Choosing the right equipment for your son or daughter can be expensive, but doesn’t have to be especially when given a few helpful hints…
So your son or daughter has had a few golf lessons, perhaps as part of a scheme taking golf into schools. Fantastic, you think. It’s a great game, it teaches youngsters all about good conduct and fair play, and gives them fresh air and exercise in abundance, away from their computer games. And then you need to think about their equipment. However, before you go out and blow your bucks on a junior set, it is best to make sure your child is genuinely keen, and you’re not going to be flogging a couple of hundred pounds’ worth of kit on eBay within three months.
First things first – try SNAG
WSNAG, which stands for ‘Starting New at Golf’, is fantastic for children just getting into the game. Available from the Masters Golf Company, SNAG provides a complete learning kit for kids. There are just two clubs – a 42 inch loft ‘Launcher’, and a ‘Roller’ which acts as a putter. They may look like toys, but in fact they are individually and correctly swing-weighted, and are designed to get children hitting the ball accurately and putting smoothly. They even include colour coded pentagonal grips to ensure correct hand placement, and are the teaching equipment of choice for many pros. Four sizes are available, and SNAG is appropriate for children from age four to adult.
The soft, large balls which come with the clubs are in fact golf ball weight but low compression, and have a maximum carry of around forty metres – so they emulate the motion of hitting a golf ball, without the potential for damage. The ball is hit off a special ‘launch pad’ tee mat, which enables SNAG to be played almost anywhere, off any surface, with no danger of broken glass or injury.
To make the game even more enjoyable, SNAG comes with a variety of accessories to help children hit the ball more accurately. There is a ‘Flagsticky’ which acts as a pin, made adhesive with a Velcro-like lining; a similarly sticky ‘Bullseye’, for target practice with the Launcher, and a ‘Rollerama’, for putting practice. There is also a selection of portable targets and a padded jacket, so children can play a version of tag, hitting the balls at each other. Because they are soft, there is no danger of injury, and the full kit includes a helmet for extra protection.
A basic pack, consisting of a ‘Launcher’ and a ‘Roller’, two soft balls and a ‘Launch Pad’ has an RRP of £59.99 and the other elements can be bought separately.
Moving On Up
Once your child is really showing some determination to continue with golf, then it is time to consider ‘proper’ clubs. Once again, the Masters Golf Company are experts in this field, and have several sets for juniors, dependent on their height, ability and experience.
Their new ranges include several features thoughtfully designed to help juniors develop their skills. Junior golfers tend to use a greater variety of clubs within their set as they get taller and their game develops, so the ranges reflect this need for flexibility. The sets for the youngest players carry a wood, three irons and a putter, going up to a full set with a fairway wood and hybrid for taller juniors. In fact, Masters has deliberately assessed the youngsters’ needs in terms of height, rather than age, recognising that a tall four year old might have the same requirement as a shorter six year old. There are further helpful features, too, such as short shot and long shot markers on the grips.
The MC-J110 series – for the enthusiastic beginners
To start off with, the MC-J110 series offers fantastic value to the parents of young golfers who are just starting out. They are manufactured in three colour-coded height ranges, for children up to 5 feet, and are available as individual clubs or starter sets, with a choice of woods and irons, a putter and bag.
The irons enjoy a thin profile and broad sole, lowering the centre of gravity to help get the ball in the air. Like the irons, the driver is made of a lightweight titanium matrix, and there are hybrid and fairway wood options as well. Packs start from just £59.99, with woods available for £14.99 and irons and putters selling at a recommended £9.99.
The MC-J510 series – for the keen youngster
This set is aimed at juniors who really want to progress. Masters’ research has established that it will also be the junior range of choice for many teaching pros, helping the learning process with consistent results and so allaying many of the frustrations which juniors experience. There are three height ranges within the series, all colour-coded, for children and young adults up to 5’6″.
The irons are manufactured from 17/8 stainless steel, to tight loft, lie and weight tolerances, with progressive off-set which makes the long irons easier to hit. A broad sole provides a low centre of gravity, allowing more weight to go directly behind the ball for a solid strike and higher trajectory. The lightweight graphite shafts reduce the overall weight of the club by 20% for children under 5 feet, whilst taller youngsters are provided with a low torque steel option, to help them make the transition to an adult set. There are two putter choices – a traditional and a two-ball design.
The MC-J510 series comes either as a club pack or the clubs can be bought individually. In the packs, the number of clubs included are designed to suit different heights, and a starter pack costs from £132.49, whilst woods cost a recommended £27.49 and irons £22.49. Putters start at £17.99. The MC-J710 driver – for the stars of the next generation.
Finally, the new MC-J710 driver is for juniors who are serious about their golf. It has a 350cc lightweight titanium head, allowing for a larger head size and correspondingly, a lower centre of gravity to get the ball airborne, and a higher COR for more distance. It also features two moveable weights, so the junior golfer can adapt it to provide a draw, neutral or faded ball flight.
Bags and Trolleys for Juniors
It’s also possible to buy bags and even trolleys, specifically designed for junior golfers. Masters MB-JS110 stand bag has a 6.5 inch top with a six-way divider, and is available in small, medium and large, for youngsters of different ages. The weight has been kept as low as possible, to make it easier for juniors to handle – the large bag weighs only 1.4kg, with the medium and small versions correspondingly less. And there is a trolley bag to match, along with light, small, easy-to assemble trolleys for juniors such as the MC-J110, which has three bag supports to fit any size of bag. These junior bags and trolleys will set you back between £25 and £30, on average.
Whichever options you choose, from the absolute beginners’ sets to the more refined clubs aimed at the serious junior golfer, the most important thing is to match your purchases to the needs of your child, and adjust your budget accordingly. There’s no point spending hundreds of pounds when he or she is just starting out – but a few years down the line, if your child is winning tournaments and is still passionate about golf, then a higher investment will pay dividends.