Training aids for junior golfers should be easy to use and deliver results. Below are some of the best golf training aids for juniors, based on ratings, reviews, use in top coaching programs and use on the PGA and LPGA Tours, as well as some of our personal favorite training aids.
We have included some DIY "everyday items" that achieve the same results but are a lot cheaper than golf specific training aids - e.g. driveway markers, footballs, foot spray, batteries, pool noodles etc.
This article is focused on non-electronic training aids, so does not include iphone / ipads apps, swing tempo devices, launch monitors, video analysis, Boditrak etc.
The best golf swing training aids for juniors are ones that juniors can use on the range by themselves, or at least with little supervision. Although these types of training aids do not provide the same level of feedback as a professional instructor or high tech devices such as Trackman, video swing analysis or Boditrak, the training aids reviewed in this article do provide immediate feedback for junior golfers.
Golf Alignment Sticks
There is a reason that every professional golfer uses alignment sticks. They are an excellent golf practice aids for many golf drills including feet/body alignment, club alignment, ball positioning, swing plane, as "target markers" or "uprights", putting and even to assist with video analysis. In addition, they are very inexpensive. These golf practice accessories are found in almost all golf bags at high level junior tournaments.
There are many good options for alignment sticks. We like the Tour Sticks as they are reasonably priced, have very good reviews, come in various colors (even some "crazy patterns" that juniors will like) and also with a booklet of drills. Tour Sticks are available on Amazon or directly from the Tour Sticks Website.
The Tour Sticks website has 24 different golf drills using alignment sticks. Below are a few of the most common alignment stick drills.
Feet and body alignment: It can be very difficult for juniors to know when they are properly lined up to the target. Placing one alignment stick a few inches outside the ball and another alignment stick a few inches in front of the feet will ensure proper alignment. Both alignment sticks should be aimed towards a specific target. This will help juniors golfers to subconsciously develop the skill of lining up to the target correctly. Ball positioning can also be checked by laying one of the alignment sticks perpendicular to the one in front of the feet. (see pictures below).
Swing plane: Place two alignment sticks at the same angle as your club shaft, one behind and one in front of you. This visual aid will help to illustrate if your junior is swinging too much from out to in or in to out and if the follow through is on a consistent plane.
Target line/uprights: Two alignment sticks placed 5-10 yards in front of the golfer and approx. 10 feet apart make for great upright posts to hit the ball through. Another fun drill is to place one alignment stick directly in front of the junior golfer, approx. 10 yards out and have the junior practice hitting to a target directly behind the alignment stick, playing either a fade or draw around the stick. This is a great drill to develop the skill of controlling the club face.
Putting: Juniors who have a straight putting stroke can place two alignment sticks parallel and lined up at the hole for visual tracking. Juniors that have more of an arc putting style should move the back stick closer to their feet to allow for the arc motion.
There are some very nice alignment stick covers that we've seen many juniors using. They also give a little character to an otherwise boring golf practice aid. The Sunfish golf alignment covers are popular and have good reviews.
Alignment stick cell phone holders/clips are a convenient way for juniors to record and view their own swings and add a new way to effectively use alignments sticks for practice.
DIY Tip: Fiberglass road snow poles (AKA driveway markers) also work just fine and are a lot cheaper at approx. $4 for a pair, although they are generally sold in bulk so you may not end up saving much money unless you are buying for a team or with friends. You can buy these online at Amazon or at any major home improvement store such as Home Depot.
The Orange Whip training aid is one of the most popular and bestselling swing trainers ever. It is effective in its simplicity and can be used as a warm up tool (it is great for grooving swing tempo), strength and flexibility, and a swing tempo and balance trainer. Using the Orange Whip will help develop flexibility and remove tension from the golf swing while promoting a smooth tempo and transition.
The Orange Whip is available in three different sizes: Standard Full Size (47 inch), Mid-Size (43 inch) and Junior (38 inch). The junior version is suitable for younger kids and is lighter, shorter, and has a smaller grip. There is also a smaller compact version which is good for indoor use.
