December 11, 2008

Don't Go Too Long

Clubfitting is crucial for junior golfers

Two common problems juniors have are directly related to equipment. First, they're using clubs that are too long, too stiff and too heavy—like a student at my academy, Jose-Carlos Diaz, is doing here.

The second problem is a result of the first one: With a club that is too long, too stiff and too heavy, a smaller player swings on an arc that is too flat relative to his height, so the swing bottoms out behind the ball.

And simply cutting the shafts down to a shorter length isn't the right answer. If you're going from a men's regular flex shaft—which is already too stiff for a kid—cutting it down justmakes that shaft even stiffer. A slow-swinging young player already has enough trouble getting the ball to fly at the right trajectory. Stiff, heavy clubs with grips that are too big for him will just make that more difficult.

junior golfer

SIMPLE FIX (ON RIGHT)

The right club length, flex and weight will make it easier for your junior player to swing on the right plane and bottom out at the ball.


HOW I SEE IT

Groove Rule: Good For The Tour's Best

The USGA is changing the requirements for grooves on irons to try to prevent tour players from being able to spin the ball as much from the rough.

By dialing grooves back to the old V-shape instead of the sharp-edged U-shape in current clubs, the USGA is telling players that they're either going to have to hit more fairways or be a lot more talented out of the rough. That's good news for the best players, who get an even greater advantage when skill is what is being measured and rewarded rather than just having access to the best equipment technology.

The net effect will be that the top players won't hit it as far, because they're going to have to go back to a softer ball to get some of that spin back. That's a positive for the game.

What does it mean for the average guy? We'll see in 2010, when all new clubs have to conform to the rule—not just the ones "expert players" are using. I don't like the idea that the game will be harder for the average player, but I'm not sure how many 20-handicappers are backing up shots out of the rough anyway.

You'll still be able to use the clubs you have now for at least 15 years, so there'll be time to adjust. And I bet manufacturers will come up with some new tricks, too.

Haney runs the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy on Hilton Head Island and owns four golf schools in Texas.