Best Golf Clubs for Teens and Advanced Juniors

Taylormade P790 junior transition irons

Golf Club Guide for Teens and Advanced Juniors

How should you choose golf clubs for teens and advanced juniors that are transitioning from kids clubs to adult clubs? This article provides guidance on junior club selection and highlights some quality major brand junior transition irons that are suitable for young golfers. 

Club Recommendation Summary

In case you in a hurry and want to jump straight to the detailed review and specification for a club, the table below of teen and junior transition irons can be sorted based on your specific requirements.


Iron Make and Model

Head Weight


Junior Level

Set of 7 Priced From

261g

Intermediate-Advanced

$1,140

262g

All Levels

$875

262g

All Levels

$650

257g

Intermediate-Advanced

$1,100

258g

Advanced

$1,100

257g

All Levels

$850

257g

All Levels

$600

261g

Advanced

$700

259g

Intermediate-Advanced

$700

257g

All Levels

$1,050

255g

All Levels

$700

260g

Advanced

$1,140

261g

Advanced

$1,050

260g

All Levels

$789+

255g

All Levels

$600

260g

All Levels

$700

257g

All Levels

$965

263g

All Levels

$700

260g

Advanced

$850

260g+

Advanced

$1,050+

262g

All Levels

$800

262g

Intermediate-Advanced

$1,100

259g

Intermediate-Advanced

$960

261g

Intermediate-Advanced

$965

Overview

This article outlines factors to consider for juniors transitioning from lighter weight kids clubs to adult clubs and highlights some of the top rated golf clubs that are suitable for teens and advanced junior golfers. In choosing the best junior golf clubs, juniors need irons that are good transition irons to go from light-weight, junior specific irons, to adult irons. 

This guide is written for juniors that are approx. 11 years old and up. In general, this post is not intended for younger golfers (e.g. 10 and younger), although, depending the size and strength of a junior, it is possible that a slightly younger child could use some of the adult irons in this guide.

For younger juniors not yet ready for adult club heads, we highly recommend the USKids Tour Series, USKids Ultra-light and Flynn Golf (VT Max) clubs. If you are looking for toddler golf clubs, baby's first club or beginner clubs for 3 years old to 5 years old refer this this article on beginner golf clubs.

This article is generally focused on juniors that are playing intermediate to advanced junior golf tournaments and have a driver swing speed over ~85 mph. This group of juniors can still benefit from clubs (heads and shaft combination) that are slightly lighter than standard adult clubs and that are designed for players with moderate to high swing speeds. Irons for these junior golfers should be forgiving while still providing good feedback on shots and some ball workability. 

Note, some of the major brands sell "junior golf club sets" that are specifically aimed at young teens from approximately 12 years old to 15 years old. In our experience these are generally cheap junior golf clubs and are not the same quality and do not perform nearly as well as adult clubs. In general the price reflects the quality of the design and build. The difference in price does not justify the lower quality of materials, build and performance. Even the best "junior golf clubs" will not perform as well as top of the line adult clubs.

If price is a concern, instead of buying cheap junior golf clubs, we recommend looking at good quality used adult golf clubs. Unfortunately we have seen "reputable" large golf magazine sites recommended these cheap junior clubs as "best teen clubs" - do not pay attention to these recommendations, they were obviously written by someone with very little golf knowledge. Teens do not generally need significantly lighter clubs and more often than not, these light weight cheap "toy" clubs will not help a teen's golf at all.

If your teenager really requires lighter golf clubs we recommend the USKids Tour Series which go up to a size 63 inch set, which is only approx. 1/2 inch shorter than full size adult clubs, the iron heads are 5% lighter than the average adult club, and they come fitted with lighter weight shafts with the appropriate flex and swing weight.

For junior golf girls there are more options as most manufacturers produce quality ladies clubs that are lighter than regular adult clubs and fitted with shafts appropriate for a slower swing speed. Certain junior golf clubs are not that dissimilar from women's golf clubs: both are fitted with more flexible light weight shafts that are appropriate for juniors as well as ladies. This is the reason that U.S.Kids now also sells their Lady Light golf clubs that are 10% lighter than standard adult clubs.

For more information on fitting junior golf clubs and a junior golf club sizing chart, refer the junior golf club fitting chart and related information in this article: junior golf club fitting. While this article is aimed more towards younger juniors, the advice and fitting chart is still relevant and will provide some general guidance on how to measure junior golf clubs.

Note that this article is focused on juniors transitioning from junior golf clubs to adult irons. For information and reviews of the best junior golf drivers and factors to consider when buying a junior driver, refer to this articles: Best Drivers for Junior Golfers.

