2011 Holiday Gift Guide

By: Joel Zuckerman

You tell me that golf is best played by those who are very fit, and I respond with the names of endomorphs Tim Herron, John Daly and Craig Stadler. You tell me that high-quality golf is the province only of the healthy, and I'll say what of Eric Compton (heart transplant) or Casey Martin (who suffers from Klippel Trenaunay Weber syndrome, which has basically ruined one of his legs).

That said, a fit body is one that is better able to execute the precise and demanding physical movements that are hallmarks of a sound, repeatable and powerful golf swing. So, interspersed with the usual golf-centric gift recommendations for the holidays, here are a few suggestions that will bolster both fitness and well-being.

Etonic DRP Eclipse

Etonic Running Shoes. The best way to play golf is walking the course, and one of the best ways to get fit for walking is by doing a bit of running. Try any Etonic shoe, with their patented mid-sole design, helping to keep the foot on a neutral plane as it transition from heel to toe. The shoes also have a very effective Resilient Cushioning System placed in high-impact areas for more cushioning and energy return. In life, you learn to walk, and then run. But in this case, if you run you might learn and love to walk the golf course, without undue strain, or exhaustion. www.etonic.com

Clean Program

Clean Program. This 21-day cleansing, or detoxification program, will not only help your golf, but far more importantly, help your life. It is a rigid yet totally doable program of eating very specifically (with a list of "don'ts" that would take up the rest of this page). It involves twice-a-day smoothies, one actual meal a day and a series of nutritional supplements. The end result is a detoxified gut, which leads to weight loss, decreased inflammation throughout the body, increased energy, sharper mental focus, and a host of benefits that are uniformly positive. It takes discipline to follow, but don't all worthwhile things require a bit of sacrifice? www.cleanprogram.com

The Tilley Hat

Tilley Hats. If I had a dollar for every dollop of sunscreen I've massaged into my face, neck and arms over the last 15 years I could pay the green fee at Pebble Beach every day for a month. And the problem with the goop is that it is full of chemicals, so while you try and mitigate the negative effects of the sun, who knows what type of collateral damage you are doing? But Tilley Hats obscure the sun from the face, ears and neck without going overboard on sunscreen. As a bonus they are comfortable, breathable, lightweight and virtually indestructible. www.tilley.com

Nike Lunar Control Shoe

Nike Moon Golf Shoes. Nike shoes are athletic, stylish and performance-oriented. And from personal (and painful) experience I can report that they also have a tendency to cause blisters and take a bit of time to break in. Not so with these delightful Moon Shoes, which are springy and supportive, with enhanced flexibility and natural motion provided by the Nike "Power Platform." The top of the shoe features very thin, very strong nylon fibers called Flywire that hold the middle of the foot in place, eliminating slippage and along with the other high-tech elements enhancing stability and balance. www.nike.com

ECCO Men's Golf Street Textile

ECCO Shoes. unlike my experience with most Nike shoes, have always been comfortable right out of the box. Their Golf Street model is adorns the feet of dozens of top Tour stars, including the "ECCO Poster Boy," Fred Couples. The game's first hybrid, sport-casual shoe, they offer unmatched levels of versatility, performance and style on the course and beyond. This extremely popular model is available with a textile upper delivering maximum breathe-ability and a chic, casual aesthetic. www.eccousa.com

Cruzbike's Vendetta

Cruzbikes. Golf is leisurely-paced, cycling can be fast. Golf, if played in a cart doesn't offer much of a workout, while cycling is among the best exercises available. But traditional bicycles put too much strain on the shoulders, wrists - and especially the backside area, particularly on lightweight racing bikes with narrow saddles. Cruz Bikes solve these problems as they are recumbent bikes (meaning the rider is in more of a prone position, as opposed to upright) and are so efficient in terms of their aerodynamic shape that they are fast-faster than a downhill, downwind putt at Augusta National with greens as hard as concrete! So if you want to increase fitness for golf, or any other reason, ride fast and be comfortable on a bike that doubles as a conversation piece, visit www.cruzbike.com to learn more.

Speed Whoosh

Speed Whoosh. This is a handy-dandy little training gadget brought to you from the good folks at Momentus Golf. The idea is that by swinging this skinny, lightweight, flexible antennae-like rod, golfers can develop a faster swing tempo, which increases clubhead speed, and will result in longer drives. It's easy to use, provides some instant feedback, and can help golfers who struggle to swing the club with any type of "zip" learn to increase their velocity in just a few minutes per day. www.speedwhoosh.com

Joel Zuckerman, called "One of the Southeast's most respected and sought-after golf writers" by Golfer's Guide Magazine, is an award-winning travel writer based in Savannah, Ga., and Park City, Utah. He has written five books, including the epic "Pete Dye Golf Courses" in 2008. Joel's course reviews, player profiles, essays and features have appeared in more that 100 publications internationally, including Sports Illustrated, Golf, Continental Magazine, Travel & Leisure Golf, Sky Magazine, Golf Connoisseur, Golfweek, Estates West, Millionaire and Golf International. For more of Joel, visit www.vagabondgolfer.com.

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