Father’s Day Gift Guide: The Best Golf Accessories For Dad
If Dad loves golf, that passion makes your Father’s Day shopping easy. The key is to skip clubs. They are too personal, have too many variable specs, need to be fitted, and a new putter, driver or wedge is just a bad idea. What is a good idea is accessories like these, ones that will make Dad play better, look better, feel better- or all of the above. I’ve been writing on golf for 25 years and have picked best-in-class products at every price point.
The Coolest Shoes Ever: Golf shoes don’t have to be ugly or boring, yet most are. But Dad shouldn’t look bad, so if you want to up his style points, check out little-known UK brand Royal Albatross, which sells in the U.S. and makes some of the best looking, high performance, comfy golf shoes ever. They are handmade by Italian craftsmen using the finest leather and technical materials. They have a lot of styles, and if Dad likes the now popular skate-shoe inspired comfort models, these are much better looking than rivals. If he’s more of a traditional wingtip guy, they have him covered with the best-looking models you can imagine. If he wants something funky, they have some crazy cool mashups – I love the Kinsman, combo sneaker and classic wingtip. They also make gorgeous belts.
Better Golf Clothes: I have shirts and pants and shorts from just about every company that makes golf gear and I have never experienced anything better than Chervo, a high-end Italian sportswear company that excels at high-tech ski and golf clothing. If I was invited to play Cypress Point or Muirfield tomorrow I’d wear one of my Chervo shirts. The family-owned company launched its ski gear back in 1982, added golf in 1991, and for the past 35 years has continually improved, utilizing the best highly technical fabrics combined with a heavy dash of Milan fashion sense. The polo shirts are super light, super wicking and super soft, like butter on your skin. Seriously, I’ve never felt anything like it. They make a full lineup of shirts, slacks, shorts, high-performance rain gear, vests, outerwear, anything and everything Dad needs to be the best looking, most comfortable player at the club.
A Better Walk: Golf is walking sport, and the game returned to its roots during the pandemic as people sought to get more exercise. If you don’t ride in a buggy, a round of golf is a great workout, and walking will help Dad stay healthy. To do that, he should have a high-quality pushcart, and it’s hard to beat the value proposition of the Stewart R1-S. Stewart is a UK brand, and that’s where golf is from and where everyone walks, and they know what they are doing. The dual ball bearing wheels roll extremely smoothly and the aerospace-derived frame triple folds, so it goes from a very compact package that easily fits in the trunk to fully assembled in a couple of seconds. Golf Monthly magazine reviewed it and concluded that, “The folding mechanism is clever and should stand the test of time, while also making it easier to set up and put down quickly. It’s also very easy to push around the course and is arguably the most stylish trolley you’ll come across.” The R1-S (shown at top of page) comes in 10 colors, and usually sells for $374, but currently is on sale for $229. If Dad is more of a high-roller, Stewart also makes motorized carts, like the flagship top of the line Q Follow, which uses a senor on Dad’s belt or back pocket to literally follow him around the course like a robot caddie, and comes with a battery good for playing 36 holes ($2899).
Play Better For Longer: GolfForever is a hot swing trainer that works for warming up, training and fitness, and does it all easily and with video streaming instruction. How hot is it? Well, the Number One player in the world, Scottie Scheffler, started using it and then ran off a streak like no one else has since a young Tiger Woods came on the scene, winning four times including the Masters. He said, “It’s been an unbelievable ride these past few months and part of my success is no doubt due to the hard work I’ve put in with Golfforever. It’s a tool and approach that is critical to my preparation for the PGA Tour, and I respect Golfforever’s mission of helping all golfers improve their bodies and play their best with the same scientific approach as mine.” The trainer combines asymmetrical weight training with the golf swing and instruction to both improve Dad’s swing and his body so he can play older into his years, as the name suggests. It improves flexibility, balance, speed and core strength, and packs up easily for travel. ($199, use code DADSDAY for free shipping).
Golf At Home: The quality of high-tech ball flight launch monitors has improved dramatically in recent years, which in turn has fueled great improvements – and in some cases lower prices – for home golf simulators. Not too long ago only PGA Tour pros like Tiger Woods had them in their homes, and simulators were mainly the province of teaching facilities and bars that you had to go out to and book playing time at. But now it has become realistic and affordable for Dad to have his own full simulator indoor setup, one that lets him practice and have friends over to play realistic virtual rounds on the world’s great courses, from Scotland to Pebble Beach. No greens fees, he can play when it is rainy or dark out, and it is especially good for anyone who lives someplace where they cannot play golf in winter. Gimme Simulators is a leading company offering turnkey packages from a variety of hardware brands, and they offer consultation and installation that makes it easy for home users. I like their comprehensive Vista 10 package that features an easily assembled/disassembled portable aluminum frame, bright and clear image and golf specific computer. It also includes a one-year subscription to one of the most popular golf course packages, E6 connect, with 100 courses, 23 of which are ranked in the World’s Top 100 including Bandon Dunes, Bay Hill, Harbor Town, Kiawah Ocean Course, Pebble Beach, Pinehurst Number Two and many others. ($15,995)
Golf On The Road: Travel is roaring back from the pandemic and in many cases at record levels, and golf which boomed in popularity during lockdowns is experiencing this even more than other kinds of travel. Top tour companies tell me they are selling out fast for all things Scotland, Ireland and other top destinations, while many domestic golf resorts have just had their best year ever. If dad is ready to get back out on the road to play, he already has a golf bag but could maybe use a new travel cover for the airlines, and my favorite is the ClubGlider, the only golf travel bag that has extendable legs and wheels to support 100% of the weight, eliminating the repeated bending and lifting required with traditional travel bags. It’s made by Sun Mountain, which has long been the best maker of quality golf bags, and I’ve had mine for years, with no sign of wear. But the new version of the Meridian model is better than ever, with more robust protection via an improved upper padded section. That is an upgrade to the bag that has won Golf Digest’s Editors’ Choice award for Best Travel Cover every year since 2016 ($320, 8 colors, free shipping).
