Buying your child, grandchild, niece or nephew their first set of golf clubs is a fantastic gift as golf is one of the few sports that can be played from 4 to 84! Getting them started on the right track with the right set of clubs is half the battle.
The golfing landscape of today is a far cry from that of the past, look at the top four golfers in the world at the moment, Jordan Speith (22), Jason Day (28), Rory McIlroy (26) and Rickie Fowler (27). They are all under 29.
Golf has a more youthful feel about it. Indeed golf has never been so accessible at the moment here in Ireland. The Celtic Tiger produced a large number of good quality new courses, the recession that followed reduced green fees, cut membership fees, and killed joining fees, waiting lists and Dark Age acceptance policies. Golf clubs are now welcoming juniors with open arms.
With junior membership fees in or around €100-€120 this represents fantastic value for money. Where else can your child spend the day and get their dinner and you do not have to worry about where they are or what they are up to.
The results of more juniors playing the game are there for us to see from an Irish perspective with the emergence of Paul Dunne and Shane Lowry moving onto another level by winning a WGC event last year.
When buying a set of junior clubs don’t be tempted to get the next age up. Bigger clubs are heavier to use and more cumbersome to swing, the result can frustrate juniors or put them off when they find it harder to get the desired results. Remember juniors are still growing and may not have developed the strength yet to handle heavier clubs which could result in a restricted backswing for example.
Also work off the child’s height rather than their age, they could be taller or shorter than average. It’s a good idea to get them measured to check the height range they fit into. They might be at the top of a particular height range so it may be advisable to move them on to the next set up. It’s hard to second guess how tall a child will grow over a period of time, but as a rule of thumb we say if they are 70% or over in a particular height range go to the next set up. We don’t want to see parents having to fork out for another set six months later.
Junior clubs are shorter, lighter, come with lightweight graphite shafts and narrower grips for smaller hands. Therefore in theory juniors should be able to swing the club back fully resulting in a better strike of the ball increasing both height and distance.
Once your junior has their first set of clubs we recommend contain your local pro to see if they are running any junior camps. Junior camps are a great way for kids to get started in golf. They are all at a similar level in terms of absolute beginners, make new friends and learn the basics correctly from day one.