Hireko’s Acer XK Protégé and the iBella Daisy Junior sets are two prime examples of clubs that allow today’s preteen to excel.
Junior golf clubs can be a generic term for any club sold to today’s youths. This encompasses a wide ranging scope as junior golf club clubs are marketed for kids as young as 3 years old to elite athletes in high school that may vie for the US Open or even play on one of the PGA Tours. But most junior golf club equipment is targeted to preteens (those younger than 13 years old).
Hireko’s Acer XK Protégé and the iBella Daisy Junior sets are two prime examples of clubs that allow today’s preteen to excel. There are some distinct differences between the equipment they need as compared with teenagers that parents should be fully aware of.
The junior clubheads are generally more lofted to allow for the ball to get
airborne quicker. A vast majority of preteen golf clubs today are die cast, manufactured from aluminum for the woods and hybrid and zinc for the irons and putter. The materials are less expensive in order to keep the overall cost down to determine if the young golfer will take up the game. These materials are also softer and expect them to get nicked up more than stainless steel or titanium heads
For preteens it is beneficial to look at some very flexible fiberglass shafts. One such example is the Apollo Shadow Junior Shaft. Younger kids do not have the physical strength to use a shaft that is heavy. Equally important, when cutting a shaft to the shorter length, the flexible fiberglass shaft will provide some feel and increased trajectory in
comparison to the alternatives.
It is no coincidence that smaller children will have proportionately smaller hands and fingers and require much smaller grip sizes. There are specific grips for preteens with the correct inside diameter
for ease of installation on the reduced butt sized junior shafts. Hireko offers a few different colored Karma junior models. For a softer feel or for those that might have an allergic reaction to rubber, Winn makes a couple junior models too.
Junior club heads often weigh less than adult clubs for a very good reason. It is more import to focus on overall weight since younger junior golfers
haven’t developed their muscles. Don’t be overly concerned about the swingweight. If the clubs were made properly, the swingweight would be approximately the same from one club to one another in the set. This is where the lighter weight junior clubheads, shafts and smaller sized grips play an integral role in reducing overall weight rather than cutting down Dad’s, Mom’s or a grandparent’s heavier clubs.
If clubs are too heavy, then they will have problems at the top of the swing. I believe I read where John Daly attributes his extremely lengthy back swing to using clubs that were too heavy at an early age.
Set Make Up
What is the best set make up for the preteen golfers? Typically for the very young golfer, a single lofted iron will suffice. Many 9-12 year old sets will consist of only 5 pieces (a high lofted tee club, 5 hybrid, 7 and 9 iron and putter). There is no need to offer too many choices, especially low lofted clubs in the bag because the youngsters won’t have the club head speed to get the ball airborne or simply notice enough distances between hitting the various clubs.
Purchase By Height Not By Age
Remember to fit club length based on the child’s ability and height, rather than age. Many junior equipment for preteen are sold by age groups.
The two most common groups are targeted for 5-8 year olds and another for the 9-12 age groups. The lengths are often based on average heights of children in these age groups. But I really prefer height-based charts for kids, especially if the child is taller or shorter than their classmates. A better way to purchase is by height so I suggest children in 48-54” range would fit better into the 5-8 year old group and 54-60” height ranges would fit kids in the 9-12 year old range.
If you select clubs that are too long to allow the kids to grow into them you probably will have less than desired results. Fit the child right the first time, then they will have fun and make this a game for a lifetime. If your preteen grows to near the 5-foot range, then junior clubs may no longer be an option. The shafts may be too flexible and clubs too short. They may now fit into adult clubs properly sized with ladies or A-flex (amateur) shafts and larger grips. Use your discretion wisely.
Hopefully this explains the differences of junior clubs marketed directly to preteens and adults clubs, but more importantly why. As many of you know, golf is not an easy game. But the right equipment can make the game less of a challenge and enjoyable. After all golf is still a game.