At Honu Putters, we are dedicated proponents of custom-fitted golf clubs - not just for putters but across the whole set. Custom fitting benefits adults, but it might be even more important for junior golfers. It's all too common to see young golfers playing with clubs that are much too long. The parents think "the child will grow into the clubs". What they don't realize is that it is impossible (and I really mean impossible, not just difficult) to hit an iron well if it has a bad lie angle. If the shaft is too long for the child, the lie angle is virtually guaranteed to be too upright.
The reason is simple. When the lie angle is too upright, the sole of the iron does not sit flat on the ground. The heel rests on the ground and the toe sticks up in the air. The sweet spot - in the middle between the heel and toe - is also up-in-the air relative to it's designed height. With the ball sitting on the ground, it is impossible to contact the ball with the sweet spot without gouging into the ground, because the sweet spot is higher than the ball. This can result in many different problems.
The child might simply avoid irons because they cannot get a good result.
They might learn to hit too close to the heel, that being the only place on the club that can actually reach the ball. Heel strikes rob distance, fly too low, risk shanking, and start off in the wrong direction. The child is likely to develop goofy swing quirks to compensate for those problems.
If they can't manage the near-the-heel strike, they are likely to skull a lot of shots because most of the leading edge is sticking up too high.
And worst of all, in a fruitless attempt to get the club on the ball, they may learn to gouge under the ball. Gouging sort of works for fluffy lies, but is deadly on close-cropped turf. Gouging is the worst enemy of good ball contact. To make a golf ball fly properly with an iron, you must hit the ball before hitting the ground - and you just can't do that correctly if the lie angle is wrong.
Parents worry about the cost of maintaining properly-fitted clubs for growing children, thinking they will have to buy new clubs every 6 months. Fortunately, there's an inexpensive solution. Custom clubmakers, easy to find in most areas, can easily adjust the child's clubs as they grow. Most clubmakers usually offer discounted rates for juniors. Not only is supporting the next generation of golfers good business, but as we say in Hawaii, it's "Pono" (The Right Thing).
The cost of adjusting a set of junior irons is comparable to a green fee at a moderately-priced public course. The material cost can be minimal, since you can lengthen shafts by moving the 7-iron shaft down to the 8 iron and so on, replacing only the shaft in the longest club (and saving the displaced short shaft to use for another junior).
Putter fitting for juniors is equally important, or perhaps even more so. The same lie angle problem exists for putters too. A putter that is the wrong length also puts the eye position in the wrong place, resulting in poor aim and bad sighting habits. Finally, a poorly-fitted putter will not support a stable, repeatable stroke pattern.
This video underscores the importance and the process of putter fitting for juniors.
Here's the subject of the video fitting session with her new custom-fitted Honu Putter.
If your child is serious about golf, please don't ruin their swing by making them play with poorly-fitted clubs.