Method of Selection for Irons Reviewed

The irons listed below are certainly not all the options available to young golfers, but are some of the best junior golf club options that we have selected based on the following factors:

  1. Observation of what many top juniors in this age group are using.
  2. Reviews of irons in this category.
  3. Technical specification including the weight of club heads, the relative playability factor (forgiveness) of the irons, and the look and feel of the irons. A club's playability factor is influenced primarily by where weight is placed throughout the club head and will determine the iron's performance characteristics such as more forgiveness on off-center strikes (larger sweet spot), higher launch etc.
  4. The irons selected in this review all have "conventional" or "game improvement" playability factors, as opposed to "player" or "classic" irons that are more blade-like and more difficult to use. "Player" or "classic" irons are not recommended for junior golfers. Recently even many golf professionals have moved away from "player" and "classic" irons in favor of "conventional" and even "game improvement" irons.
  5. Our recommendations take into account observations from professional junior club fitters

Club fitting is generally worth the cost in order to ensure you are getting the best performance for your junior golfer and that you are optimizing what will likely be your junior's most expensive set of clubs to date. Fitting the right shaft is critical for juniors that are not using regular size adult clubs, since the length and flex of the shafts changes the performance of clubs significantly.

Factors to Consider in Choosing Junior Transition Irons

With so many options out there it is easy to to feel overwhelmed in selecting junior transition irons and this can easily lead to "paralysis by analysis". In our opinion, all of the major club manufacturers have irons that are suitable for intermediate and advanced juniors. In order to simplify the decision process, the following are the most important factors to consider:

  1. Budget to spend on irons. Tip: if you want to keep costs down there are many online shops and classified type sites (e.g. eBay or Amazon) that sell good quality used irons for much less than new irons. In general, iron technology does not change as dramatically as drivers and, as such, there are many very good "prior season" iron models that sell at vastly discounted prices compared to current year models. The iron sets in this article (generally a set of seven irons - e.g. 5 iron to Gap Wedge) range from approx. $500 to $1,300.
  2. Look and feel. Take your junior to the local golf shop to look at various models. Look at clubs in other junior's golf bags, ask if you can look at them and swing them. Many golf club pro shops and coaches have examples of irons to look at and try.
  3. Size and strength of the junior. Do not be in too much of a rush to move into adult clubs. US Kids and Flynn are still some of the best junior golf clubs for slower swing speeds.
  4. Junior skill level. Intermediate or beginner junior golfers should look for irons with a higher playability factor. See more on playability factor (i.e. forgiveness of clubs) below. The best junior golf clubs for one junior will not necessarily be the same for another.
  5. Fitting. If possible professional fitting for the right shaft is highly recommended, can usually be done for less than $100, and is often free if you are buying clubs at a golf retail store. Some of the manufacturer's websites (such as TaylorMade) have good interactive fitting guides that take into account size, swing speed, handicap etc. and you can order directly from them.

In general most of the irons reviewed here will also also be available to those looking for left handed junior golf clubs. 

Playability Factor

You want to provide your junior with the best opportunity to get the ball in the air, allow forgiveness on off-center hits and maximize iron distances. Do not let ego (e.g. thinking that your junior is good enough to play with blades) get in the way of choosing the best irons for your junior!

The Maltby playability factor measurement has been used by golf fitters and builders for many years. It classifies irons into the following broad categories: Player Classic, Classic, Conventional, Game Improvement, Super Game Improvements, and Ultra Game Improvement. This is a good general guide to the playability of irons.

Maltby playability factor junior transition irons

Junior Transition Irons

Below are examples of some of the best clubs for junior golfers. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of options. 

The club head weight of each recommended iron is provided (using a 6 iron as standard). As a comparison to the weights listed below, the USKids Tour Series club head weights are as follows:

  • Tour Series 57 (V10*): 236g (for ages approx. 9-11 yrs)
  • Tour Series 60 & 63 (V5*): 250g (for ages approx. 10-13 yrs)

* The USKids V10 and V5 designations mean the clubs are approx. 10% and 5% lighter than the average adult club, respectively. Refer this post on USKids equipment for more information on the 2018 USKids TS3 irons and the USKids fitting chart.

Most juniors use iron sets that go from a 4 or 5 iron to Pitching Wedge (PW) or Gap Wedge (GW) - also known as an Approach Wedge (AW). Sand Wedges (SW - e.g. 55 degree) and Lob Wedges (LW - e.g. 60 degree) are usually specialized clubs such as the Titleist Vokey, Callaway MacDaddy and Ping Glide. Juniors often have a 4 Hybrid instead of a 4 iron, until their swing speeds are high enough to get a 4 iron in the air. 

Ping

Ping i200

ping junior golf clubs

Ping i200 irons


Playability Factor:

Conventional

Recommended for:

Advanced Juniors

Club Head Weight (6 iron):

261 grams

Retail Price (approx.):

$699+ for 7-Piece Iron Set

The Ping i200 irons were introduced in 2017 as the replacement for the already great Ping i irons. Both are great options for juniors given the club head weight and fitting options. We see these "better player" ping irons in use with some of the top juniors as well as on the professional tours.

