You may be reading this because you want to give your child the best opportunity to win junior golf tournaments or you may be reading this to find the best first kids golf driver for your child.
Choosing kids golf clubs can be tricky. This article will help you navigate the decision and provide information on how to choose a kids golf driver, junior golf driver fitting, golf drivers for young teens / reviews of some of the best junior golf drivers currently on the market.
Since proper fitting of kids golf clubs is very different to fitting adult clubs, we will first provide you with a basic understanding of club fitting factors that go into the optimization of a kids golf clubs and specifically a golf driver for your junior.
If you are in a rush or already know about driver fitting (and why it’s important to junior golf club purchasing), and want to go straight to our recommended drivers for juniors refer to the quick links in the navigation table below.
In this article we will focus on two key categories of junior drivers:
The following are the most important factors to be considered in fitting kids golf clubs including drivers:
Many variables affect the performance of a driver including shaft weight, club head weight, shaft length, total club balance and weight (including shaft, club head and grip), shaft flex, shaft kick point (flex point) etc. This can be extremely technical and very confusing but don’t worry, we’re going to boil it down to the most important factors in choosing a junior driver and getting a reasonably good fit without having a professional fitting.
Since so there are so many factors and they inter-relate to each other as well as the individualism of each players swing, club fitting is as much an art as a science. Below are reliable “rules of thumb” that we can use to simplify the process. Note that we highly recommend professional club fitting for juniors once their driver club head speeds start reaching the mid 90 mph range.
Ultimately the goal is to engineer the driver in a way that will help your junior golfer to swing the club more efficiently so they can deliver the club more quickly to the ball – i.e. generate the most club head speed thus maximizing driving distance from the same swing while also hitting the ball in the center of the club face.
This article will focus on top rated drivers for youth golfers of approx. 12 and under, who need a lighter club but can benefit from playing with a higher quality driver than most of the off the shelf kids drivers being sold at large box stores.
The two junior golf club manufacturers reviewed below are our favorite high-quality golf clubs for youth golfers under the age of approx. 10 years old with driver swing speeds of less than approx. 90 mph. In Part 2 below we touch on other junior golf club sets for this age group that are generally for entry level junior golfers.
Note that both U.S.Kids and Flynn Golf make drivers for juniors older than 10 years old and, despite remaining good options for juniors, we see many juniors start transitioning into light weight adult drivers around 9 to 11 years old. Very recently we have also seen juniors as young as 6 to 8 years old starting to use adult drivers with lighter weight heads and light weight, flexible shafts. If you do decide to move a very young junior (e.g. age 6-8) into an adult driver, make sure to have the driver properly fitted and not just chase a few extra yards at the potential downside of negatively affecting your junior's swing.
If your son or daughter is between the ages of 6 and 10 years old then we highly recommend U.S.Kids clubs. U.S.Kids makes two series of club sets and drivers, the Ultralight and the Tour Series. If you are looking for a first set of clubs for your junior then make sure to look at the U.S.Kids clubs. They make great kids golf sets and there is a reason they are the clubs used by most of the top “younger juniors” in the USA. At the kids world championships in Pinehurst NC every year we see more than 80% of kids 10 years of age and under using U.S.Kids Tour Series clubs.
U.S.Kids have a great fitting system that lets you know exactly what club(s) are best suited for your child. You can buy direct from their website and they have a nice program whereby every 6th club you buy is free. We have tested their fitting system and found it to be a very good guide.
The Ultralight series is designed for beginner to intermediate players who have played some golf, but need a lighter club to improve club head speed. They are available for junior golfers ranging in height from 39” through 66”, so really for any age child. Their sets are appropriate for both boys golf clubs sets and girls golf club sets.
Ultralight (junior height from 30” to 66”):
At less than $40 new, these are great first driver for kids getting into golf.
The Tour Series is designed for intermediate-to-advanced junior golfers who play competitive golf events and have higher than average swing speeds. The Tour Series is a great bridge that prepares a junior player for adult clubs. They are available for kids ranging in height from 51” through 66”, so for any age child.
