Have you ever tried to walk in cement shoes?
Chances are kids feel that way when trying to swing a golf club that isn’t right for them. When introducing kids to golf, parents often think they need to choose between proper instruction and good equipment.
The fact of the matter is, as an instructor, it is nearly impossible to help kids develop the proper foundation for their swing when the clubs aren’t right for them.
With all of the options available, finding the right set of junior golf clubs may feel daunting. It doesn’t have to be that way.
As a parent, the first thing you need to ask is: What is a realistic goal for my child and the game of golf? If you just want them to get out and swing a golf club with you without focusing on improving their swing mechanics, then Grandpa’s cut-down forged blades will suffice. If you are looking to get them started by learning the proper fundamentals, are considering registering them for a local junior golf program or camp or hoping they’ll learn enough about the game and their swing to play a round of golf with you, then start them off with clubs that will maximize those opportunities.
The Most Important Factors For Fitting Junior Golf Clubs
There are four key aspects to properly fitting a golf club for your child.
- Lie Angle
- Grip Size
Narrowing it further, getting the length and weight right is crucial for your child’s first set.
The number of club companies that offer junior golf club sets has grown exponentially. However, US Kids Golf is the one company I have come across that consistently accomplishes the goal of fitting by length and weight, making it easy for me to teach proper swing mechanics.
US Kids Clubs have two different weight categories; Ultralight and Tour Series. Ultralight has nine different height categories while the Tour Series has six. The weight you choose should be based on how fast your child swings the golf club.
For example, let’s say your child fits into a 51-inch set. At this height, they have the option to go with either the Ultralight or Tour Series. You’ll want to get your child to a club fitter or instructor who will be able to measure their clubhead speed to see into which category they would fit.
Other Options in Junior Golf Clubs
EPEC has the most unique fitting system of any of the junior golf club companies. They offer three different club sets (five, seven or nine clubs), in eight different height categories but the sets can be upgraded by shaft and head weight as the child grows.
You pay for the initial set and from there the upgrade charges are $15 for shafts and $5 for heads. You can also purchase individual clubs. So as the child gets older and wants to add more clubs to their bag, that’s an option as well. I’ve only seen a handful of juniors swing with these clubs but, from what I’ve observed, the weighting of these clubs is pretty comparable to US Kids Clubs.
Top Flite and Strata
The heaviest clubs I have come across in my teaching experience are the Top Flite and Strata junior sets which most people get from a sporting goods store such as DICK’S.
With both of these sets, unless the junior is in the top 10 percent in clubhead speed for their age, they are going to struggle with building speed and creating good swing mechanics.
They also have a more limited selection in height sizes so I typically see juniors come in with clubs a lot longer than they should be. When that happens, instruction has to be adjusted to include things like gripping down on the club and trying to get them to swing the club on a more inside path, instead of coming over the top because the club is so heavy.
Imagine swinging a sledgehammer. That is basically what it is like for a child trying to swing a club that’s too heavy. My findings are based on years of observation during thousands of lessons with juniors over the last 10 years. I would like to see some junior club testing to put some data behind these observations.
Many other companies offer junior sets, such as PING, TaylorMade and others. As mentioned, there are multiple equipment options to choose from.
How Long Will A Set Of Junior Golf Clubs Last My Child?
A child grows an average of 2 ½ to three inches per year. With most junior golf club sets, there is between a three- and five-inch progression in club length as your child grows. US Kids offers as little as three inches between sets while companies like Callaway, Top Flite and Wilson offer junior sets that spread out six to eight inches between sets.
Another thing to keep in mind is that boys and girls who are in the 50th percentile in height and weight are similar until age 11. So, if you have multiple children getting into the game, you’ll likely be able to reuse quality junior clubs with your other children for quite a few years.
What Are The Benefits To Starting With A Properly Fitted Set?
There is a long list of proper swing mechanics that come with a properly fitted set of clubs. Going back to what I mentioned, your child won’t look like they are swinging a sledgehammer when the club is the proper length and weight.
Other improved mechanics will include:
- Improved trajectory – When the length and weight of the club are optimized, it will be easier for your child to get the ball in the air.
- Greater ability to get the club on plane – This goes back to our sledgehammer example.
- Better swing speed and tempo – Imagine swinging a yardstick versus a baseball bat. The lighter the object, the more efficient kids typically are in the transition from backswing to followthrough.
- Increased rotational ability – Lighter clubs allow the shoulders and upper body to rotate on plane more easily and create more separation between upper and lower body.
- More centered contact – All things considered, if your child is properly aimed at the target, they are more likely to hit the center of the clubface more consistently if they are swinging the club on plane with proper rotation.
- Better balance – Swinging with heavy clubs is like playing a losing battle of tug of war with the golf club.
How Much Is This Going To Cost?
A new, good quality set of junior golf clubs of the proper length and height will cost between $150 and $350 depending on brand, number of clubs and height.
Many club fitters and instructors offer trade-in deals when your child grows out of a set.
That upfront cost may save you time and money in the future by not having to pay an instructor who is trying to undo the bad habits caused by poorly fitted clubs.
What Do I Do Now?
We are all built differently and we all swing differently. Just as it is for adults, the best way to get your child into the correct set of clubs is to reach out to a local club fitter or qualified teaching professional. This will help ensure they are getting started with the best-fitting equipment for them.
Whomever you choose to see, the big question to ask is how they fit a junior for a set of clubs.
You’ll want to find out what junior sets they have available and make sure they are checking your child’s height and have a way to measure how fast your child swings the golf club. If they can accomplish the goal of getting your child into a set that is the proper length and weight, then the chances your child will enjoy the game of golf will increase significantly.