For Women and Juniors Era of Good Gear is Here

By Adam BarrJuly 21, 2003, 4:00 pm
WhatI played golf yesterday morning. Imagine that.
It was early ' about 8 a.m. ' and typical for Florida: already 80 degrees with enough humidity to turn you into a walking washcloth. Still, I was playing golf, and that was fine.
You know what they say ' you cant choose your relatives. An important corollary to that says you cant choose the makeup of your group if you only reserve two spaces in the tee time slot. So my opponent and I were matched up randomly with two fellows. They were decent sorts, but one had a crucial flaw. When he looked at the group ahead of us, he saw a woman in their midst, and instantly concluded that we were in for a five-hour round.
Of course, he was more wrong than Dennis Rodmans fashion consultant. The group ahead of us flew, almost always clearing the green just as we got to our approach shots. If the round was slow, it was because Mr. Chauvinist played golf like a geography major: all over the map.
Such attitudes as this mans are receding, thank goodness, and that will make the game better for everyone. One important area in which these myths needed to be dispelled is equipment. Gone (and good riddance) are the days when manufacturers could (or would) simply slap some pink or violet paint on a golf club and call it a womens model. Now, golfs best clubmakers see women as they want to be seen: As golfers first.
And what they told us as we prepared Whats In The Bag? No. 12, on equipment for women and juniors, is that there are special considerations for womens gear. But theyre similar to the considerations that apply to all golfers in determining the proper fit for clubs. A sample of the data:
Womens clubs are generally shorter because most women are shorter than most men. But this is only a rule of thumb, not a conclusion. No less an authority than Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez advises women to play longer clubs if they can, to get the benefits of extra distance. Of course, the club has to be a controllable length. Thats where proper fitting comes in; that advice applies to any golfer. And if you, as a woman, find that shorter clubs give you more controllable ball flight, by all means, let the fitter shave em a half-inch, or whatever.
Again, a rule of thumb only for beginning the analysis: Many women have less upper body strength than men, owing to the inherent differences in the way were built. For such women, lighter clubs might be better. Its hard to make a graceful, powerful swing if the end of the club feels like a sledgehammer. Again, this is a fitting issue.
With all the options, rack and custom, available in golf clubs these days, you can get pretty much anything you want. If you feel the clubs youre looking at arent quite right, ask the store manager and/or your pro for advice on fine-tuning your set. What youll get wont necessarily be a womans set of clubs, per se, but a set of clubs made for this particular golfer, who happens to be a woman. Theres a difference.
Mrs. Barr got new clubs for our most recent wedding anniversary. Shes pummeling the driver ' not because its a womans club, but because it was fitted for her and her swing. And dang, Im gettin tired of hitting second.

Many of the same principles that apply to womens equipment guide us in choosing gear for aspiring kids ' the games crucial junior segment. Most experts agree that the juvenile attention span is ready to focus on the game at about age 7. But there are clubs for younger kids. When buying, keep these things in mind:
Whippy shafts, that is. Ultra-flexible shafts can help a child, whose swing speed is naturally low, to get the ball into the air. Thats vital not only to the individual shot, but to the nascent golfers self-esteem. Sure, its a hard game, but if the child meets with too much frustration too early, he or she may not want to continue. And closely related to shaft flex for juniors is
You dont want to see a kid struggling to back-swing a club whose head is too heavy. Its tough on the wrists, and theres no way to make a good swing under those circumstances. Just four ounces can make a huge difference. This is a fitting issue; help from a qualified pro is always a good idea.
And frankly, it should always be subordinated to fun. Let a kids natural genius for games take over, and have fun. Kids are experts at developing delightful little contests ' see who can get it closest to the tree, lets try putting to that circle of brown grass ' and in the process of having a great time, they become accomplished (and happy) little golfers.
Such results will be worth any amount of patience you have to expend, both for you and your child. For instance, I may have to wait a bit, but I really want to play golf with my not-quite-three-year-old boy ' or as I call him, the 2020 U.S. Amateur champion.
If he wants to be, that is.
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