Tour Series (junior height from 51” to 66”):
In 2018 U.S.Kids introduced the Tour Series 3 (TS3) that includes new technologies and was optimized using trackman feedback from thousands of data points.
The 3 new models of drivers are (i) for younger kids - V15: 17° Loft / 420cc, (ii) V10: 15° Loft / 440cc and (iii) for older juniors - V5: 13° Loft / 460cc. The V15/V10/V5 denotes the difference in weight compared to the average adult driver - i.e. V15 is approx. 15% lighter, V10 is 10% lighter and V5 is 5% lighter.
Mike Flynn of Flynn Golf produces junior clubs exclusively for younger golfers. Their premade sets are for kids from 48 inches to 66 inches tall. Their customized individual clubs, including drivers, can be made for any age/size youth golfer.
Reviews of these clubs are generally very favorable and they seem to be very comparable to the U.S.Kids Tour Series (reviewed above) with some people preferring the Tour Series and some preferring the VT Max.
The VT Max clubs are highly customizable including selection of colors for shafts, grips etc., something which is sometimes particularly attractive for some younger juniors. If this helps get kids out on the golf course then it might worth it.
The VT Max drivers have a 430cc size head with a 12 degree or 14 degree loft and a head weight of 187 grams. The heads are available in white or black and the custom-built drivers sell for approx. $140. The specs for the shaft and grip are determined by Flynn Golf based on various factors that the customer provides to Flynn Golf on their webform, including: age, weight, height, wrist to floor length, hand size, experience level, swing tempo, average drive distance etc.
One popular option for juniors that are "in between" the younger junior drivers (like the U.S.Kids Tour Series and the VT Max) and light weight adult drivers, is to get an appropriately fitted shaft from Flynn Golf and attach it to one of the lighter weight adult drivers such as those reviewed in this article (see below).
Note – Flynn Golf sells quality light weight UST Mamiya shafts that are compatible with the major OEM drivers listed in this article including most adapter sleeves. The price of shafts including OEM adapter is approx. $60.
The golf drivers reviewed below are recommended high-quality golf drivers for accomplished competitive youth golfers ranging in age from approx. 9 to 13 years old. This is the age when juniors grow out of kid specific golf clubs but are not yet strong enough and have enough swing speed for adult golf clubs. These junior golfers typically will have driver swing speeds of ~80 to 100 mph and they can thus benefit from adult club technology in a lighter weight driver than standard adult drivers.
Note that since kids develop at very different ages this is a general age categorization but juniors can move into heavier drivers much earlier or later depending on their size and strength. We always recommend testing any potential new "heavier driver" against your child's current driver before making a change just because you see other juniors with adult drivers! "Moving up" very often does not add much distance and often hurts ball dispersion.
That said, if your junior is ready to transition into slightly heavier drivers, the ones below are great choices.
COBRA has been leading the way in making juniors golf drivers that have all the technology of adult tour level drivers but are lighter and have been expertly fitted with shafts for junior golfers in that range between kids clubs and adult clubs. Knowing that junior golfers grow out of shafts quickly they also have a free shaft upgrade program for your junior driver when you purchase it from their website.
The COBRA junior drivers are designed with a higher loft range and a lighter head weight to help promote a higher launch and more club head speed for junior golfers. The new drivers include movable weights and the MyFly8 Technology allows juniors to manage distance and trajectory as their game develops. COBRA also sells full junior iron set, individual clubs, shafts etc. (including junior one-length irons!) on the COBRA website.
New for 2018 is the COBRA KING F8 Junior Driver. It introduces COBRA's first CNC milled driver face and their new 360° Aero™ Technology bringing you all of COBRA’s best technology in a junior driver. Great junior driver but comes with the higher price of new technology!