The Ping i200's are mid-sized irons with better player looks and a good mix of workability and forgiveness. Compared to the i-irons, the face is 30% or 1mm thinner making it a little hotter and MOI is increased by 7% through moving weight into the heel and toe areas. Compared to the Ping i-blade, the i200 is slightly more muted (due to slight cavity back design), is more forgiving and has a higher launch. 

We found these at Worldwide Golf Shops (i.e. Edwin Watts, Roger Dunn etc.) for 20% off MSRP for either club sets or less than $100 each for individual clubs.

Occasionally you can find a great deal for these clubs on CallawayPre-Owned.com (yes, they sell more than just Callaway - look under the "Other Brands" menu).

Ping i Series

ping junior golf clubs

Ping i Series irons


Playability Factor:

Game Improvement

Recommended for:

Intermediate/Advanced Juniors

Club Head Weight (6 iron):

259 grams

Retail Price (approx.):

$699+ for 7-Piece Iron Set

Introduced in 2015, the Ping i Series is a very good club for juniors and are quite similar to the i200's in terms of the look and feel, but are slightly more forgiving than the i200's. The older Ping i25's (258 grams and conventional MPF) are also a good option and a new set of the i25's can be found for around $500 or less).

CallawayPre-Owned.com has over 50 sets of the Ping i-Series irons for sale as well as a few sets of the i-25 irons.

Ping G400 and G700 Series

ping junior golf clubs

Ping G400 irons


Playability Factor:

Super Game Improvement

Recommended for:

All Juniors

Club Head Weight (6 iron):

255 grams

Retail Price (approx.):

$700+ for 7-Piece Iron Set

Introduced in 2017, the Ping G400 irons are a little lighter weight than most adult clubs and are, in fact, only slightly heavier than the USKids TS3 V5 irons. The G400 irons are designed for more distance (thanks to a thinner, hotter face) and more forgiveness. All this while keeping a good look and feel club. These irons have slightly more offset than the Ping i's and i200's.

The Ping G700 irons were introduced in 2018 and use more advanced technology than the G400 irons. These great looking clubs are "fast faced" enclosed cavity back irons and similar in design and looks to the Taylormade P790 and Titleist T-MB irons (see below). The face is made from Maraging steel which is the same high quality material as the hot face G400 fairway wood. The cavity back of the irons is similar to the G400's but is completely enclosed resulting in a club with clean lines and a great sound.

The Ping G700 are super game improvement irons that look like conventional (players) irons. The downside is that they are on the expensive side at approx. $1,049 for a 7 club iron set. In general you can add approx. $200 for graphite shafts. 

TaylorMade Irons

TaylorMade makes a number of sets of irons that are suitable for juniors transitioning into adult clubs. The TaylorMade custom ordering tool on the TM website is very intuitive and a great tool to help you fit new clubs, including selecting which irons you want in your set (e.g. 5i-PW), loft adjustment, lie adjustment, shaft material & flex, grip size etc. Graphite shafts are available for juniors, as are ladies and senior flex shafts.

Below is an example of custom M3 irons with a L flex, shorter shafts, custom ordered on the TaylorMade site - all done in the space of 5 minutes on their site!

Taylormade M3 junior iron set transition custom order fitting
Taylormade P790 junior golf clubs

TaylorMade P790 irons


Playability Factor:

Game Improvement

Recommended for:

All Juniors Levels

Club Head Weight (6 iron):

257 grams

Retail Price (approx.):

$1,100+ for 7-Piece Iron Set

Similar to the Ping G700's, the TaylorMade P790 irons are a great combination of forged feel with distance and forgiveness. The distance and forgiveness is partly thanks to the hollow body design with "speed foam" inside. In addition, the 3-7 irons have a high density tungsten weight inside that increases MOI in the longer clubs and also a speed pocket to increase face flex (thus ball speed).

The polished matt chrome finish is a great look. These are high tech clubs suitable as transition clubs for juniors. While they are on the expensive side, certain junior tournaments do offer significant Taylormade discount for junior golfers playing in those tournaments. We see these clubs in use at many high level junior tournaments including national tournaments such as AJGA, Hurricanes etc. as well as at many of the junior golf camps and schools. 

In addition, these irons are in use by a wide variety of players from beginner to advanced juniors and we have also seen these being used by several very good adult players with handicaps as low as +5 and also some golf teaching professionals.

In July 2018 the New TaylorMade P790 Black irons were launched. These are the same technology as the standard P790 irons but with a high quality black PVD finish for all irons. These are combined with new all-black True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 shafts for really sleek unified look at "inspires and intimidates".

Taylormade P790 Black irons junior golf

TaylorMade P770 Irons

Taylormade P770 junior golf club set

TaylorMade P770 irons


Playability Factor:

Conventional

Recommended for:

Advanced Juniors

Club Head Weight (6 iron):

258 grams

Retail Price (approx.):

$1,100+ for 7-Piece Iron Set

The TaylorMade P770's are forged, cavity back irons for advanced players who like a more compact style head (slightly smaller with a thinner topline than the P790 heads), providing workability, while still having some forgiveness. The forgiveness in the 3 to 7 irons is thanks to a tungsten bar that lowers the CG and increase the MOI = forgiveness and a higher launch. These irons are used by a number of tour pro's who sometimes mix and match the P770's with the P750's (i.e. longer irons being the P770's and shorter irons the P750's). Similar to the P790's these are on the expensive side if purchased new.

