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  • Alistair Tait

Golf Gift Ideas For Christmas

The doyen of golf writing, Bernard Darwin, inspired this blog. His 1913 essay, “A Christmas Sermon”, got me thinking about a few gifts I’d like to bestow on the golf world this festive season.

Well, it is the season for giving.

Darwin tells the story of a friend who complains that golfers, especially better players…

“…never tell him what he is doing wrong in his shots, nor do the tell each other. … He declares that, if better players would more often go out of their way to help worse ones by pointing out their errors and appropriate method of amending them, it would make for the general happiness of the world.”

Not sure who Darwin’s friend was, but he had to be seriously deluded to want advice from fellow playing companions.

There is nothing worse. The golden rule should always be ask first before you impart, er, wisdom. If my experience is anything to go, by then amateur golfers already have enough thoughts floating through their heads without needing more.

I know advice from friends is always well meant, but please, ask first. Better still, wait to be asked, especially if you aren’t a club professional, a tour professional, and your handicap doesn’t start with a + sign.

Christmas gift number one: A gag

So, my first Christmas gift is a gag for all those who feel the need to channel their inner Butch Harmon and pass on swing tips. Don’t worry, the gag will only magically appear whenever said recipient starts to say: “What you’re doing wrong is…”

It also applies to those who feel the need to talk about their own golf swings, and changes they’ve made, or things they’re working on. Don’t tell me! Next thing you know I’ll be wondering if maybe I should do the same.


This magical gag won’t stop the recipient from talking about other subjects such as politics, sports, the weather, the economy, philosophy, the meaning of life, why the word “dormie” was mysteriously erased from the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf, why we drive well one day and putt poorly, and vice versa, and other bollocks.

Christmas gift number two: A rake

Actually, not a rake but a lesson on what one looks like, how to use it, and when it should be put into action. From recent experience, most rakes now seem to come without instructions. It also seems the larger a golfer’s feet, the less likely that long handled object with the gaped tooth end lying beside the bunker – hint, hint – is less likely to be employed.

I rest my case with the photograph below, an image that should never be seen on any golf course. I mean, it’s not difficult, is it?

Christmas gift number 3: A pitch mark repairer

I’m a bit anoraky when it comes to what I have in my pocket during a round of golf. I carry a long, orange tee for shots with a driver, a short tee for par 3s, and a pitch mark repairer with ball maker included. I don’t feel right if I carry, say, an extra tee, cash, etc in the same pocket. I also wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t fix my pitch mark.

Sadly, a small minority don’t feel the same. A friend once said the only reason he aspired to become club captain was so he could install cameras on every hole to nab the buggers who don’t repair pitch marks.

It drove him mad. Me too. Again, it’s not hard. Beauty is, you don’t need a pitch mark repairer. A tee will do the job just as well.

Christmas gift number 4: Awareness

I probably sound like a killjoy already so, at the risk of being nicknamed Ebenezer, here goes. No one needs to hear your conversation from three fairways away. Most golfers are aware there are others on the golf course, but a small minority seem to think they’re the only ones with tee times.

One of my playing companions had to back off his tee twice shot last week because another group seemed to think it was fine to shout at each other as they walked from green to tee – on another course!

Not saying golf courses should be treated like libraries or churches, but awareness please, there are others trying to concentrate.

By the way, exceptions will be made for holes in one… Now they are worth shouting about.

Christmas gift number 5: A lower handicap

Since it is the season of giving, I wish you longer, straighter drives, accurate iron shots, fewer putts and a lower handicap.

Merry Christmas everyone...

#JustSaying: “When a perfect stranger shall tap me on the shoulder and say: ‘Excuse me, sir, but you would play much better if you did not tie yourself into such a ridiculous and complicated knot,’ then, even though it be Christmas time, I shall think that the system of promiscuous benevolence has gone too far.” Bernard Darwin

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Dec 23, 2021

Merry Christmas, Alistair, and thank you for your daily gifts of insight into the golf world.

Dec 25, 2021
Replying to

And to you too....


Bill Elliott
Bill Elliott
Dec 23, 2021

The only playing partner who did improve my game was Sandy Lyle and all he did was guide me into getting my feet into the correct position some 35years ago. I've never managed to get them back there since. X

Dec 25, 2021
Replying to

Well, it would be easier Bill if you didn't have two left feet – just like me!

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