The 2017 COBRA KING F7 Junior driver is also a very good option and can be purchased new for approx. $100 less than both the original price and the price of the Junior KING F8 Driver. At less than $200 this is a great junior driver at a decent price.
The COBRA Bio Cell junior drivers from a few years ago are also a great option if you are looking for a really nice quality junior driver for less than $100 with a matched junior shaft. These junior drivers are still popular options for junior golfers younger than approx. 10 years old and we see many of these drivers in some high level junior golf tournaments. These are no longer sold new but can usually be found on eBay.
Callaway has been producing junior golf clubs for some time and offers a 7-club youth golf set named the XJ Hot. They have four standard XJ Hot sets, one designed for ages 5-8 and one for ages 9-12, each in a boys golf club and a girls golf club option.
The driver in the 5-8 age set has a 16 degree loft, a 34 inch club length and a total club weight of 303 grams. The driver in the 9-12 age set has a 16 degree loft, 40 inch club length and a total club weight of 318 grams. In our opinion these driver weights are on the heavy side compared to other junior drivers and are actually heavier than even the adult Callaway drivers reviewed below!
Our take on the XJ Hot is that they are decent quality clubs and are an ok option for beginner and possibly intermediate level junior golfers. At $300 for the set they are an acceptable value. We do not see many of XJ Hot golf club set being used at the larger regional and national junior tournaments. One downside is that they are not a complete set and therefore for more advanced junior golfers you have too large a gap in distances.
More exciting is that Callaway does produce some far more technologically advanced drivers that are actually lighter weight than the XJ Hot. These very good lightweight Callaway adult drivers are great option for youth golfers with faster swings.
The first is the GBB Epic Star Driver. The Epic Star driver utilizes all the latest Callaway technology (Jailbreak Technology, carbon crown, Exo-cage construction, advanced aerodynamics etc.) and delivers "Epic" performance and distance in an ultra-premium lightweight package.
The Epic Star is popular in Japan and Callaway decided to offer it to golfers in the United States who need a premium, lightweight option. Since it is engineered to enhance speed and power for players with lower swing speeds, it is ideal for juniors who are looking for Tour level performance. However, this also comes at a premium price with the current MSRP of $700!
The EPIC Star total club weight is only 286 grams and is paired with a 39 gram Mitsubishi Grand Bassara shaft. Even the tour proven grip (a Golf Pride J200) is 25% lighter than standard grips and weighs just 41 grams. Note – for juniors you may need to replace the grip anyway due to smaller hand size. The adjustable perimeter weight is 6 grams lighter than the GBB Epic and the driver does not have the adjustable hosel that is found on the GBB Epic, thus saving even more weight.
The second of our recommended Callaway drivers for juniors golfers is the Big Bertha V Series. This club is not very well known but is a great option for youth golfers. The Big Bertha V Series has a light-headed design that helps get the ball in the air and has adjustable loft and lie options. It has a lightweight composite crown and Callaway’s "Hyper Speed" club face which results in more weight being located lower and deeper in the club head for increased MOI and greater forgiveness.
Paired with the 42 gram standard lightweight shaft results in a club that is significantly lighter than the standard Big Bertha driver and weighs only approx. 290 grams. The V-series is available in a base 9, 10.5 and 13 degree loft.
As stated, this is a lesser known option for juniors but is a great one for your youth golfer to try out. We have even seen this driver in use at various regional and national tournaments in the 8 to 10-year-old age. For good deals check out the Callaway pre-owed site or eBay. The PGA Trade-in Network on eBay has some good condition used Big Bertha V Series Drivers on eBay for around $80, a great price for a really good junior friendly driver!
The third of our recommended Callaway driver options is the Callaway XR 16. The “R-MOTO Face Technology” is 19% thinner than earlier drivers and the body is lighter too, resulting in more ball speed across the face and redistributed weight for more MOI.