Taylormade M3 Irons

Taylormade M3 junior golf club sets

TaylorMade M3 irons


Playability Factor:

Super Game Improvement

Recommended for:

All junior levels

Club Head Weight (6 iron):

257 grams

Retail Price (approx.):

$850+ for 7-Piece Iron Set

The TM M3 irons are compact, classic looking, player's irons with excellent distance and more forgiveness than the P790's. Compared to the previous M1 irons, the M3's have a thinner topline, improved shape and better aesthetics. In testing the M3 vs the M1, they had a lower spin rate and more carry.

Taylormade's RIBCOR technology provides a stiffer frame and more flexible (faster) face resulting in increased ball speed. The tungsten sole weights in the 3-7 irons provide a lower CG resulting in improved launch and stability. Speed pockets and face slots improve distance and accuracy on off-center hits. Overall these are great irons for distance, forgiveness, feel and sound. Compared to the M3's, the M4 irons are slightly lighter weight (yet a larger club face), offer more forgiveness and are ultra game improvement irons (even more forgiving than the M3 irons).

TaylorMade M1 Irons

taylormade m1 irons junior golf clubs

TaylorMade M1 irons


Playability Factor:

Super Game Improvement

Recommended for:

All junior levels

Club Head Weight (6 iron):

257 grams

Retail Price (approx.):

$600+ for 7-Piece Iron Set

The M1 irons are the predecessor version of the M3's (reviewed above). The M1 irons are very suitable for a junior golfer at a great price, especially considering these irons are packed with relatively new (2017) technology. They look great, perform well and are very forgiving. The M2 irons are also a great option for juniors and can be purchased at a great price.

Titleist

Overview of Titleist irons:

Way back in 2008, Titleist introduced the first AP1 and AP2 irons series. The original AP1 was a super game improvement iron and the AP2 was a game improvement iron. Since then, Titleist has brought out a new series every 2 years - hence the AP1/AP2 710 (in 2010), AP 712, AP 714, AP 716, and the latest AP 718 (2018). The AP2 have evolved from a game improvement iron to a tour player iron.

Below we have included the latest 2018 versions (718's). The prior season 716 irons are also great clubs for juniors and can be bought new (or used) for much less than the 718's. In 2018 Titleist introduced the 718 AP3 which were designed to fill the gap between the AP1 and the AP2.

The other Titleist irons (not reviewed here) are (i) MB Forged (muscle back blade, a true player iron with "Classic" playability factor and not recommended for juniors), (ii) T-MB which is a hollow face iron that is shaped like a MB - i.e. a similar concept to the TaylorMade P790 and Ping G700 (both reviewed above), similar in performance to the AP2 reviewed below, and could work well for juniors, and (iii) the CB Forged which is a blade/ cavity back model and is actually similar in forgiveness to the AP2 and T-MB, and could work well for single digit juniors that really want the look and feel of a forged blade type iron. We have selected the AP series here based on what we see juniors playing with most frequently and overall reviews and recommendations. 

Titleist 718 AP1

titleist-718-ap1 junior golf golf club set

Titleist 718 AP1 irons


Playability Factor:

Super Game Improvement

Recommended for:

All junior levels

Club Head Weight:

262 grams

Retail Price (approx.):

$875+ for 7-Piece Iron Set

The Titleist AP1's are  great clubs for junior golfers of all levels, from beginner to advanced. High density tungsten weights in the corners of the club face provide a high MOI. The lower center of gravity in these irons (thus higher launch) means that the irons could be built with much stronger lofts resulting in longer carry distances. The AP1's are not as workable as some lower handicaps might like while the AP2 and AP3 irons have more workability.

These super game improvement irons do a great job of providing extreme forgiveness while still having the feel and sound of better player irons. It is not uncommon to see single figure handicap players using these irons, and frequently a combination of AP1's for longer irons and AP2's or AP3's for the shorter irons.

The Titleist 716 AP1's are also still very good irons and a set of seven irons (e.g. 5 iron to Gap Wedge) can be purchased new for $650 (steel shaft, plus $200 for graphite shafts) which is a great price for a new set of quality clubs for your junior. 

Titleist 718 AP3

titleist 718 ap3 transition irons for junior golfers best junior golf clubs

Titleist 718 AP3 irons


Playability Factor:

Game Improvement

Recommended for:

Intermediate/Advanced Juniors

Club Head Weight:

261 grams

Retail Price (approx.):

$1,140+ for 7-Piece Iron Set

The AP3's provide forgiveness in a compact design. Titleist was aiming for a long playing iron with a fast face but that is still a players iron. The longer distances also do not come at the expense of holding the green. The 3-7 irons are more forgiving with tungsten weights in the head and toe. For shafts, Titleist has its ascending weight shafts that are lighter in the long irons and gradually get heavier as you move to the short irons. In addition there are many other custom fitting options through Titleist.

