Golf – It’s Child’s Play

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.

Shaft Flex

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?

-Par Shooter

*To receive Dunham’s coupons and information on new products, events and sales, sign up for Dunham’s Rewards.

Walk a Mile in “Your” Shoes

Whether geared toward a specific sport or a certain type of exercise, sneakers have always been designed to enhance the wearer’s workout. However, new innovations in footwear have led to the creation of another exercise-improving shoe: a sneaker aimed at toning wearers’ muscles in the legs and buttocks while they work out.

Less Stable, More Muscle

These shape-changing shoes are formulated to enhance definition in the wearer’s legs and buttocks by creating an unstable surface to work out on. When the body is unstable, it is harder to stay balanced, which forces the muscles to work harder. This results in a tougher and more effective workout. It can even create a workout out of a basic walk.

Easy Toning

Reebok’s new line for women, EasyTone, is one example of this innovative design. To create the necessary level of instability, EasyTone uses moving air technology called balance pods, which are situated underneath the heel and forefoot of the shoe and result in a sensation similar to walking on sand.

Reebok  says EasyTone was designed for busy women. “For women, it’s all about getting more from their workout. Even if they can’t get to the gym, they’re still getting their exercise during their everyday errands by just walking around in EasyTone shoes.”

So popular is the women’s line, Reebok has developed a men’s EasyTone collection that is set to hit stores this spring. Also in stores is the RunTone, a shape-enhancing shoe designed for runners.

Tighter Muscles and Better Posture

Sketchers’ Shape-Ups, another muscle-toning shoe, not only help increase muscle definition, but can improve blood circulation, tighten abdominal muscles and reduce knee joint pressure.

Shape-Ups are designed with a wedge insert placed underneath the heel of the shoe. They also provide a rolling bottom that works to adjust wearers’ walks.

Exercise With Caution

While they are easily wearable throughout the day, most shape-enhancing shoes are not recommended for all forms of activity. Being off-balance can cause injuries (i.e., twisted or sprained ankles) when participating in action sports such as basketball or soccer. Thus, most shape-enhancing shoes are best utilized for lateral movement.

Easy and Effective

These new muscle-toning gym shoes won’t do all the work for you, but they will make it easier to get stronger, more defined muscles faster, with nearly the same amount of effort you would put into an average workout.

-Fitness Fanatic

*To receive Dunham’s coupons and information on new products, events and sales, sign up for Dunham’s Rewards.

Technology-The Golfer’s Friend

Golf, like everything else, has become a lot more complicated. Technology has taken over the sport. A generation or two ago a discussion on golf would include keeping your left arm straight and your eye on the ball. Now it’s as likely to include terms like “coefficient of restitution” (COR — the amount of energy transferred between the clubface and ball at moment of impact) or “moment of inertia” (MOI — the clubhead’s resistance to twisting when a ball is struck). It’s enough to make a science nerd turn in his pocket protector for a golf glove.

And nowhere has technology become more important in golf than with drivers.

What’s Your Driver Made Of?

The most dramatic change in driver technology can be attributed to golf’s “miracle metal” — titanium. Its light weight means more clubhead speed as well as a larger club face. The most noticeable result is more distance, but titanium is also more forgiving. That’s because of the larger “sweet spot,” which means you can hit the ball off-center and still have a very nice drive. The only drawback? Well, something this good has to be expensive.

Traditional steel drivers are very durable and offer a solid, consistent connection. A balance between the two materials can be found in composite designs which combine titanium and non-metal materials such as carbon. Manufacturers can vary which part of the head is titanium and which is not, aiming for the best possible weight balance.

Another technological advancement is the incorporation of plugs or weights in the head of drivers. Tungsten inserts are placed behind the face of the driver to add to the sweet spot. The position of the weight affects the way in which it works. The farther the weight is away from the face, the higher the ball flight it will produce. In more recent years companies have begun adding removable weights. Usually, up to four weights can be placed in the head of drivers to offer players different shapes and velocities. The rules of golf mean the weights cannot be changed during a round, but can be adjusted between rounds to change the player’s ball flight.

Golf Balls – Dimples, Layers and Drag

If technology is important in drivers then it’s really important in balls, because that’s what you’re trying to put in the hole. In the late 1900s golf ball dimples revolutionized the sport by helping them stay aloft and maintain trajectory. Ball manufacturers have introduced a number of multi-layer balls to optimize spin and distance.

A couple of years ago Taylor Made introduced its LDP, or “Low Drag Performance Ball” which is now part of every ball the company makes. Dean Snell, Senior Director of Golf Ball Research for the company, says it will help players at every level. The company’s research showed that players at all levels sometimes hit the ball off-center. That lowers the spin rate of the ball, sometimes more than 1,000 rpm, which causes the ball to knuckle, or simply fall out of the sky. The LDP technology counteracts that lower spin.

So, how does it work? Well, that’s a closely guarded secret, but Snell does say that “it involves varying dimple diameters, depths and edge angles in a symmetrical pattern to maintain the spin rate of the ball.” We told you this was complicated.

So, between titanium drivers and high tech golf balls, your game is going to get better; but when everybody plays with advanced equipment, it will still come down to player skill. And that hasn’t changed since the first Scotsman hit a rock with his stick.

-Par Shooter

*To receive Dunham’s coupons and information on new products, events and sales, sign up for Dunham’s Rewards.