No matter where we travel and which resorts we stay at, the most consistent thing we heard in 2022 was that people are playing a lot of golf. It makes sense, obviously, because many golfers probably didn’t play much in 2020 and even a good chunk of 2021, so tens of thousands of sets of clubs had been gathering dust in garages across North America. And finally, when it was time to get back out there and tee off again, those bored, frustrated players made up for quite a bit of lost time.
That’s why we are declaring 2023 the Year of Golf on Islands, as great rounds at epic courses like Quivira Los Cabos and Kapalua’s Plantation have us itching to go even bigger in the New Year. Where will we end up? We have plenty of surprises in store, but it all begins with a new set of clubs.
Takomo 101 Irons
Buying a new set of golf clubs is a big investment, and it’s something I’d been kicking around as I’ve improved my game thanks to several visits to one of the Caribbean’s great miracle workers. One aspect that weighed a lot on my decision was travel, as in, “Do I feel comfortable taking these expensive clubs with me on my trips, and do I trust the airlines and myself not to lose or damage them?”
Calmer travelers might say I’m being paranoid, but when you spend four figures on anything, you have every right to be overprotective. Fortunately, before I made any permanent decisions, my brother-in-law tipped me off to Takomo Golf, a Scandinavian company that promotes the mantra that golf is for everyone by offering irons that won’t break your bank. That was certainly music to my ears.
As sleek and cool as they are budget-friendly, the Takomo 101 Irons were designed to offer forgiveness without affecting distance. So, if you’re like me and often crank a ball into the wild blue yonder (in this case, some beautiful Caribbean water), this set will help lessen the chance that a mishit ruins your round, because the thin faces have been precision-milled, which loosely translates to, “Even your worst shot might end up okay.” And these irons are proving to be godsends because I’ve played them on two rounds thus far, Skyforger Wedges included, and I’ve marveled at the way they’ve helped correct my worst habits. Even my friends have given them a go and they can’t believe the smoothness of the swing.
I’m extremely excited to take my Takomo irons to a lot of new courses in 2023 and continue to spread the gospel.
Takomo Pikku Bag
The other tough aspect of traveling with clubs is lugging your cart bag through an airport with an appropriate travel case. Takomo’s Pikku Bag is a slim enough Sunday style that it allows for light, convenient movement, while not requiring the bigger, padded cases to keep everything safe during flights and baggage handling. And even if you’re staying home and playing the local course, the jet-black style simply looks good.
Stitch Golf MUT Bag
A good golf travel bag isn’t hard to find, but one that is as innovative as it is helpful will certainly steal our hearts. That bag is the Stitch Golf MUT—Multiuse Traveler Bag—which not only offers the head-to-grip protection we desire while we’re cramped in our airplane seats, but also transforms into a regular roller duffle for when the clubs stay at home.
Duvin x Puma
Golf fashion is subjective, as anyone can see upon arrival at the course’s pro shop and driving range. Some people are consistent with their styles whether home or away, and others take the opportunity to be a little more creative in tropical settings. For the latter crowd, we present the Puma x Duvin golf polo and bucket hat, which bluntly scream, “I came to paradise for an incredible round of golf.”
Just don’t be surprised or embarrassed if Rickie Fowler shows up in the cart behind you, showing off the same swagger.
Carl’s Place Build Your Own Golf Simulator
According to the National Golf Foundation, as many as 12.4 million people played golf off-course in 2021. Obviously, the rise of Topgolf and similar businesses played a huge role in that, but there are also a lot of really cool simulators that people can have installed in their homes so they can experience the next-best-thing to playing some of the most beautiful courses in the world.
The biggest problem is that homes vary in size, and some people don’t have the space required for predetermined setups. That’s what makes the Carl’s Place Build Your Own Golf Simulator so ideal, because the golfer can determine and pay for what works best. Just the impact screen? Book it. A luxury home simulator on par with the kind you’d play at the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas? Smash that order button.
But don’t forget to also pick up the right gear. Carl’s Place has also launched its Off-Course Collection boasting comfy clothes for both lounging around the house and cranking a bomb right down the fairway in your own living room.
Arcade 1Up Golden Tee
A simulator might be a little too much for some golfers, so let’s go old school with it. The Arcade 1Up Golden Tee brings everyone’s favorite bar game (with respect to Silver Strike) into the comfort of your own home with the classic standup style that’s great for impressing guests and celebrating your own sense of nostalgia. And it’ll rarely, if ever, get old because this machine is programmed with Golden Tee Classic and the ’98, ’99, and 2K versions.
Pro tip: Practice when your friends aren’t visiting so it’s easier to whoop them when they are.
Insta360 ONE RS 4K Action Camera
I had just returned home from Maui and couldn’t wait to upload my golf video and photos from the Bay Course at The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. Except instead of my regular tradition of cringing as I rewatch my slice on a Par 3, my footage helped me realize that my backswing was way too high and straight, and that’s why my swing speed had dropped off to embarrassing numbers. All hail the versatility of the action camera!
About a month later, I lost my previous action camera while running around Aruba, and an influencer told me that all the kids are raving about the Insta360 these days. Specifically, the Insta360 ONE RS 4K Action Camera is celebrated for its high-quality video and photo capabilities in any settings, and especially its durability and battery life (compared to the well-known competition).
Just don’t leave it on a restaurant table somewhere in the Caribbean.
CEP Compression Sleeves
Older golfers, hear my call! It was only this year that I really started taking compression seriously. I’ve worn compression socks during flights in the past to see what the buzz was all about, and they certainly help keep my feet from feeling pain-free as I squeeze them under my backpack beneath the seat in front of me. But a round this week and next, as well as a couple next month and multiple driving range trips in between? The aches add up.
The CEP Compression Knee Sleeve has become a staple in my golf and travel kits because there’s just no such thing as too much comfort when your knee starts throbbing from a day spent walking the course or when your legs are in an awkward position for four hours because the passenger in the middle seat has no concern for the imaginary leg boundaries between seats. I’ve also been mixing in the CEP Ortho Ankle Sleeve because the old dogs tend to bark a little louder when they’ve been marching through the woods in search of lost golf balls.
This is where some golfers will disagree, but every round deserves a soundtrack. Some golfers love to play music while they’re playing, but other understandably want nothing in their ears aside from the chirping of birds and perhaps waves crashing. I like to exist somewhere in the middle, in that I love my 80s and 90s hip hop playlist bumping from my Treblab HD7 portable Bluetooth speaker, but I know better than to make it a distraction to other golfers. Let’s keep it peaceful out there.