These are great irons for intermediate to advanced juniors. At well over $1,000 for a set of seven irons, these clubs are not inexpensive, especially if you add custom fitting and graphite shafts. If you are looking for something similar but at significantly less price consider combining the 716 AP1 long irons with the 716 AP2 short irons.

Titleist 718 AP2

titleist 718 ap2 best junior golf clubs

Titleist 718 AP2 irons


Playability Factor:

Conventional

Recommended for:

Advanced Juniors

Club Head Weight:

260 grams

Retail Price (approx.):

$1,140+ for 7-Piece Iron Set

The 718 AP2 is a "better player iron", and is used by a number of PGA Tour players. It is suitable for single digit players. It is the successor for the 716 AP2 that was the most widely used iron on professional golf tours in 2017. It has a more compact head with slightly more solid feel than the AP3 while being more forgiving than the MB blades (but similar in forgiveness to the T-MB and CB Forged irons). The 3-7 irons have a steel face inserts while the 8-PW irons are forged 1025 carbon steel.

A good option for advanced juniors may be to go with AP2 for the short irons and AP3's or T-MB's for the long irons.  In case this helps put these clubs in perspective, Jordan Spieth is playing the AP2's for 5-9 irons and the T-MB's for 3-4 irons and Adam Scott is also using the T-MB 3 iron. If these caliber players feel that they can benefit from a little forgiveness in the long irons then your junior can also!

The 716 AP2 (and even the 714 AP2) are great options for a high quality used club at a reasonable price. 

Callaway

Callaway has such a large selection of irons currently on the market (no less than 20 different head options), that it can be difficult to figure out the best options for a regular golfer, never mind a junior golfer. Below is a high level summary of the numerous Callaway iron options (and this excludes combo sets, hybrids sets, some women's sets, and prior year models!) with our view on their suitability as junior transition irons:

  • Epic, Epic Pro and Epic Star: high end irons, expensive materials, the latest technologies, high ball speed, forgiveness and performance. These are "Game Improvement irons" and the Epic and Epic Pro both weigh 260 grams. The Epic irons are Callaway's premium product and thus are very expensive (twice the price of the excellent Callaway Rogue irons). Starting at $1,750 for a set of 7 irons and $2,100 for a set of 7 Epic Star irons.  Good transition irons for juniors if price is not a consideration - or consider buying certified used iron sets at the Callaway Pre-Owned site
  • Rogue, Rogue Pro, Rogue X, Rogue W: These irons utilize the latest materials and technologies, designed for distance, accuracy and playability. Cheaper option than the Epic and great clubs at the price. Starting at ~$800 for a set of 7 irons. Very suitable as junior transition irons and reviewed in detail below.
  • Steelhead XR, Steelhead XR Pro: Combination of fast face and very forgiving. Both are Ultra Game Improvement irons and weigh 255 grams and 260 grams, respectively. We found these on sale at $700 for a set of 7 irons, a great deal for a very good club and well suited as a junior transition iron. More information below.
  • Big Bertha OS: High MOI, weight distribution for forgiveness, fast face for high ball speeds and optimal distance. Super Game Improvement irons that weigh 257 grams. On the expensive side for slightly older clubs, starting at ~$960 for a set of seven irons. More information below.
  • Apex CF 16, Apex Black, Apex Pro 16, Apex MB: The Apex is Callaway's flagship iron and is used by many tour pro's. It has been around for a few years and is regularly tweaked for new technologies. These are "better player" irons and are generally suitable for advanced juniors. Priced from ~$1,050 for a set of 7 irons. See detailed review below.
  • X Forged: Less forgiving than all other Callaway irons except the Apex MB. On the more expensive side, starting at ~$1,140 for a set of 7 irons.

Buying advice - below we have provided links to some good buying options. We also like the excellent Callaway Golf Pre-Owned website. A set of "excellent condition" irons can go for half the price on the Callaway Pre-Owned site than the same model sells for new. We recommend visiting the site and browsing not only Certified pre-owned Callaway clubs but also other brands.

Callaway Rogue, Rogue Pro and Rogue X

callaway rogue pro x best junior golf clubs

Callaway Rogue Irons


Playability Factor:

Rogue: Super Game Improvement

Pro: Game Improvement

X: Super Game Improvement

W: Ultra Game Improvement

Recommended for:

Rogue: All Juniors

Pro: Intermediate/Advanced

X: Intermediate/Advanced (better suited to adults)

W: Beginner/Intermediate

Club Head Weight:

~260 grams

Retail Price (approx. for set of 7 irons):

Rogue: $789+

Pro: $875+

X: $789+

W: $875+

The Rogue irons have Callaway's excellent 360 Face Cup (the same as the Great Big Bertha and Epic irons) that provides high speed off the face, Variable Face Technology (as opposed to the Exo-cage structure of the GBB and Epic) that provides excellent speed, even on off-center hits, and tungsten weights that provide maximum forgiveness and playability. A special urethane compound (infused with specialized microsphere bubbles), provides good feel and sound by soaking up vibrations and high pitched/tinny sounds, while still allowing maximum face flex. The Rogue irons replace the Callaway Steelhead XR and Steelhead XR Pro iron line. 

