What you need to know about new youth golf equipment
By Brendon Elliott, PGA
As a coach overseeing the swings for many junior golfers, it is imperative that I ask representatives from the largest golf companies what new youth equipment they have each year.
Here’s what a few of them had to say:
Callaway offers four sets: the XJ1, XJ2, XJ3, and XJ4. All three are junior sets that increase in number of clubs and become longer (lengths) for juniors as they get older. Callaway also offers the XT set. This set has more clubs and is designed for teenagers as they move from a junior set into a full-sized set.
The company tries its best to provide the right clubs for young players to learn the game. The XJ1, their smallest set, is for children under five years old. It includes a wedge, putter, wood and iron. Callaway believes this makes it easier to learn the game at a young age while they’re still learning when to hit each type of club.
“We’re a big supporter of junior golf, and we’re committed to offering sets of clubs that make for an easy and enjoyable entry into the game for junior players,” says Jason Finley, Callaway’s Global Director of Golf Balls & Packaged Sets. “Whether they’re just getting into the game or looking to improve, we have equipment that’s designed to help them hit good shots and have fun.”
PING offers its Prodi G Junior Clubs, which are based on the score-lowering technologies of their adult lines and are motivated by a desire to bring more juniors into the game.
The custom-engineered set includes 11 clubs, including a 15-degree Titan driver, 22-degree fairwaywood, 27-degree hybrid and perimeter-weighted irons (6-9 PW), two specialty wedges (52/56-degree) as well as a blade putter. The lightweight clubs can be ordered in any combination, and all sets are custom-built according to the golfer’s WebFit (PING’s digital fitting tool) specs at PING’s Phoenix headquarters.
In developing the Prodi G line, PING’s Golf Science team created a junior fitting chart (a variation of the company’s iconic color code chart developed nearly 50 years ago) that takes into account a junior’s height and wrist-to-floor measurement to determine the appropriate lie angle and club length. The Prodi G clubs are recommended for juniors 4-foot-5 to 5-foot-2, and can be ordered in custom lengths based on the results of a fitting session.
PING also offers the “Get Golf Growing” program, an industry-first junior golf equipment initiative that includes a one-time, no-cost adjustment to sets of five or more Prodi G clubs. This program addresses a common problem that leads to many junior golfers choosing clubs that are not suitable for their game.
“One of the biggest barriers parents of junior golfers face is investing in a set of clubs that their kids will outgrow in a short time,” says PING President John K. Solheim. “Our ‘Get Golf Growing’ program is designed to be an affordable way to get juniors into high-performance custom-fit clubs. If they’re exposed to better equipment, they’ll enjoy golf more, which will ultimately help kids fall in love with golf and play it for a lifetime.”
TaylorMades Rory Junior Golf Set has received a lot of attention since it was first introduced in 2018. Theyre currently available in 7- and 5-club sets in both boys and girl’s designs.
The company jumped at an opportunity to collaborate with Rory McIlroy, a tour player who hopes it helps young people fall in LOVE with the game in the same way that the four-time major champion from Northern Ireland did.
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The Rory sets lightweight shafts have lightweight heads and are engineered for maximum forgiveness and easy launches. You can choose from two configurations, 4-Plus or 8 Plus, and each one comes in a choice of two colors (blue/pink), which are suitable for both boys and girls of all ages. Every set also comes with a St. Bernard dog headcover, inspired by McIlroy’s own, with a “Rors” signature on it.
TaylorMades Junior Spec custom fitting program was also launched recently by the brand. This allows TaylorMade to accurately fit junior golfers to all of their inline products. The program alters swing weight, shaft flex and height to suit the needs of juniors. This is really targeted at the budding junior golfer whos in the intermediate phase — too big and advanced for junior box sets, but not quite ready for full size clubs.
“We utilize top-end products, ensuring high-level performance throughout the bag for the competitive or aspiring junior dedicated to improving,” says Tony Starks, a Program Manager Copywriter for TaylorMade. “Our commitment to junior golf goes beyond the equipment we make, too. Weve been a trustee of First Tee since 2007, and in the last two years have developed a deep connection with the non-profit Youth on Course, helping to develop an initiative called DRIVE Club thats aimed at supporting and inspiring diverse juniors along their golfing journey.”
Srixon-Cleveland Golf has three sizes of the Cleveland Junior set. They also offer KBS 560 or 580 shafts for all their wedges and irons. Offering those shaft options is really geared toward that better junior who requires something better than a package set but isn’t tall enough for adult clubs yet.
KBS shafts give Cleveland the same flexibility as adults to make the shafts fit them, but they are designed for elite juniors. These are typically reserved for serious juniors as they cost the same as adult clubs. Most kids will only get a few seasons from these sets as they grow.
Dan Randell is a Regional Account Manager for Srixon Cleveland Golf. He was able to provide more details about the features and advantages of the youth box sets and the new shaft options that are available for older, more experienced golfers.
“For starters, the Cleveland Junior set comes with the best junior wedge on the market. Getting kids comfortable with the short game is key to long-term success in golf,” says Randell. “Other than that, it comes down to offering different sizes at an affordable price. Our set hits a great sweet spot of a quality brand name thats not expensive.”
Randell went on to share his thoughts on why it’s important for golf’s big brands to try and cater to the youth golfer.
“Juniors are extremely important because kids who are introduced to the game at a young age rarely ever leave,” adds Randell. “Maybe they lose interest for a little while, but they almost always come back as adults. And thats the worst case — becoming a lifelong golfer. They could become future tour players who play our product or PGA members who help us sell our product. From an equipment standpoint, there are no downsides to growing junior golf.