It’s never too late to get the golfers in your life the perfect items to help them them through the long, cold offseason and have them looking forward to the first “fore!” of the spring.
Speed golf. Callaway, perhaps hoping to cash in on the once-and-future hot button topic of pace of play, has a new golf ball called the Speed Regime. The series of tour-level balls are designed to amp the games of golfers of various swing speeds. The SR1 is for swing speeds of 90 and below, the SR2 for those between 90 and 105, and the SR3 is for swing speeds of 105 and above. Phil Mickelson’s favorite equipment maker can tell you all you need to know about the aerodynamics of each ball and how each one minimizes the drag at the start of the ball’s flight for specific players, but the bottom line, according to the company, is that you’ll hit this ball a long way. As with many new products at this time of year, you’ll have to stuff the stocking with an IOU. All three versions of the golf ball will retail for $47.99 per dozen as of January 24, 2014.
Big Bertha -- Back by popular demand. Fans of the original oversized metal driver, which debuted in 1991, will welcome back Big Bertha and want to get to know Big Bertha Alpha. Adjustability is the calling card of today’s Big Bertha ($399 retail as of February 14) and Big Bertha Alpha ($499, for elite players with above-average swing speeds). Big Bertha introduces Callaway’s adjustable perimeter weighting, an innovative sliding device that players can move around the rear of the head to help them generate longer, more accurate shots. The most buzzed-about feature of the Big Bertha Alpha is the “Gravity Core,” which lets golfers adjust spin and launch angle separately, which, according to the company, is a first.
TaylorMade goes compact. For better players who enjoy a smaller version of the No. 1 driver on the PGA Tour, the SLDR 460, TaylorMade has a more compact model. The 430cc club head with a rich charcoal-gray crown should attract more advanced golfers who like to shape shots from right to left and vice versa. Available now, the club, which TMag says features the same distance-producing technology (low and forward center of gravity) and sliding weight mechanism as the 460, retails for $399.
From running the road to playing the course. New Balance, whose products have provided runners and walkers with almost infinite options and superior comfort for years, has entered the golf footwear market. New in 2014, the Massachusetts-based company will offer six styles of cleated and spike-less shoes for men and women. Those with wider footprints will appreciate the Minimus Sport ($119.95 retail), which the company says will let your toes splay, yoga-style, for enhanced feel and lateral stability. It offers a water-resistant air-mesh upper. The NBG2002 ($149.95), with a waterproof microfiber leather upper, features seven Champ Zarma One-Lok spikes.
A travel bag with legs. Sun Mountain offers a new product -- the Tour Series -- to the only line of travel bags with extendable legs and wheels. Weekend warriors and touring professionals may now choose among the Pro ($349 retail), Meridian ($289), Journey ($219), and the Tour ($319). The bags actually glide from parking lot to luggage counters on legs that extend and tuck away when not in use and that support the total weight of your clubs on pivoting caster wheels.
Confessions of a Golf Slut. At last, a book about life, love, and the game of golf by a woman, for women. Noted sports journalist Susan Fornoff (full disclosure: she’s my editor at GottaGoGolf but in no way lined my pocket for this review) follows the never-ending golf season and that little dimpled orb across some of the most beautiful resorts and tracks in the world, in search of love off the course and her personal best on it. Along the way, with golf as her guide and moral support, the author shares her ups and downs, the silliness of online dating, and the heartbreak of divorce and tragedy. While I could have done with fewer verbatim email messages from the men who want to date and tee it up with the writer, the book is a quick, humorous, and entertaining read. “Confessions of a Golf Slut: A Memoir of Life, Love, and The Game” is available at Amazon for $7.99 (Kindle) or $13.80 (paperback).