Below is brief overview of the difference between each of the Rogue models and some of the other major brand clubs that are comparative to these irons.

Rogue: all-round great performance that can be used by any level player. Comparative irons are Taylormade M4 and Titleist AP1. These look and feel like player irons but provide all the forgiveness you could want.

Rogue Pro: smaller face and thinner topline giving a "player iron" look. More workable than the pro model, not quite as forgiving. Comparable irons are the Taylormade M3, Titelist AP3, and Ping 790. Callaway also brought out the Rogue Pro Black irons in June 2018.

Rogue X: longer shafts, lighter shafts, stronger lofts. These irons benefit adults with a slower than average swing speed that are able to hit the ball relatively accurately.  Longer than the other Rogue irons and also longer than most other irons on the market. 6 irons tests were approx. 7 yards longer than the Rogue and Rogue Pro irons. In general juniors do not benefit from the longer shaft and they will generally be using lighter shafts anyway. In addition, the stronger loft does not necessarily benefit juniors.

Rogue W: designed primarily for ladies and seniors, these come with light weight graphite shafts and are designed to get the ball into the air easier and provide more distance. The forgiveness and distance comes from a very low CG, wide sole, and large cavity back design. These are suitable for juniors with slower swing speeds and beginner to intermediate juniors that can benefit from a little more forgiveness. 

Callaway Steelhead XR and Pro

callaway steelhead xr pro irons best junior golf clubs

Callaway Steelhead XR / Pro


Playability Factor:

Ultra Game Improvement

Recommended for:

All Levels

Club Head Weight:

255 / 260 grams

Retail Price (approx.):

$600/$700+ for 7-Piece Iron Set

The Callaway Steelhead XR and XR Pro irons are also a great option for juniors of all skill levels. The XR Pro's are slightly smaller than the XR with less offset and have a great matt black finish. The XR's can be purchased new for less than $600 for 7 irons and the XR Pro's for less than $700 for 7 irons - an excellent price for a great club.

Callaway Big Bertha OS Irons

callaway big bertha os best junior golf clubs

Callaway Big Bertha OS


Playability Factor:

Super Game Improvement

Recommended for:

All Levels

Club Head Weight:

257 grams

Retail Price (approx.):

$965 for 7-Piece Iron Set

The Big Bertha OS irons (including Senior & Women options) are very forgiving clubs that are a good option for beginner to intermediate junior golfers. Club heads weigh 257 grams and are Super Game Improvement rated. As of May 2018 these are priced at $965 for a set of 7 irons, which is more expensive than many other very good clubs including the Callaway Steelhead, Titleist AP1, Ping G400 and TaylorMade M1's. They are also about the same price as the Callaway Rogue. Given the very good competition, we expect that the price of the Big Bertha's may come down in the near future making them a more competitive option.

Callaway Apex CF16 and CF16 Black

callaway Apex CF16 best junior golf clubs

Callaway Apex CF16 Irons


Playability Factor:

Conventional

Recommended for:

Advanced Juniors

Club Head Weight:

~261 grams

Retail Price (set of 7 irons):

$1,050+

The Callaway Apex irons have been played by numerous golf pro's for a long time and have a dedicated following. The CF16's (stands for Cup Face 2016) are a combination of forged irons with Cup Face technology in the 3-7 irons. The Apex CF 16 is more forgiving than the regular Apex and Apex Pro, thanks to the advanced design, multi-compound materials and manufacturing techniques such as the face plate weld. 

These irons will appeal to advanced players, with the small top line profile as well as a great sound and feel. The standard shaft is the True Temper XP95 which may suite juniors transitioning into adult clubs as these shafts are lighter than the Dynamic Gold that many advanced clubs come with. Note that younger juniors may need a lighter flex and/or graphite option instead of the XP95. 

The CF16 is suitable for advanced juniors scoring in the 70's. Comparable irons are the Titleist AP2, TaylorMade P790 & P770, and the Ping i200. Overall this is a great looking club with good performance and reasonable forgiveness. The CF16 Black series is the same club, just in a good looking matt black finish that will appeal to some juniors. 

Callaway Apex 16 CF Black 7PC Iron Set - Steel

Starting at just over $1,000 for 7 clubs these are on the expensive side but not as much as some comparable irons. The Callaway Pre-Owned site also has a good selection of certified used CF 16 irons.

