Monday, November 26, 2012

Technology Meets the Green - Christmas Gift Guide

Finding just the right holiday gift can be a major challenge. For those who don’t chase around the little white ball and understand the intricacies of the game, shopping becomes even more difficult when trying to understand what golfers want wrapped up this December. It can be intimidating for non-golfing shoppers to set foot in a golf store. Some may take the easy way and choose the ever dependable, “go to” golf gift--golf balls. And while golf balls may be welcome by certain weekend duffers and aspiring professional golfers, there is a cornucopia of gift ideas beyond golf balls that will make most golfers giddy, especially if it’s a gift that will help them play better. 

Golfsmith International is North America’s largest golf retailer with more than 60 stores in the U.S. and many more throughout North America. We sat down with the General Manager of Golfsmith to find out what is on golfers’ gift wish lists this year. There are some unique golf gift options, even for those on a budget.

WHAT IS A PERFECT GIFT TO GIVE A GOLFER?
A great golf gift is one selected just for that golfer’s needs. Ultimately, it should be a product designed to improve their individual performance or appearance on the course. After all, that is really what makes golfers happy. They want to hit the ball further, shave a few strokes off their scorecard and look good doing it. And there are lots of new ways to help golfers.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE HOT HOLIDAY GIFTS AND TRENDS FOR GOLFERS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON? Technology has transformed many product categories. We’ve seen radical re-designs of golf clubs and technology is advancing the materials used for shirts and pants making them more comfortable to play in plus theses new materials wick away perspiration better. High tech, computerized hand held golf aids designed to get a golfer closer to the pin are top sellers and customization of clubs is very trendy; that’s where we build a club based on a golfer’s exact measurements and swing style. There are even adjustable belly putters now to fit any golfer’s capabilities.

A big golf gift trend this year actually involves golf balls, but not white ones. Anything with neon colors is selling fast. Yellow neon colored golf balls help golfers track and hit the ball better are gaining in popularity. Neon shirts like the ones golf pro Rickie Fowler wears can make any golfer look just as sharp on the course. And remember those patent leather golf cleats your granddad wore? Some of the hottest seller golf shoes are spike-less and certain styles resemble sneakers, sandals or even clogs. 

A major game-changing gift category is the growth of hand held high-tech devices. GPS and rangefinder devices help golfers improve their play on the course. These gadgets take a lot of guesswork out of the game and help determine the exact distance to the cup or identify where course hazards exist. Some give golfers a bird’s eye view of the course they are playing, providing exact distances to a tee and display landmarks or hazards on a specific course. And for those who can’t hit the greens in the height of winter, this year at Golfsmith a hot gift seller is a home golf simulator. These simulators allow golfers to keep their swing sharp even if the snow is flying outside. Golfers are visually transported to a plush fairway on some of the world’s best courses right from the comfort of their home or office.

WHAT ARE THE MOST POPULAR TRADITIONAL GIFT IDEAS? 


Golf balls continue to be the number one choice for shoppers during the holidays. Golfsmith sells millions of them and we are expecting to sell more yellow golf balls this year. One in ten golf balls sold this year will be yellow, the most visible color in the spectrum and twice as easy to see on a fairway as the white ones. A new generation of golfers is embracing theses vivid colored balls and turning the greens yellow. 

Check out the Srixon Tour Yellow



YOU MENTIONED HIGH TECHNOLOGY IS MAKING GOLF EASIER. CAN YOU ELABORATE ON THIS?
While the objective of golf has not changed in centuries -- getting the ball in the hole -- the methods are constantly evolving. Thanks to the technology advancements with GPS models for the course and rangefinders, an overhead panoramic view or 3-D illustration of a tee is now available at a golfer’s fingertips along with other critical information. Providing all that data to a golfer can have a positive impact on a game’s outcome. 

A Global Position System (GPS) device for golf can relay how far to hit the ball to the pin and what to avoid on the way to the cup. It is like having a personal caddy. There are hand held GPS-based systems for every golf course in the world, some you can wear like a wristwatch. The most popular models are priced between $100 and $400 and give you a virtual walk- through of a course, accurate to within a single yard. Golfers just glance at the screen and can instantly decipher the distance to the front, center or back of the green as well as how far they have hit a shot. Some models are WiFi-enabled allowing a golfer to download data for that particular course. Rangefinders are like distance-measuring scopes. Some models have come down in price as the GPS units gain in popularity.

Some of the coolest technology involves smartphones and smart devices designed to get golfers to hit better. A great gift selection for a golfer this year is one of the new portable golf swing analyzers that clips right onto a club. There is even one made to clip onto a golf glove. These devices provide real-time feedback like how you hit a ball and it provides feedback on how to hit it better directly to a golfer’s smartphone or portable device. Golfsmith is offering some great deals on these gadgets. We will even give a shopper a gift card for purchasing certain training aid models.

WHY ARE THE CLOTHES WE SEE SOME GOLFERS WEARING, VERY DISTINCTIVE OR MAYBE A LITTLE LOUD LIKE RODNEY DANGERFIELD IN THE MOVIE “CADDYSHACK”? 
The golf styles seen on your local course reflect what the pros are wearing. Some golfers like to stand out on the course and make a statement with what they wear and others are more subtle with their attire choices. In the fashion department at Golfsmith this year it’s all about color, color and more neon colors. Bright oranges, yellows and other complementary shades adorn some of the hottest selling apparel and will turn a few heads. Loud, bright colors and patterns are noticeably trending well with apparel from Nike, Oakley, Puma and adidas. For women golfers, skorts and short skirts are a popular fashion statement and accessorized with the likes of colorful scarves and plaid vests. 

Check out the selection of flashy Puma Polos.




OK, IF A SHOPPER IS ON A BUDGET AND WANTS TO BUY A GOLF GIFT FOR SOMEONE ON THEIR LIST, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TOP SELLERS THIS YEAR? If you want to personalize your gift, Golfsmith offers a number of free personalization options for golf balls or golf tees to put your special golfer’s name or their company slogan onto a tee or ball. Golf club head covers are always popular sellers and they can really be distinctive in the shape of your favorite superhero or even sports team. And if someone is looking to get into the game or maybe has a limited budget, most of our stores offer a large selection of used clubs or starter club kits. All of our Golfsmith apparel departments offer styles you won’t find in your local department store, so if a shopper is looking for a distinctive gift for a non-golfer, check out some of the style options at Golfsmith. We also are offering certain promotions leading up to the holiday where we will give a customer a gift card for purchasing a certain club or gift, so it’s like getting two gifts for the price of one. Every golfer would enjoy a Golfsmith gift card to find just the right tool for their golf bag and they can redeem them at one of our Golfsmith stores or online.