When it debuted, the XR 16 driver head was up to 15g lighter than comparative drivers by using lighter 8-1-1 Titanium (that has more aluminum in it to reduce weight) whilst maintaining strength. The 9, 10.5 and 12 degree drivers are adjustable 3 degrees (1 down, 2 up) and there is also a draw setting. The XR-16 pro is a low spin driver option that has a smaller head, lower launch, less forgiving face and not ideal for most juniors younger than 10. You could pair the XR-16 with a ladies, senior flex graphite shaft or Flynn Golf junior shaft for a junior who has higher than average strength and swing speed.
Like Callaway and Taylormade, Ping has developed a series of entry level junior club sets, called the Ping Moxie. The Ping Moxie K is for ages 6-7, the Moxie G is for ages 8-9 and the Moxie i is for ages 10-11. Note that the K-series does not have a driver. The G and i-series both have a driver with 16 degrees of loft. The Ping moxie clubs are suitable for beginner juniors and we have not seen Ping Moxie clubs being used in the highly competitive arena of regional and national junior golf tournaments.
Ping has also has developed a junior specific Ping driver that incorporates much of the technology of their adult clubs. The Ping G812 is designed for ages 8-12 and kids that are approx. 48” to 60” (4 feet to 5 feet) tall. Ping has incorporated a lightweight 40 gram junior shaft that is counterbalanced to offset the swing weight feel of a shorter shaft. The loft is 15 degrees, length is 41” and the 460cc club head weighs 195 grams. Add a junior sized 45 gram grip and you get a junior driver that weighs just 280 grams. The Ping G812 has the same look as the Ping G series adult drivers. This is a good intermediate driver to bridge the gap between pure kids clubs and adult clubs. At a little over $200 new, this is a good deal for a quality club. [link to amazon]
The Ping G400 was introduced in late 2017 and is a great driver for juniors as the club head weighs only 206 grams. This is the exact same weight as the Callaway Epic Star and combined with a light weight shaft and junior grip it weighs in at only 286 grams and it costs significantly less than the Epic Star. We have found the Ping G400 for less than $325 on Ebay.
The Ping G400 is packed with the latest technology and has rave reviews. The slightly smaller head looks good at address and is great for juniors where sometimes a full size 460 head looks huge on a junior shaft. The G400 driver is more forgiving than the G drivers they replace even with a smaller head. The new face material is T9S+ titanium which generates more ball speed by being thinner and more flexible. The Ping G400 drivers look, feel and sound great!
The Ping G400 is consistently one the best fits for juniors golfers and we highly recommend including it in your list of drivers to test or buy for juniors.
At only 260 grams the 2015 cg black driver is one of the lightest full-size drivers on the market and the lightest we have tested. After recently spending hours with a top junior golfer testing every new driver currently on the market (and some slightly older ones), the surprising find was the Cleveland CG Black. This driver has been on the market since 2015 yet in our junior’s testing it performed better for him than the Callaway EPIC, Taylor M1 and M2, Cobra F7, Ping G-series etc. The added bonus is that you can find one for less than 1/3 of the cost of these other drivers and it usually comes fitted with a wonderful light-weight Mitsubishi Bassara shaft (the shaft alone usually cost about as much as the entire club). We found these drivers on Amazon for less than $150.
So why did the Cleveland CG Black perform so well for our junior? Cleveland designed this club specifically for players with a swing speed of less than approx. 95 mph. The CG Black club head weighs in at just 187 grams, lighter than even the U.S.Kids Tour Series 460cc driver.
The matte black color and understated design of the driver are a refreshing change from the latest brightly colored, flashy looking drivers. Cleveland also put a lot of effort into refining the sound and feel of the club at impact and the sound of this driver is a head turner.This is a great option as a junior driver if they have a swing speed of less than approx. 95 mph and you are looking for a super-lightweight driver that will provide plenty of speed and launch it high.