SKLZ Gold Flex
The SKLZ junior training aid is similar in concept to the Orange Whip in that it is designed to improve swing tempo, strength, and flexibility through a weighted head and very flexible shaft. It can also be used as a warm up tool or training aid. See below for the difference between the SKLZ Gold Flex and the Orange Whip.
- Orange Whip Trainer vs SKLZ Gold Flex
These two swing trainers are similar in concept and both aim to improve tempo, provide a core muscle workout, develop lag, and help to initiate the swing using the lower body. All good things!
So what is the difference between the Orange Whip and the SKLZ Gold Flex?
- Swing weight: The weight of the head and the swing balance position makes the SKLZ Gold Flex feel heavier to swing. The counter balance on the Orange Whip grip also helps the swing weight feel and is unique to the Orange Whip.
- Flex: The SKLZ Gold Flex has more flex in the shaft than the Orange Whip, providing a more exaggerated lag. Most juniors will likely prefer the lower flex of the Orange Whip.
- Options: The Orange Whip has a junior version which is nice. The SKLZ Gold Flex only has 40" and 48" versions.
- Price: SKLZ is approximately 30-40% cheaper than the Orange Whip.
Conclusion: when comparing the SKLZ Gold Flex vs Orange Whip, most juniors will likely prefer the Orange Whip due to the weighting and flex. The fact that it comes in a junior size is a bonus for kids approx. 11 year old and younger. The counter balance weighting also makes it feel a little easier to handle for juniors. The Orange Whip is a little more expensive but it is a training aid that will be well used for many years.
DIY tip: you can use a 1-2 inch thick rope that is the length of a club. Tie a knot at the end where the club head would be. While it does not have the head weight as the trainers (thus will not provide strength, flexibility and warm-up benefits), the rope swing does provide similar feedback on tempo and lag as the Orange Whip and Gold Flex do.
Putting Tracks and Putting Arcs
There are many variations of putting tracks and putting arcs on the market. These are very good putting swing path training aids - and properly used they can definitely help your junior groove a consistent and accurate putting stroke. After 10-20 putts with the track remove it and putt the same line without the track. You will likely be pleasantly surprised by the tempo and accuracy.
We have tried a number of different putting tracks and like the Momentus Inside Down The Line (ISDL) Short Track. The short track is ideal for juniors and is priced at less than $40. We find the full size track a little too large and certainly not worth the extra cost.
The Putting Arc is similar except that it allows the putter face to close slightly on the follow through as opposed to keeping it straight down the line.
DIY putting aid tip: Watch any PGA Tour putting warm up session and you will see pros putting through a couple of tee "gates" set up just outside their putter head. This provides good feedback on your putter line and if juniors are hitting the ball consistently on the center of the putter face.
After alignment sticks, the putting mirror is likely the most widely used and effective golf practice aid. It is used widely by all levels of golfers from beginners to PGA Tour Pros. It is a great golf aid for juniors as it ingrains good setup at a young age.
So how do the tour pros use the putting mirror? Putting mirrors provide instant feedback on a golfer's distance from the ball by showing where your eyes are reflected in the mirror. In general, the recommended setup is to have your eyes directly over the ball. Note that some very good putters have their eyes either inside or outside the ball, but not by much. The other primary feedback from this putting aid is helping to align the putter square to the hole and flat on the ground.
With so many options out there, it can be difficult to determine which putting mirror is the best. The original EyeLine putting mirror has been used by many players over the past 10 years. It has slots for putter gates and also ball gates to ensure the putting stroke is online and the ball starts in the right direction. The three EyeLine putting mirror options are:
Putting mirrors are usually used on the practice green but can also be used indoors, even on the living room carpet, which is particularly helpful for golf training in cold Northern winters.
