The greatest thing any golfer can hear is when your child says, “I want to take up golf!”
You’re either a golfer yourself or you’ve never played and think “where did that come from?” Either way you may need help when choosing the right clubs for your child. Here we will look at choosing the right clubs for a complete beginner to advanced juniors transitioning into adult clubs.
There are too many things to be considered when doing a comprehensive club fitting to be able to list here. Fortunately there are junior golf clubs available that have already done the hard work for us. Companies like USKids Golf have years of experience in creating the right club for specific heights and abilities so that you don’t have to worry whether you are doing the right thing. Below I have listed a few (not too many to confuse) options for your budding / advanced junior golfer. The temptation to pay a fortune thinking that you’re doing the right thing may not necessarily be the correct choice in these circumstances. It is often wiser to choose the expertise of specialist manufacturers than ones who’s main business is for adults but they offer a token gesture to juniors.
As an experienced club fitter I have specialised in fitting juniors for the past 10 years and I can honestly say there are 2 types of customers. Those that will take on board your advice and those that think their youngster is far stronger, faster and more advanced than any kid has ever been. The latter often want adult clubs cut down. Both categories are fine as there are usually solutions to fit all of the child’s’ wants and needs.
To start with, a beginner doesn’t need to complicate things. Size and strength don’t necessarily translate into club head speed. Any beginner needs the right clubs to be able to build a correct swing plane in order to advance to the next level. This usually means something light and flexible. Light so that the club isn’t too difficult to control through the swing and flexible so that it increases club head speed and helps to get the ball in the air. This is important to try and get used to a correct ball flight and ultimately it goes further. (More about that later)
There are a couple of offerings that are ideal for beginners.
US Kids, in my opinion, make the best junior golf clubs around. They generally cater for all stages of the child’s’ advancement. They only make junior clubs and therefore don’t concentrate on the more lucrative adult golf market so what they make has to be good.
They essentially make 2 different types of golf clubs. (3 if you count ‘The Yard Club, which is a single club with an oversized head, aimed at allowing toddlers to have their first experience of hitting a golf ball.)
These are the ‘Ultralight’ series and the more advanced ‘Tour Series’ (TS3)
For the child who is relatively new or a complete beginner the ‘Utralight’ series provides different length club sets depending on the height of the child. Each length is colour coded and is designed to have the perfect swing weight and lie angle together with the right loft for any golfer using those clubs. All the work regarding fitting has essentially been done for you, you just have to choose the correct length. (This is the best chart to use) By doing this your young golfer will learn to build their swing around the perfect club. This means that as they grow they will develop a good swing plane which will leave them in good stead as they improve.
The quality of these clubs is second to none for the purpose they serve.
Alternatively, there is the offering from Masters Golf. A slightly cheaper set which are measured in height like the USKids clubs and are colour coded, like the USKids clubs. Again there is no need to have them fitted other than to the right length as you’re trying to encourage your young golfer to develop a standard shaped swing. These are perfectly good golf clubs but the lower price, in my opinion, shows in the lower quality. The old adage, ‘you get what you pay for’ does apply here but there’s not that much in it. The difference is in the quality of materials used for the shafts and the iron itself. If it’s a cheaper set you’re looking for, just to get them started, then these are a reasonable alternative. Probably not a bad choice for younger beginners as they do have a look about them for younger kids.
Advanced junior golfers have a little more choice. My first and best recommendation is again USKids Golf, but this time, we can choose the Tour Series (TS3) These look very similar to most cavity backed adult clubs but are designed perfectly to have the correct swing weight and lie angle that your child should be playing with to keep / develop a great swing. These come in a choice of graphite shafted irons through all of the sizes or steel shafts in irons from 57” upwards. The reason for this is that we can have advanced golfers who are still young and small so that they may have grown out of the ‘Ultralight’ quality but not size. It would be a big step to go from ‘Utralight’ to steel shafted TS3 so the option for high quality graphite shafts keeps the club lighter and in turn doesn’t flatten the swing. These also come with the option to add specialist wedges to the set e.g. gap wedge and lob wedge.
If your youngster is swinging a Driver with a club head speed of 80mph or lower these are the clubs for them. The woods and irons compliment each other for great consistency through the set. (Your local golf professional or fitting centre should be able to tell you a club head speed)
If the swing speed for the Driver is anything above 80mph then I would start to consider upgrading the woods only to one of the main adult brands. This is because the shaft length in a wood can be altered to fit much easier without affecting the clubs performance or weight. There are many adult shafts available for each adult driver and a good fitter would be able to help you choose the correct one.
I would, however, still recommend the TS3 Irons until such a time that the junior is of a height and strength to use adult irons without more than half an inch cut off the length.
Another alternative is the Ping Prodi G Junior Clubs
This is what Ping say
“Prodi G junior sets offer the same score-lowering technology of our adult sets custom-engineered to fit golfers ages 7 to 13 and between 4′ 5″ and 5′ 2″. With the “Get Golf Growing” Programme, buy at least five clubs and you’re entitled to a one-time, no-charge service to have the clubs re-shafted or lengthened, re-weighted, and re-gripped as the golfer grows.”
They are very good quality but are priced way higher than the others to account for them being reshafted in the future. The height range is minimal so you’d really need to be close to the bottom end of the scale to be able to take advantage of this feature. Not all golf retailers can get hold of these clubs and being fitted for them is difficult as fitting centres don’t have the same level of options available as they do for adult clubs. You can always opt for the standard lie angle (Black dot for Ping clubs) and just be fitted for length. If money is no object then you could always book a fitting at the Ping centre in Gainsborough.
If you do take your child to be fitted for clubs be aware that most golf shops don’t specialise in junior golf or even stock any junior equipment. They may therefore try to convince you to opt for adult clubs with shorter graphite shafts and as I have previously stated this makes the swing weight all wrong.
Don’t be overwhelmed by this, it really is a lot more simple for junior golfers than it is for adults. Work on height first. If you can get the clubhead speed measured that can help you determine which model of club you should go for, e.g. Ultralight or TS3. This should also help you decide whether they should be graphite or steel shafts.
For an example of checking which clubs are best for which speeds click here https://www.uskidsgolf.com/60-player-height
If you have any questions as to which are the right ones for your child email the guys at www.everyshotcounts.co.uk and they’ll offer great advice