Nine extravagant holiday gifts for avid golfers
Maybe you're looking to atone for being naughty this year . . . or hopefully you're more interested in saying thank you to someone who's been exceptionally nice. Either way, here are nine big ways to make an over-the-top statement about how you feel during this holiday season – a collection of extravagant gift possibilities for the golfer in your life who deserves it. Some assembly may be required.
(For a list of golf gifts to fit just about any budget, click here for photos of 2013 Holiday Gift Ideas.)
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1. Golf trip around the world
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 BALLS: If your favorite golfer has three weeks to spare, line up enough golf to cover the globe – literally. Luxury golf-travel company Kalos Golf has touted a 21-day excursion that leaves from Maui, starts play in Fiji and wraps up in Spain. (By the way, that jaunt reportedly has a waiting list.) Or, create your own. Maybe Bethpage to Ireland to South Africa to Dubai to Australia to Japan to Hawaii to Oregon can be figured out with your own legwork.
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2. Private session with a Tour coach
COME SWING WITH ME: Even Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson take lessons – and they're sure to learn from some of the best instructors in the world. Why not see if teachers on that level can improve your favorite golfer's game? Mike Bender, who works with Zach Johnson, charges $400 plus greens fees for a 90-minute playing lesson at his academy in Lake Mary, Fla. Butch Harmon offers a day of instruction for a minimum group of six that also includes time with his other instructors and a two-night stay in Las Vegas (pricing is not listed on his site); in another example from a top name, David Leadbetter offers three hours in private (again, pricing not listed); Todd Anderson's bio on the Sea Island website says to call about scheduling and rates . . . you get the idea. It's the gift that could keep on giving all year long . . . though your results might vary.
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3. A Masters green jacket
PIECE OF HISTORY: Yes, the good folks at Augusta National do ask kindly that green jackets remain on club property. Most honor the request, with only a few escapes. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported on four sales of green jackets, most at auction and at least one prompting a lawsuit as the club claimed it was stolen. Prices have ranged from more than $60,000 to more than $300,000. But timing is everything, so good luck finding one – and come to think of it, can you really enjoy golf's equivalent of stolen artwork?
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4. Mercedes-Benz golf cart
LUXURY ON THE LINKS: Muirfield's biggest story of the 2013 Open Championship was Phil Mickelson's win, hands down. But behind the scenes, it also played host to the introduction of Mercedes Benz's Vision Golf Cart, an electric vehicle that includes touchscreens, smartphone docking stations, Bluetooth and more. Of course, other brands of luxury golf carts exist as well – emulating Hummers, Rolls Royces and more – even a cart built to look like a Batmobile. So shop around, kick the tires . . .
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5. Golf hovercraft
Video: Bubba shows off Hovercraft golf cart
NO TIRE MARKS: A close connection to Bubba Watson or Oakley might be helpful in making this happen – not to mention your local golf-course superintendent. Or just look up the number for Neoteric Golf, which manufactures the beast. A public course in Ohio ordered two, which can seat four, carry two bags and reach 50 mph. Who's going to critique your swing on the first tee if you pulled up for your round in a hovercraft?
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6. Golf simulator
TALK ABOUT A BONUS ROOM: Look, a home theater is great. But couldn't that big soundproof space be put to better use? Repurpose that big-screen projector, level the floor if need be and build a hitting bay. PGA.com estimates the pricetag at $40,000 to $50,000 for a virtual-reality hitting bay that's entertaining yet a great tool for training as well, able to measure face angles at impact and more. And during the cold winter months, it might not be a bad way to play 18 holes. Hmmm, does Fathead make palm trees for the side walls?
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7. Backyard golf hole
LET'S WALK A QUICK 1: It's not unheard of to have a practice area on your homestead, and what better than an entire hole? If your property is smaller, or don't want to commit to maintaining an entire hole, you might settle for just a putting green. A quick Google search turns up plenty of companies looking to help you get in more practice without leaving home. As for upkeep, well, that will be more challenging than the typical neighborhood kid with a mower, but if you've read this far you can dream something up.
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8. Backyard golf stadium
GALLERY NOT INCLUDED: Stadium and convention-center designer Populous recently created a $30 million concept for a personal backyard stadium, with a retractable roof available. Which begs the question: Why not build a green complex inside it? While Populous' rendering positions the open end away from the mansion, it's easy to imagine the open end facing the house – where a covered hitting bay could be added (heck, why not one at each end to use different angles). Boom! Year-round golf with tee shots literally in the comfort of your own home.
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9. An entire golf course
YOU BE THE RANGER: If you or your favorite golfer is tired of the daily grind, and your pockets are deep, why not invest in an entire course you can call your own? Several companies broker golf-course sales. Perhaps they know how to breathe life into a course that has its owners and operators placing a "For Sale" sign out past the bag drop. (Might not be bad to slip the business card of a good superintendent into your golfer's stocking along with that deed.)
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Got more ideas? Tweet them to @GolfweekZ and perhaps we'll build a back-nine in time for St. Nick to consider them.