At age 3 Tiger Woods beat Bob Hope in a putting contest. By 5 he had begun demonstrating his remarkable talents on national television.
Okay, Tiger Woods was a once-in-a-generation prodigy. And the chance your kid is the next Tiger Woods is about the same as you facing Tiger in sudden death at Augusta. But that’s not the point. You enjoy golf even if you’ll never play on the PGA Tour, and you want your kids to have the same opportunity.
So When Do You Start?
There’s no “right” age to introduce a child to golf. There are prodigies and plenty of kids are playing some version of golf at age 5. Others don’t start until high school or later and still develop a lifelong attachment to the sport. What’s important, says American Junior Golf Association Media Relations Director Sarah Wagoner, is to consider the individual. “It really depends on what you are comfortable with and what your child is comfortable with.”
Nobody should force a child into any kind of activity, but exposing them to the sport will often generate an interest. Watching tournaments on television and talking about the game and players, for example. The next step could be putting on the carpet, and then maybe miniature golf and then a driving range. At some point it should be easy to tell whether your son or daughter really wants to golf. If so, it’s time to buy a starter set.
Junior Golf Clubs
Fortunately, numerous manufacturers make starter sets for youth that fit their game and don’t cost a fortune. Here’s what to look for in buying clubs for your son or daughter.
This is the first consideration. You want the right length, but with some room to grow into. Clubs that let the child choke down one to two inches will give them that flexibility. Anything beyond two inches, however, will likely force them to fundamentally change their swing, and that’s the last thing you want. Up to two inches and you’ll probably get at least another year out of the set.
The main problem with cut-down clubs for juniors is the stiffness of the shafts. When you take 4-5 inches of length off a golf club, you make the shaft extremely stiff. And this explains why juniors using cut-down clubs are unable to get any height on their shots.
One good thing with new sets is that the manufacturers are now using light weight steel and graphite to make shafts that are the right flex for kids’ swing speeds. Using light-weight steel and graphite have made junior golf clubs more playable. Bend the shafts of any clubs to make sure they are flexible.
Just like with shaft flex, most club companies make junior clubs with lighter heads and shafts. So before you buy, just make sure to check the overall weight of the clubs. You want clubs that are light enough to fit your child’s age.
In the past, adult clubs were cut down to size for juniors with little thought to the grip. But an oversized grip will cause swing problems. Look for junior clubs that have junior-sized grips. If you’re changing grips, look for a thinner core size of .50.
You already know how important your clubs are to your game. Starting your child with the right set will set the stage for a lifelong love affair with the game of golf.
What is your earliest memory of playing golf?