Personalized Swag: Seamus Golf started out making Scottish and Irish tartan clan headcovers so folks could show off their ancestry, and I’ve had one on my 3-wood for years. But now they make a dizzying array of distinct headcovers, from Hawaiian floral prints to dog prints to tweeds to camouflage. But unlike bulky acrylic headcovers, these are all high quality, durable wool that doesn’t take up a lot of space. Seamus has also expanded into a full lineup of other accessories, from matching bags for wallets, watches and such on the course to shoe bags, as well as hand forged ball marks, divot tools, flasks, bottle openers, even fancy leather scorecard holders. Many items can be personalized and all exude quality, so if you are at wits end about what Dad needs or does not need for his golf game, just go here.
Laser Accuracy: PGA Tour pros all use laser rangefinders when they prep a course for play because it gives precise instant distances to wherever the flag is that day as well as to hazards or lay-up points. Cobalt Golf is a fast-growing brand of high-end rangefinders and the new Q6 Slope features its Pinsense technology which makes it easier to lock onto the flag, something that can be tricky with other models. The unit also vibrates when locked on, in addition to visual and audible confirmation so you know when you get the right number. But what differentiates them from other models I have tried is the ergonomic design, including cool illumination dial on the side that lets you adjust the brightness of the display based on the day’s conditions while looking through the scope. It also has an adjustable eye-cap like better quality binoculars. An integrated digital accelerometer/inclinometer calculates the effect of slope or altitude difference in uphill or downhill shots to compute a truer “plays like” yardage in addition to actual linear yardage, and this can be turned off for tournament pay to conform with USGA rules. The Q6 Slope has a waterproof aluminum housing and premium optics that can hit a flag from 600 yards (more than Dad will ever need). It uses a battery, which I personally have found preferable to USB charging versions, because this is something that stays attached to the golf bag and tends to be left there, so rechargeable ones have to be brought into the house separately and charged between rounds, which means it’s easy to forget and then not be able to use it. ($450)
Best Yardage Value: Every golfer wants to know the distance to the cup, but many feel that maps or lasers are overkill. For the easy-going Dad, a great alternative is the minimalist Bushnell Phantom 2 GPS, a very easy to use model that packs a lot of punch for under a hundred bucks. The unit is about 3-inches by 3-inches square, and most of it is a screen that displays the distances to the front, center and back of the green. Click through to see a close-up map of the green, on which you can approximate the actual pin location for dialed-in accurate distance, or get warnings of distances to bunkers and water hazards that need to be avoided – up to six different ones per hole. That’s it, everything you need and nothing you don’t, intuitive, and it comes pre-loaded with GPS details for more than 38,000 courses worldwide – just about everywhere Dad can play. It automatically knows what course he is playing when he turns it on. The back is magnetic so he can stick it to the upright pole of the golf cart, and it comes with a carabiner to attached to his bag if he is walking or pushing a cart. This is an upgrade of the original Phantom and has a larger display that is also transflective to make it easier to see in bright sunlight. It pairs with the Bushnell app, comes in four colors and is rechargeable with a whopping 18 hours of playing time, enough to power through four rounds a on a single charge.
Best Full-Featured Golf GPS: Unbiased and independent equipment testing site MyGolfSpy just evaluated the Best Golf GPS devices of 2022 and for a handheld unit, the winner was the SkyCaddie SX550, aimed at the data driven, detail-oriented player. The size of a smartphone, it is almost all color touchscreen, displays the entire hole and you can get distances to any point for laying up or carrying hazards at the touch of a finger. The maps are very vivid and detailed, and with the biggest screen in its class and HD graphics you get a great look, plus it continuously reorients the image based on your location for an even better view. You can also use it to track how far and on what angle you hit every club if you are gathering data for game improvement. SkyCaddie is a very well-known brand, and this is their top of the line Tour model, with a new ultra-fast processor for quick response, pre-loaded with more than 35,000 global course maps, and you can get updated maps and new course downloads straight through WiFi without a computer. It comes with a one-year subscription, is water resistant, light, and the rechargeable battery is good for 14 hours of continuous use, enough for three rounds. ($399 or $480 with three-year course data subscription).
Best Golf Watch: Garmin has long ruled this category, and its flagship Approach S62 is widely considered the best you can buy, and just won MyGofSpy’s test – again. Its color screen does everything a handheld GPS can (zoom, hazard distances, adjustable distance, club and shot tracking, but smaller) and it adds tons of tech bells and whistles such as adjusting “plays like” distances based on both inclination and the wind! The pinpointer arrow even tells you where to aim along with distance on blind approaches and the close-up green map includes contours and slope data so you can predict which way approach shots will run after landing. The display adjusts to be easily read in any light conditions, GPS mode runs 20 hours – 5 rounds – on a single charge, and includes 41,000 courses worldwide. It also packs in a full array of fitness tracking features for use in other activities, including measuring heart rate and blood oxygen levels. When you are not playing golf you can disable GPS so the battery lasts longer, change the face to look like a normal watch, swap interchangeable bands quickly, pair it with your smartphone to display text messages and emails, and you can even buy things with contactless payment ($500, 3 colors).