I‘ll Just Cut Down Some Clubs For My Kid; That’s Good Enough
Gerry McIlroy, Rory’s father, has probably spawned more fantasies in the minds of fathers than a hidden click on playboy.com. Beats there the heart of a father that didn’t quicken when he saw Rory hugging his father after winning his first major championship at the 2011 US Open? Yet, despite all that, there is one thing that Gerry has said that seems to get consistently lost in the hoopla: “I always made sure that Rory had clubs that fit.”
Let me put it this way. If you want to make dead certain that your little Rory or Yani will develop a swing that has no chance of succeeding, all you have to do is cut down a set of your clubs and give them to them. They will be too heavy, too stiff, the wrong loft and lie angles, and probably the wrong length. Other than that, they will be just what the kid needs to develop a great swing… for chopping firewood.
Should you perhaps cut one down just to find out if he or she will enjoy taking cuts at a golf ball? Sure, that makes sense, although you might first try to hunt for a single junior club these days on Ebay or at a used sports equipment store. As soon as you hear them ask for another bucket and complain about leaving the range too soon, that’s the time to get them some proper clubs which are fit to their size, strength, and athletic ability.
Since 2000, there are a couple of companies that have made a real niche for themselves offering good quality pre-made junior sets. Lofts are friendly, lies are flatter, shafts are more flexible, weights are lighter, and grips are smaller. They typically offer the sets in pre-made categories of “age 5–8” and “age 9–12” with the substantial difference being their lengths, judged on the basis of average height data for kids in these two age groups.
The only drawback to the pre-made junior sets bought off the rack may be their price and the possibility that your junior happens to be outside the “national average” for height for their age from which the standard lengths of these age group sets are created. Thus, we come back to your local professional clubmaker who can custom build your kids a set as well. And don’t panic about that “cu$tom built” part. It’s been my experience that the vast majority of custom clubmakers do not charge prices for their junior clubs that come close to the prices you would pay for the pre-made premium branded standard age group junior sets found in retail golf shops.
You also have to resist the temptation to buy clubs that are too long with the expectation that they will “grow into them.” They might well do that, but if they are too long, you are forcing them to learn the game with something that may very likely cause them to develop a bad swing just to handle the longer length; and you know how hard it is to UN-learn that bad swing. One of my cohorts in my company still fights “flipping the club up” at the bottom of his swing because his first driver when he was a kid was a cut down club with only 8.5 degrees of loft.
If that means you need to get them a new set every year or two, get over it. As long as your kid is really into the game, it’s a better deal than those tap-dancing lessons you sprang for, not to mention the $125 glow-in-thedark basketball shoes they just had to have (this month anyway). You’re giving them a gift that will literally keep giving back to them for the rest of their lives, long after you’re gone. That’s no small thing. Besides, it’s a small price to pay for watching your son walk up the eighteenth fairway at the US Open with an 8-stroke lead, or your daughter take that dive into the pond at the Dinah Shore, right?