Raven Nest golf professional Dean Choate, right, gives Sam Houston State freshman Dennis Reiner a tip on his golf swing Thursday. Choate has set up some holiday lesson packs for golfers who hope to shave some strokes off their score in the new year. Five one-hour lessons cost $225 and three one-hour lessons are $150. Reduced rates are available for junior golfers at Raven Nest. The golf pros at Elkins Lake charge $35 per lesson.

So, you’re stumped trying to figure out what Santa Claus should bring the biggest sports fan in your life.

Fret no longer. There are plenty of people right here in Huntsville ready and willing to help.

This year, Santa could bring Christmas gifts never thought of before, and he won’t have to go far to find them. Here are a few ideas to help put a smile on the face of your hard-to-buy-for sports fan(s).

Tickets, tickets and more


Have a hoop head in the house? What would they appreciate more than a stack of college or high school basketball tickets?

Sam Houston State and Huntsville High School are both offering discounted ticket packages for the remaining games on the 2010-11 schedules.

Give the gift that keeps on giving by purchasing an “Elite Eight” package of Bearkat basketball tickets. For $50, fans get tickets to seven Saturday home games, plus the Bearkats’ rivalry game against Stephen F. Austin on Jan. 26.

Yes, one of the “Elite Eight” games has already come and gone and another one is scheduled this Saturday against Cleveland State. But a super shopper can get on the horn today, order a couple of “Elite Eight” packages and drop them in their favorite stockings a few days before Santa comes to town.

Fans can purchase Bearkat basketball tickets in the Ron Mafrige Field House at Bowers Stadium on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by phone at (936) 294-1729. Online orders can be made at gobearkats.com.

Season tickets for the Hornets’ and Lady Hornets’ district home games also are available in the business office located in the Hawkins Administration Building through Dec. 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost is $25 for seven girls games, including tonight’s District 18-4A opener against Summer Creek, or seven boys games starting Jan. 4 when the Hornets tip off the 18-4A season against Humble.

For $45, fans can get tickets to both the girls and boys basketball games.

“That’s a really good deal,” Huntsville ISD athletic director Marcus Evans said. “Those tickets are in the lower section right on the court, so they’re also the best seats in the house.”

For more information or to order your Hornet tickets, contact Sherry Odom at (936) 293-2562.

If your favorite fan prefers baseball and softball to basketball, the Bearkats can help there, too. Season tickets for SHSU baseball start at $100.

Considering there are 33 home games on the 2011 schedule, and with a $6 price on general admission bench seats, fans who buy season tickets can save nearly $100.

For softball, general admission season tickets are $75. There are 17 home games on the 2011 schedule, so that’s a pretty good deal, too.

Get the golfers

out on the links

Golf fever never goes away in Texas. Even at Christmastime, folks can get outside and knock around that little white ball.

Want to make the golfer(s) in your family remember Christmas 2010 forever? Consider giving a gift that will help shave a few shots off the scorecard: lessons with a PGA-certified professional.

We’re lucky here in Huntsville to have several options, and all of them are good ones. Out at Elkins Lake, Ray Sarno, Kent Harger and Mark Dees all teach, and their fee ($35 per lesson) is more than reasonable.

“We give you a lesson and don’t put a time on it. Usually it’s 45 minutes, but it might be an hour,” said Sarno, the longtime head professional at Elkins Lake.

Raven Nest pro Dean Choate is offering two different holiday lesson packs, a three-lesson pack for $150 and a five-lesson pack for $225. Choate’s lessons last an hour, or golfers can choose the 30-minute lessons for $25. Choate has special rates for junior golfers — $20 for 30 minutes and $40 for an hour.

Elkins Lake and Raven Nest both have some snazzy merchandise — shirts, hats and jackets that golfers around here would greatly appreciate.

Golf balls are always a good idea too, but remember, some golfers are kind of particular about their equipment. If that’s the case, a gift certificate might be the way to go.

Old standbys

All right, if none of the above ideas sound appealing, or if they don’t fit the budget, there are some super safe gifts that always work better than socks, underwear and winter gloves.

Give the little gals, guys and their daddy new softball/baseball gloves. What about a soccer ball, tennis racket or basketball? Those are welcome, too.

Fishing and hunting gear will never be frowned upon. A new rod and reel, a shotgun or rifle can be mighty expensive, but maybe the outdoorsman in your family has been a really good boy this year. A new hunting knife, a scope for the gun and a new tackle box complete with hooks, weights, lures and plastic worms might fit the bill.

Leave the stink bait at the store. That might wipe out that fresh pine smell from the old Christmas tree.

And now for something

completely different

If you really want to do something new, how about going to the Bearkat Shop online (www.gobearkats.com) and give your favorite fan a memory that will last for years to come.

Do a little clicking on the Web and you can find DVDs of the Bearkats’ most memorable moments. Fans can sit by the fire and relive the 2004 football game against Montana, the regular-season game at Bowers Stadium, not the playoff loss to the Grizzlies. The wild and woolly come-from-behind playoff victory at Eastern Washington is also available.

Baseball fans can watch the Kats come back from the dead in the late innings to knock off Southern Miss in the 2007 NCAA Regional in Mississippi. There are DVDs of men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, even soccer, plus game programs and media guides are in the shop too.

There are plenty of creative ideas out there. Santa’s just got to put on his thinking cap, be resourceful and take a chance sometimes.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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