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:
 
LENGTH
 
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.
 
WEIGHT
 
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.
 
SPEAK UP 
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.
 
CASE IN POINT
 
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:
 
WHIP IT GOOD
 
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
 
WEIGHT, PART TWO
 
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.
 
PERFECTION IS OPTIONAL
 
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.
 
Related Links:
  • What's in the Bag? Home Page
  • Whats in the Bag? Show Page - Upcoming airtimes
  • Barr on Business
  • More on Adam Barr
  • Getty Images

    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

    Getty Images

    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

    Getty Images

    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."

    Getty Images

    Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

    After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

    La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

    "Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

    The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

    "That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."