Small Wonders: The Right Set of Clubs Makes a World of Difference
Trust a parent who’s been through this twice: A child’s introduction to golf can be a short-lived proposition, particularly if there’s not instant success and plenty of fun involved.
For kids to come back for more, they need to have control over their golf club during the swing and see their shots get airborne. That means using clubs bearing the proper length, weight, lofts and grip size for their small bodies and limited strength. Trimmed-down adult clubs are not going to cut it here. In fact, children trying to swing a grown-up’s heavier chopped-down stick may well develop a lifetime of bad swing habits as they labor just to sweep the clubhead back and up during their backswing.
The solution? Clubs specifically geared for juniors that “make it easier to swing and develop good technique,” says Jason Finley, Callaway’s global director of product strategy for balls and packaged sets. “If your kids want to hit golf balls, you want them to enjoy it. So it’s really important to give them a good fit right from the start and have the best-possible experience.”
Don’t complicate matters. For young kids just starting out, keep their club choices simple, initially letting them learn to hit maybe four clubs. And because kids grow quickly, there are some advantages to buying clubs from US Kids Golf, a brand devoted to junior sticks: The company sells single clubs at different lengths for every three-inch height spurt a child goes through, and has a program in which you can trade in outgrown clubs for credit towards the next size up.
A sampling of what’s being offered by some major brands:
Callaway’s XJ Hot ($300/complete set) comes in separate models for boys and girls, differing only by color. Increased hosel offset helps square the clubface at impact, for distance and accuracy. The club construction and perimeter weighting help get the ball up in the air quickly and easily.
PING’s Thrive ($665) includes 10 clubs. They are geared for kids aged 13-14 or those between 60 and 64 inches tall. Lightweight graphite shafts help generate clubhead speed and ball velocity for distance. Set highlights include a driver specifically made to ease tee-shot launching, a hybrid 5-iron, a forgiving Anser putter and a lightweight carry bag.
Just-introduced, TaylorMade’s Phenom ($249/K40 six-piece set for ages 5-8; $299/K50 eight-piece set for ages 9-12) includes a forgiving 400cc titanium driver that yields distance and easy launch, an easy-to-hit fairway wood, a versatile steel Rescue club, perimeter-weighted and offset irons and wedge; and a heel-toe weighted mallet putter. Each set also includes an ultra-lightweight carry bag.
Tour Edge’s HP25 Varsity ($300/set; $230/starter set) is for young teens who’ve outgrown a kid’s set but aren’t quite ready for adult clubs. The set includes a 460cc, high-MOI titanium driver that’s forgiving, a low-profile 3-wood, a hybrid designed to get shots airborne with carry, oversized irons with extreme heel-toe weighting, a heel-toe putter, and a lightweight stand bag.