TaylorMade has also recently started selling an entry level junior set of clubs. The TaylorMade Phenom 6 and Phenom 8 were introduced by the company in 2016. Both sets include a driver that is suited for beginner junior golfers. The approx. age range for these sets is 5-8 years old (6-piece set) and 9-12 years old (8-piece set). These are appropriately priced for a partial set of entry level clubs. We have not seen these clubs in use at any regional or national junior tournaments.
TaylorMade is also marketing Junior M2 Clubs (driver, fairway woods and irons). The Junior M2 Driver is really just the 2016 M2 with a junior/senior flex and light weight shaft. The head weight is approx. 200 grams (depending on what size weight you put in) so if you add a shaft at 45 grams and a grip at about 40 grams (undersized grip) you get to a total club weight of about 280 grams which is comparable to some of the other “junior specific” drivers out there. We have heard mixed reviews of the “Junior M2 Driver”. It appears that slightly “older juniors” with a higher swing speeds (e.g. above 90 mph) generally get better results than younger juniors who seem to battle with getting a good ball flight / trajectory with the M2. Save $150+ at the Taylormade site.
Interestingly, the 2017 M2 is actually lighter than the 2016 M2 that is used in the “junior driver” by about 10 grams, so the 2017 M2 is definitely an option worth looking at. The Speed Pocket in the 2017 was redesigned and is three times as flexible as the 2016 M2. and is similar to the AeroBurner below, resulting in more ball speed. You won't be able to buy as a "junior M2 driver" but you can have a shaft fitted for your junior. They do also sell them with a ladies flex shaft (marketed as a "ladies M2 driver"). Save $100+ on this driver and get it custom fitted directly from the Taylormade site.
The 2018 M4 driver replaces the 2017 M2. Similar to the 2017 M2, Taylormade do not advertise or sell a junior M4 driver. However, this is a relatively light weight adult club with great distance. It is very forgiving on off center strikes thanks to the twist face technology (that you have no doubt heard about).
The ladies M4 driver comes standard with a very nice Platinum White Tie 45 gram shaft that can be easily customized (see picture below) on the TM site for length, grip size and tipping.
The lighter materials used in this driver allowed TM to increase the rear weight from 18 to 40 grams for better lauch and the hammerhead slot also increases the sweet spot. It is lighter weight and a little more forgiving than the M3 driver, but is not as adjustable. It is also less expensive compared to the M3! This is a great driver for slightly older or stronger juniors .
Another option to look at is the TaylorMade AeroBurner which is a lightweight, high launch, and very forgiving driver. It is available in both the original white head and now also in black. The club face is slightly less than 200 grams so this driver with a lightweight shaft and junior grips weighs about 280-290 grams. It is slightly heavier than some of the other drivers reviewed in this article but we’ve included it here as we have seen it used very effectively by juniors in the 9-11 year old age range. We have found the Aero Burner Driver with a senior flex shaft on Amazon for $110 (+ free shipping), a great deal! Alternatively, you can buy a new one on Ebay for approx. $90 including free shipping (even less for a good used one).
Younger juniors (swing speeds of less than approx. 80 mph and ages 9 and under): The U.S.Kids or VT Max (Flynn Golf) driver are specifically made for these juniors and we highly recommend them.
Juniors that are "in between" kids and adult clubs (swing speeds of approx. 80 to 95 mph and ages 8 to 12): Fitting starts to become more important in this age group but not essential, especially at the younger end. If you do buy a driver without fitting make sure to get a light weight club (such as those reviewed above) with a junior shaft (or at least a ladies or senior flex). Use the Flynn Golf shaft ordering if need be or if you know what you are looking for you can usually find a good deal on eBay. You can use the U.S.Kids fitting guidelines to determine the optimal length of the shaft. Be careful not to fall into the trap of being tempted to go too long with the shaft as this can result in your junior forming bad swing habits. In addition, although some drives will certainly be longer with a longer shaft, there will most likely also be more off center strikes resulting in less distance.
Older juniors - swing speeds 95 mph and above: For competitive golfers in this group (generally ages 13 and up), professional fitting is highly recommended for all the reasons set out above.