A PGA Jr. League player at Augusta Ranch Golf Club in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Dave Puente/PGA of America)
As a coach who oversees the swings of a lot of junior golfers, I find it imperative to ask representatives from some of the biggest golf companies about what new youth equipment lines they have in store each year.
Here’s what a few of them had to say:
Callaway offers four different sets: the XJ1, XJ2, and XJ3. All three are junior sets that increase in number of clubs and become longer (lengths) for juniors as they get older. Callaway also offers its XT set, which has more clubs, is longer and designed more for a teenager as they transition from a junior set to a full-sized set.
The company tries to focus on providing the clubs needed as young players grow into the game, from technology to the performance. For example, their smallest set for the youngest kids, the XJ1, includes a wood, iron, wedge and putter. 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.”
Engineered with the score-lowering technologies of its adult lines and fueled by a commitment to introduce more juniors to the game, PING offers their Prodi G Junior Clubs.
The custom-engineered set is comprised of 11 clubs: a 15-degree titanium driver, 22-degree fairway wood, 27-degree hybrid, perimeter-weighted irons (6-9, PW), two specialty wedges (52- and 56-degree) and a blade-style 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. The program helps address an all-too-common occurrence that results in a lot of junior golfers playing clubs not suited to their games.
“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.”
TaylorMade has seen wonderful traction with their Rory Junior Golf Set, which they first introduced in 2018. They're currently available in 7- and 5-club sets in both boys and girl’s designs.
The company jumped at the opportunity to collaborate with a tour player like Rory McIlroy, hoping it helps many youngsters fall in love with the game the way the four-time major champion did in Northern Ireland.
The Rory set has lightweight shafts and heads engineered for max forgiveness and easy launch. Plus, it comes in two configurations (4-Plus and 8-Plus) with each offered in two colorways (blue and pink), for 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.
TaylorMade also recently launched their Junior Spec custom fitting program, which gives the equipment brand the capability to precision fit junior golfers for all of their inline products, altering swing weight, shaft flex and length to meet juniors where their game is at. This is really targeted at the budding junior golfer who's 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. We've 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 that's aimed at supporting and inspiring diverse juniors along their golfing journey.”
Srixon-Cleveland Golf offers the Cleveland Junior set in three different sizes. Additionally, they offer KBS 560 and 580 shafts in all of their irons and wedges. 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.
The KBS shafts also allow Cleveland all the same flexibility to custom fit an adult, but for the elite junior. Typically these are reserved for the serious junior, as the cost is the same as adult clubs, and kids will typically only get a season or two out of these sets as they grow.
I asked Dan Randell, a Regional Account Manager for Srixon-Cleveland Golf, to expand on the features and benefits that both the youth box sets and new shaft options for older, more experienced young golfers were.
“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 that's 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 that's the worst case — becoming a lifelong golfer. Best case they become future tour players that play our product, or PGA Members who join our staff and help us sell the product. There really is zero downside to growing junior golf from an equipment point of view."