Putting Pill, Putter Wheel, Putt Genie
Kids love a challenge and the Putting Pill or Putter Wheel are a lot of fun for them to use while also providing some good practice. These little training aids are essentially a weighted cross-section or narrow golf ball that falls off track if not struck squarely, thus providing instant feedback.
There are various similar types of these. The Pill, Putter Wheel and the Callaway Odyssey Putt Genie are three that have been around for some time and have good user reviews. The Putt Genie comes in two sizes, the smaller one for more of a challenge and for advanced putters.
DIY hack: You can also use a size D battery that provides similar but not as dramatic feedback. If not struck with a squared up putter face the battery will immediately veer to one side. This is a very simple yet effective golf putting practice aid.
Putt Pocket Putting Aid
The reason we like this training for juniors is that it engages their visualization of a putting line and also challenges them to be accurate. Golfers needs to pick the line that the ball will enter into the hole and therefore estimate the break, which is dependent on both the speed and line of the putt.
Choose a hole and starting position that results in a breaking putt and have the junior "set up" the pocket putt. This way they will learn to read and visualize the break of the putt - before even making a stroke.
The Putt Pocket can also be used for indoor putting practice at home or even in a hotel when traveling for golf tournaments. You might like this one so much that you also buy one for your office. At only $10 they are a very cost effective and worthwhile training aid.
Dr. Scholls Foot Spray
Dr. Scholls Foot Spray is one of our best ever DIY golf practice tips and we use it almost every range session we have with juniors. Note that not all foot sprays works so make sure you get Dr. Scholls Odor X that sprays white powder. Simply spray a light coat of the powder onto the club face to get instant feedback on where the ball contacts the face of the club.
Shake the can well to mix up the powder then spray a light coat on the face of the club from a few inches away. To clean the club face simply wipe the powder off with your golf towel. The powder spray can be used to show ball impact on drivers, fairways woods, irons and even putters.
This is a great alternative to more expensive golf impact tape / stickers. Note if you are buying impact tape consider purchasing it in bulk - e.g. a roll of golf impact tape - and save a lot of money. Some golfers also use a dry erase marker but we prefer the foot spray as the markings are clear, less messy and smells better.
PuttOut Pressure Putt Trainer and Putting Mat
The PuttOut Pressure Trainer is a putting aid that is designed to be used indoors or outdoors. The objective of the design is to provide feedback on both accuracy and speed - something other putting trainers usually don't do.
The putting aid is designed to replicate a hole in that the base is the same diameter as a regular 4.25 inch golf hole and the parabolic ramp will "return" the ball the same distance that it would have gone past the hole (assuming a flat surface). Offline putts will fall off the side of the PuttOut trainer, providing feedback on how the ball would have missed the hole.
For an extra challenge you can unplug the Micro Target to reveal a small hole in the middle of the ramp to aim for. A perfectly struck putt will lodge in the hole in the ramp. We like this trainer for shorter putts - e.g. 2 feet to 6 feet. One benefit of the aid is that it returns a "made" putt to the golfer, thus reducing inefficiency in having to retrieve a ball from the hole.
Overall this is a very good, simple practice aid that will provide immediate feedback on tempo, aim and speed. PuttOut Pressure Trainer reviews from both golf magazines and also private buyers rate it as one of the best golf putting practice aids.
PuttOut Trainer Mat
PuttOut also makes an indoor putting mat designed to be used with the PuttOut Pressure Trainer. It is made with a heavy-rubber backing that ensures the mat stays flat - a problem with so many putting mats. The surface material is designed to replicate a medium paced green (10 on the stimpmeter). This is a high quality putting mat and therefore is not cheap.
Chipping nets are a great practice aid for younger juniors since they are fun and they require juniors to visualize and plan the right trajectory for chips. In addition, they teach a valuable lesson in knowing where to land a chip as opposed to chipping to a hole.
There are many portable and pop-up chipping net options on the market. We prefer the sturdier ones with fold out legs as the pop-up nets are sometimes rather flimsy (although they are a little more convenient and easy to carry for kids). The "Jef World of Golf" collapsible chipping net (pictured above) is study, easy to use and has excellent user reviews.