Mizuno

Mizuno are famous for making the highest quality forged irons, thanks largely to their patented grain flow forging technology that uses a bar of carbon steel to make the whole club head, including the hosel. Historically Mizuno has specialized in blade type irons with "conventional" and "classic" performance, designed primarily for better players (e.g. the MP or "Mizuno Professional" line). Recently, Mizuno has also started producing some very good game improvement irons such as the JPX line.

Below are two great JPX options and we have also provided an overview of MP options that might be suitable for more advanced juniors.

Mizuno JPX 900 Hot Metal

mizuno junior golf clubs

Mizuno JPX 900 Hot Metal


Playability Factor:

Game Improvement

Recommended for:

All junior levels

Club Head Weight:

263 grams

Retail Price (set of 7 irons):

$700+

The Mizuno JPX 900 Hot Metal is a great looking game improvement iron. The ultra thin cup face provides very good ball speed and distance, while the cavity design and weight positioning result in a good level of forgiveness for intermediate junior golfers. While this is not a Super (or Ultra) Game Improvement iron, it could potentially also be used by less experienced juniors golfers. 

The irons come standard with the light weight Nippon NS Pro Modus 3 shaft which is suitable for many juniors. At $100 per club these are very reasonably priced for a great game improvement iron. These are occasionally available at Callaway Pre-Owned ("Other Brands" section of the site).

Mizuno JPX 900 Forged

mizuno junior golf clubs

Mizuno JPX 900 Forged


Playability Factor:

Conventional

Recommended for:

Advanced Juniors

Club Head Weight:

260 grams

Retail Price (set of 7 irons):

$850+

The Mizuno JPX 900 Forged has the feel of a forged iron but with a little extra forgiveness thanks to the use of light weight boron which allows more weight to be moved to the outsides of the frame. The variable thickness frame also allows for higher ball speeds on off center strikes.

The JPX900 Forged is similar in performance to the MP-18 MMC (see below) but with a little less spin, lower trajectory and possibly slightly longer (partly due to stronger lofts). There are usually a fairly good selection of good condition certified used JPX900 Forged at the Callaway Pre-Owned site ("Other Brands" section).

Mizuno MP-18 (MB, SC, MMC, Fli-Hi)

mizuno junior golf clubs

Mizuno's MP18 line is actually three (and a half) sets, with different designs to suit different player skills levels and desired look and feel. What is consistent between the models is that they are all manufactured with the quality materials and craftsmanship that Mizuno irons are famous for. This includes 1025E steel and they all benefit from Mizono's grain flow forge manufacturing techniques. On the downside, new Mizuno irons are on the expensive side.

Mizuno MP-18


Playability Factor:

MMC: Conventional

SC: Classic

MB: Classic

Fli-Hi: Game Improvement

Recommended for:

MMC: Advanced Juniors

SC: Advanced Juniors

MB: Generally not recommended for juniors

Club Head Weight:

260+ grams

Retail Price (set of 7 irons):

$1,050+

Overview of the MP 18 models:

  • MP18-MMC (Multi Material Construction): Best for advanced juniors. These are the most forgiving irons in the MP line. Mizuno uses lightweight titanium and heavier tungsten parts sealed within the 1025E mild carbon steel head to provide a moderate level of forgiveness in great looking irons. According to Mizuno, these are comparable in performance to the old Mizuno MP-54 irons. These are suitable for juniors shooting in the 70's or low 80's.
  • MP18-SC (Split Cavity): The slightly wider sole and split cavity make the MP18-SC more playable than the muscle-back (Standard) model. These are superb performing irons for elite players and may be suitable for older juniors that are single digit handicaps (from men's tees). 
  • MP18-MB (Muscle Back): These are true blade irons with a short blade length and thin top line. Despite the fantastic look of these clubs there is really is no reason for juniors to be using these. Although a fair amount of Tour players do still use MB irons, many are opting for irons with more forgiveness than these types of irons.
  • MP18-Fli-Hi: This long iron replacement is a hollow body (cavity backed) long iron with a maraging steel face (the same material as is used in many modern fairways woods) and tungsten toe weighting. These are great to blend with other MP irons. For example, a good setup for advanced juniors might be Fli-Hi's in the 4-6 irons and 7-PW in the MP-18 MMC or MP-18 SC.

Cobra

While Cobra do make and sell Cobra junior golf clubs, for 13-15 year old junior golfers, this is really more of a beginner set and we prefer their adult drivers and iron sets for juniors that are transitioning into adult clubs. Most juniors that age do not need lighter clubs and most do not need the light weight graphite shafts that these come with.

Cobra also has sells KING F7 JUNIOR ONE Length irons for approx. $90 a club or $450 for a set of 5 (5-9 irons plus PW and SW). These are regular one-length heads but fitted with one length graphite shafts for slower swing speeds.  We found the KING F7 JUNIOR ONE Length 5 iron set on Amazon for $350 including free shipping. 

