I write this column twice year -- once at Christmas, and the other around Father's Day. It's no accident. Instead, this is a public service to the well-meaning wives and girlfriends of die-hard golfers who want to buy something nice, but blow it with a wrong band of balls, ill-fitting equipment, or useless clothing.

Here are three recommendations. I can vouch for all of them.

BOOK:
An American Caddy in St. Andrews: Growing Up, Looping, and Girls on the Old Course, by Oliver Horovitz. (Gotham Press)

You might not expect to like any book by a seemingly privileged Harvard student who caddies on The Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, for a summer job. Mr. Horovitz will wipe away any preconceptions within two pages.

This is a funny, honest, and, at times, self-deprecating account of a kid living his dream, earning his caddy stripes, and coming of age as a man in the birthplace of golf. Horovotz takes his readers through four summers of work while studying Film at Harvard. Eventually, he makes a documentary about caddy life for one of his classes. Not that the caddies are willing to go along -- at least, not at first.

His book offers wonderful portrayals of those caddies, in full accents, as translated by Horovitz. You might want to pay close attention to this book if you plan to visit St. Andrews.

Horovitz did a nifty job of filling his book with subplots. You'll hop through bars, chase women, and lose some, too. Oliver's sweetest and most important relationship, however, evolves with his Uncle Ken, a World War II hero and long-time resident of St. Andrews.

This is a read for golfers who want to pick up a book, and transport themselves to another place and time. Kudos to a young and promising writer.

OUTERWEAR:
Sunice Albany Gore-Tex Jacket:

Summer or winter, this is a spectacularly good, golf-specific jacket because it works well in so many conditions. It's Gore-Tex. It stretches. You can zip up and wear it as pullover, or leave it open. This jacket has kept me warm in wind, dry in rain and fog, and now the best part -- it rolls into a tight little ball, and weighs less than one pound.

My wife, the arbiter of good taste, rarely cares for what I wear to the golf course. The Sunice Albany jacket, however, received a different review.

"Looks good," she said. "It's trim."

Yes. This is one hip jacket. Wear the long sleeves tight or loose around your wrist. They won't restrict your swing either way, and it has a lifetime warranty.

Sunice is better known for its ski-wear. This jacket may change that equation. If you prefer a short-sleeved version, check the company's website. Sunice makes a variety of models. If they are all as good as the Albany, you can't miss.

SUNGLASSES:
Oakley G-30 Lenses

Have you ever watched a golf tournament on television and turned up the color saturation and contrast to see the course a bit better? That is the equivalent of what Oakley has done with its golf specific G-30 Iridium lens. The first time you try them on, you may wonder if someone slipped you a pill. The red shift is almost psychedelic.

These lenses are distortion-free and crisp, especially in the polarized version. The breaks and subtle details of greens gain a visual pop. They restrict more than 90 percent of reflected glare, which helps when trying to find a ball in the rough. Frankly, the lenses might even be a liability. Case in point---the time I splashed a drive into shallow water, spotted my ball clearly beneath the glistening waves, and then nearly fell in trying to reach it.

You will know these glasses are serious as soon as you unpack them from their case. Note how the foam-fitting interior locks them into place. You could drop this case from 20,000 feet, and the glasses inside would not break.

Oakley will customize the G-30 lens to prescriptions and frames, if requested. I tried one of their golf-specific models, the Flak Jacket XLJ, which provides extra coverage above the cheekbones. They worked for me. They worked for my friends, as well. "I like them a lot," said a buddy who has worn his own pair for the last couple of months.

I have only one minor quibble with these glasses. The frames were very tight, at first. And, because they're so light, the glasses shifted a bit when I moved the skin of my face. Such are the pitfalls of being a 'big headed' reporter, I guess.

In a price range of $150 to $230, these glasses will make your golfer look good (at least by my standards), give his view of the world a rosy glow, and might even help him play better, as well.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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