What Parents Need to Know about Junior Clubs
Golf is an endlessly difficult game, at least it is with the wrong equipment. Club-fitting has come a long way in the last 10 or so years in helping make the game easier for adults of all skill levels. However, junior club-fitting has been mostly ignored. As such, young players are usually trying to learn the game with clubs that make it more difficult, rather than easier. The worst thing you can do is give a junior a full sized adult club, and expect them to make beautiful golf swings like Tiger Woods. If you do this, don’t be surprised when they tell you “they don’t like golf”. It is just too hard for most kids to learn with poorly fit equipment. Well meaning parents often would cut that adult club down, which is better, but now the club is considerably stiffer, the swing-weight is off, and the grip sizes are still too big. Some juniors can handle this, if they are gifted athletically, but most will still struggle with this club. It is simply too hard to develop a sound swing with poorly fit junior clubs. Imagine yourself trying to swing a club built for a 7 foot tall long drive competitor. Good luck to you. We want to find clubs that properly fit our juniors, and help make the game easier to learn. Clubs need to be light, they need to have more flexible shafts, they need thinner grips, appropriate swing-weights, and they need to be progressive as they grow. Every year, parents enrol their children into golf programs and memberships, and each year I see junior after junior trying to learn with inappropriate equipment. It isn’t the fault of parents. Golf facilities, Golf Shops, and Golf manufactures on the whole do a very poor job of educating parents on what is an appropriate fit for juniors. The goal of this article is to educate parents on how to make better informed choices on the clubs they will buy for their young golfers.
The Club’s Effect on Technique
Clubs that are improperly fit often force juniors to adapt their movement
as they swing the club. If the club is too heavy, often juniors will recruit the wrong muscle groups to bring the club back, and have difficulty stabilising the weight of the club as it moves around them. This can pull them into compromised body positions that make it very difficult to swing with balance and strike the ball well. There are a number of poor movements that I have seen clear up and resolve themselves just by putting a lighter club in their hands. Imagine yourself trying to swing an axe as if it were a golf club. You would have a lot of trouble maintaining your posture throughout the swing and would develop some really poor movements.
If the club is too long, often juniors will have a very hard time getting into a good set-up position. They might raise their hands too high, push them too far forward, or make some other adaptation to handle the extra length. Also, with clubs that are too long, often the way the club sits on the ground will be considerably off, which influences the direction the ball will start. It is really important to get juniors into a good set-up position so that they can move well in the swing, clubs that are too long really hurt this.
If the grips are too thick, it makes it difficult for juniors to learn a good grip. With considerably less grip strength than an adult, it is important that they use a grip size that will allow them to control the club without having to squeeze too hard. What Should You Buy?
U.S. Kids Golf is by far the best brand on the market for junior clubs. They created an awesome system to fit kids into the correct clubs. Knowing that each 12 year old is different, some can be considerably taller and stronger than others, they decided to fit clubs by height, instead of by age. U.S. Kids produce 3 models of club; the Yard Club, the UltraLight Series, and The Tour Series. The Ultralight Series is the most popular, and a great set of clubs. You can also buy sets with different amounts of clubs, as many juniors only need 5 clubs, and some need more clubs. Most juniors do not need 14 clubs. You can learn more about U.S. Kids and their products by visiting their website here: https://www.uskidsgolf.com/
Kids should grow out of the clubs, not grow into them. You are going to have to purchase more than one set of clubs for your kids as they grow, just like clothes and sneakers. However, unlike clothing, where we all would buy one size UP and allow our kids to grow INTO them, clubs should be grown OUT of. If the equipment is too long, yes, your child can choke up. But remember that the club is weighted for an older, stronger child, so it will still feel heavy. Lightweight clubs help develop swing speed, power, and a correct swing plane, all with very little effort. We are growing a large network of junior golf families enrolled in coaching with Jake McNulty Golf. We envision a network of parents trading amongst themselves as their kids grow and need different sizes of U.S Kids Clubs. That will help keep the costs reasonable over the 4-8 years of development and growth.
*Juniors enrolled in Jake McNulty Golf coaching programs can order U.S Kids clubs at a discounted rate - contact Jake for Pricing My Junior is fully grown, what should I do?
My recommendation for nearly all juniors is to get the right size US Kids clubs, but there is a very small cohort of junior golfers where this isn’t appropriate. If your child is basically fully grown in size and strength, or is considerably skilled (at least 13 years old and playing regional level tournaments - consult a coach) then they should probably work with an adult club-fitter. That fitter will help them find a shaft combination that will be a little bit lighter and less stiff than usual adult equipment, but not as light and soft as US Kids junior equipment. In this case, it is wise to work with the fitter over the period of a couple years, as they will likely need to be re-fit into new shafts as they get their adult strength. At JMG, we like to refer people to great club-fitters like The SmashFactory (for those nearer London) or Jeff Shuster Golf (for those near Markham). Review We want to make the game as easy as possible to learn. It is already plenty hard enough. To do that, we need to give juniors clubs that are appropriate for them. U.S kids have the best clubs for juniors, and the best fitting protocols. Other brands are usually poorer quality, too expensive, or don't have enough (or labeled properly) sizes. You can't go wrong with getting the appropriate size U.S. Kids clubs, and your junior golfer will be set up to learn a balanced and powerful golf swing!