Cobra King F8

Cobra junior golf clubs

Cobra King F8


Playability Factor:

Super Game Improvement

Recommended for:

All juniors.

Club Head Weight:

262 grams

Retail Price (set of 7 irons):

$799+

The Cobra King F8 irons are best for junior golfers with moderate to high swing speeds. These are good looking clubs with technology designed to help intermediate golfers with longer carry distances and higher trajectory. The irons all come with the Cobra Connect Arccos Technology that provides best in class shot tracking for game analysis and feedback.

The 4i to 7i have a hollow construction to lower the CG and a hot face plate for increased speed and higher launch. The 8i to PW have a cavity-back design for increased accuracy and control on approach shots. Carbon fiber inserts dampen vibrations and improve feel. The irons are approx. 5% longer than the old King F7 irons and we found them to generally be 5-10 yards longer than comparable irons. These are one of the few irons sets that have Gap wedge, Sand wedge and Lob Wedge.

Cobra junior golf clubs

There is also the option of one length King F8 irons for the same price. One length irons became very topical when Bryson DeChambeau became only the 5th player in history to win the NCAA Division I championship and the U.S. Amateur in the same year - using Cobra single length irons. We do not see many juniors using single length irons but there is certainly some merit in the science behind them. For more information about one length irons we like this article by TomWishonGolf.

Cobra also offers light weight graphite shafts including a Lite/Senior flex shaft with a 63 gram weight. In addition Cobra sell a women's King F8 iron set that comes with lighter shaft and swing weight. 

Comparable irons from other manufacturers include: Callaway Rogue, Taylormade M4, Ping 400/700, Mizuno JPX900, and Titlesit 718AP. 

Cobra King Forged Tec Black

Cobra junior golf clubs

Cobra King Forged Tec Black


Playability Factor:

Game Improvement

Recommended for:

Advanced Juniors

Club Head Weight:

262 grams

Retail Price (set of 7 irons):

$1,099+

Advanced juniors wanting more workability and feedback than the King F8 irons should consider the 2018 Cobra King Forged Tec Black irons. These are better player shape irons with a great look while still having good feel and forgiveness.

Technology advancements have been applied compared to the previous Cobra Forged Tec irons. These multi-material construction irons are made with 4140 stainless steel face insert for longer, high flying, straighter shots. Tungsten weights in the heel and toe provide more forgiveness. The TEC in the name stands for Technology Enhanced Cavity and includes a carbon fiber insert that improves sound and feel.

Cobra offers a 71 gram Recoil 660 shaft that could be well suited to many juniors. Similar to the King F8 there is a Forged Tec Black "One Length" version available. Cobra also offers black utility irons and wedges to complete the set. 

The King Forged Tec irons are also a great option for advanced juniors and can be found for approx. $200 less than the newer Forged Tec Black. 

Srixon

Srixon Z765

Cobra junior golf clubs

 Srixon Z765


Playability Factor:

Conventional

Recommended for:

Advanced Juniors

Club Head Weight:

259 grams

Retail Price (set of 7 irons):

$960+

These are excellent "under the radar" forged 1020 carbon steel irons. They have the buttery feel of an advanced player club while still providing adequate forgiveness. The sole has a V-shape with leading edge bounce, designed to prevent irons from digging into the turf. There is enough perimeter weighting to provide some forgiveness while not sacrificing feel and feedback.

Srixon Z565

Srixon Z 565 7PC Iron Set - Steel

 Srixon Z565


Playability Factor:

Conventional

Recommended for:

Intermediate to Advanced Juniors

Club Head Weight:

261 grams

Retail Price (set of 7 irons):

$965+

Intermediate juniors should also consider the very similar looking Z565 irons which have slightly more of a cavity back and provide a little more forgiveness than the Z765's. Even advanced juniors may want to consider the Z565 irons for longer irons (e.g. 3 through 6 irons). 

Conclusion

The transition from kids' clubs (such as USKids and Flynn Golf/VT Max) to adult clubs can be difficult given the sheer number of options and variables involved.

The basics are:

  1. Choose a club design with playability suitable to your junior's level. Always go with more forgiveness than less to give your junior the best experience. Forged blades may look cool but they generally are not going to be suitable for juniors.
  2. Get fitted if you can. If you cannot do professional fitting make sure you choose a shaft that is the right size, flex and weight for your junior (e.g. do not get stiff steel shafts for a junior with a slower swing speed). Get the right size grips put on the clubs.
  3. Do not be in too much of a rush to move juniors out of U.S. Kids or Flynn Junior Golf clubs. Both are some of the best junior golf clubs - they both make high quality junior irons suitable for kids right up until the time they are big enough and strong enough to play with full size adult clubs. They are also approx. 1/2 the price of new adult clubs so can be replaced every season. In addition, there is a strong second hand market on eBay for good used U.S. Kids club sets and U.S. Kids even has a trade in program that can be used.
  4. We generally find that there is a need to change shafts approx. once a year given how fast juniors grow and get stronger.

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