this gift fits it well.” The second is the passive-aggressive “You don’t own a single shirt I like, so I am making sure you have at least one.” This explains the shirt I bought my youngest son.

Belts: Logoed belts fulfill a subgenre of golf apparel, often for people so pretentious they need additional areas to sport private club logos (my oldest son). Also, they’re for people whose pants are too big (also him).

Signs, posters, assorted flags: Best for the friend whose marriage is in trouble, and will likely be getting his own place within the year.

Golf towels, golf balls, divot repair tools: You bought gifts for many people close to you. Then you remembered this other person while standing on line, and threw one of these in on a whim.

Teddy bears, mini-putters, onesies: Whether for your own child, or for a friend who just had one. It acknowledges that you know nothing about children and what they really like, but you want that child to know you went to the Masters.