Some driving ranges have metal barrels or metal distance marker signs that kids love to aim for and being rewarded with a loud clang when they hit it. An easy DIY hack for chipping is using an empty metal can that will make a noise when hit. This small target is a great training aid and teaches junior golfers to focus on the landing spot of a chip, something that will help them immensely when they start playing tournaments on different types of grass and different speed greens.
Eyeline Golf Target Circles are great for chipping and putting and there a number of ways they can be used. They have very good user reviews and ratings. A DIY hack that is somewhat similar is using a Hoola hoop as a target in which to land chips. Juniors can play games against each other to see who can get the most points (i.e. chips in the circle) out of a given number of balls.
There are countless number of great golf practice drills that a pool noodle can be used for. Many top teachers use pool noodles and it is very likely your local junior golf instructor uses them too.
Some examples of the more popular uses of pool noodles for golf practice include:
- Balance training : have juniors stand on one and take swings. This is also a good exercise for strengthening the core
- Use the noodle to provide feedback on swing direction. For example, place the noodle curving just outside the ball - this will teach an in to out path by swinging inside the noodle curve (i.e. as opposed to the dreaded "over the top" swing path). It also help juniors to ingrain a good connected take away that is not on an outside path.
- For driving: placing a pool noodle a short distance in front of a teed up ball when hitting a driver can help to teach juniors to hit up on drives thus reduce spin and increase distance.
- For irons: placing a pool noodle a short distance behind the ball when hitting irons (especially short irons), will help to teach juniors to bottom out the swing at or in front of the ball. This is especially useful if your junior tends to hit fat or thin shots which are often caused by the low point of the swing being behind the ball. This drill will help juniors to focus on not casting (not unhinging the wrists too early) and proper weight transition (transitioning weight from the back foot to the front foot at impact). If they do not do these two things properly they will hit the noodle. Try taking some swings without a ball at first and then with a ball.
Small Football or Impact Ball Swing Trainer
Swinging with a football or other type of smallish ball between the forearms will helps juniors develop connection to the body and get the feel of keeping the arms attached to the body (this drill prevents the elbows from flying out like a chicken wing).
The drill was used by Jordan Spieth and is demonstrated in the Golf Channel instruction video below, featuring Cameron McCormick, Jordan's instructor. Note that this drill takes a lot of practice and can be difficult at first, but can be very rewarding if juniors persist with it.
Martin Kaymer uses tennis ball attached to a lanyard in a similar fashion. To make your own DIY practice aid, take a tennis ball, punch some holes, attach string through the ball then tie the string to a lanyard. The length of the string should be adjusted so that the ball is located just above the wrists (towards the elbows).
There are many similar products on the market such as the Junior Golf Impact Ball Swing Plane Trainer, or the Tour Striker Smart Ball training aid. The Impact Ball Swing Trainer does the same thing as the football but is molded to fit between the arms and can be slightly easier to use than the football.
Another DIY alternative that works well is a golf towel tucked under the upper arms. This teaches golfers to stay connected, ensures that they are not swinging "over the top" on an outside-in path and helps with teaching a proper "low point" of the swing. Juniors should be able to take normal swings while keeping the towel from falling out from under their arms.
Swing Speed Trainers
Swing speed trainers are great tools for juniors to use to develop more speed and distance. U.S. Kids swing speed trainers are made for various heights.
The Super Speed system also has a junior set that is very effective, although not cheap. Read more about SuperSpeed Training for Junior Golfers.
There are hundred or even thousands of golf training aids that promise to give you the perfect swing. While training aids can certainly help, there is no easy answer and practice combined with lessons from a PGA Professional Instructor are key. That said, the training aids included in this article are known to work, are easy to use, and are fun for junior golfers to use.
Let us know your favorite training aids and also your favorite homemade or DIY tips for golf practice.