There are a number of "special situations" that don't fit naturally
of the other sections. They are:
Ideally, there's no such thing!
You should fit a female golfer for clubs exactly as you should
Because of statistical averages in the population:
- The clubs will probably turn out to be shorter, not because of gender
but because the golfer is smaller.
- The shafts will probably turn out to be softer, not because of gender
but because lower strength means less shaft bend.
In each case, I said "probably". That's important. There are women who
are taller than the average male golfer. There are women who
hit it further. Base your club design on
the specific golfer in question can do, not on your assumptions based
- The grips will probably turn out to be smaller, not because of gender
but because the golfer is smaller.
That said, let us admit that if you make a lot of clubs for
women, you will
encounter parameters that are seldom faced for men. The bottom quartile
women in height or swing speed require a design that the average
will never encounter for an adult male. Let's explore the significant
you'll have to deal with in these cases.
I confess to not knowing anything from direct experience about clubs
pre-teens. I have some practical suggestions for clubs for teenagers,
on having seen my own kids through from 12 to adulthood on a variety of
- When this page was first composed in the 1990s, "women's" clubheads
in the catalogs were identical to the "men's" clubheads except for
cosmetics, with few exceptions. Today, some companies are tailoring
clubhead specs for women. Hardly all of them, and not a big difference,
but something substantive is happening. Hireko among the component
companies adds a couple of degrees of loft to their women's line of
irons. The last catalog I had from Tom Wishon Golf Technology (which is
now gone; Tom retired) had a radically different set makeup as well as
different specs. In looking through Callaway's iron specs, I notice
that one of their women's models has higher loft than the comparable
men's set -- but another is exactly the same. Let's look at what is
likely to be different in the specs a typical or smaller-than-typical
woman would need.
- Weight. Don't worry about looking for a lighter head. The probable
shorter length of the club will get you down to the lower swingweight or MOI, in the vicinity of what you need.
- Loft. If the golfer has a slow swing, a little extra loft will be helpful to get the
ball off the deck. A golfer with a normal or strong swing doesn't need
this feature, and shouldn't get it. And this is the substantive spec that some companies (not all, and not all models) are adjusting for women's clubs.
- Lie. On average, women are shorter
than men. If the golfer is short but has a strong swing, she may do
better with longer clubs. If you remember the section on length and
lie, this means a flatter lie. Some "women's" clubheads come in a
flatter lie for this reason.
like color choice and
paint fill in the grooves. If your golfer cares about this, it limits
her choice of clubhead. But most women I know who play golf want clubs
that perform. If they can get beyond the label of a "man's" clubhead,
it gives them a much bigger choice. (When my wife played, her clubs had
heads that were nominally "men's", and it never bothered her. They were
heads for her.)
So if you fit a lot of women, look for the companies that offer
clubs with higher than normal lofts and perhaps flatter than normal lie
angles. By the same token, you should probably be familiar with these
same models in case you need to fit a short male golfer or a senior
whose swing lacks punch.
- Fit the shaft to the swing and size of the golfer, not to
the gender. But on average, women have slower, lower-acceleration
swings than men. This calls for a shaft with a lot more flex, raising
an interesting problem. On average, the clubs will have to be shorter,
which tends to stiffen them up. The Dynacraft-Apollo study showed that
most "L" flex shafts, when cut an inch shorter than standard (i.e.-
when cut to the "standard women's" length), were actually stiffer than
an "A" flex shaft at standard length. So be sure to allow for the
shorter shaft when choosing and trimming the shaft for someone with a
slow swing and a short stature. There are quite a few really soft "L"
flex graphite shafts. You can still buy the True Temper steel "Release"
model, but it may be nearing the end of its market life; I have
recently (2017) seen sales on it that suggest "closeout".
- On average, women have smaller hands than men. The
so-called "women's grips" are smaller in diameter than the nominal
"men's grips". But don't hesitate to use them for a man with small
hands as well.
The grip diameter is a very significant aspect of the
"feel" of a club. Rather than making assumptions based on gender, fit
every golfer for the right grip for him or her. (For example, my wife
takes an instant like or dislike to a club based on grip diameter.
That's a prerequisite for her; once that's right, she's willing to
evaluate the rest of the club.)
- Set Makeup
- Don't be afraid to suggest a completely different set
makeup from the traditional "men's" set. (For that matter, don't be
afraid to suggest it for the men, too. Back to that in a moment.)
A lot of women on the LPGA Tour have given up longer
irons and replaced them with hybrids or lofted woods. The lofted woods are easier
to hit with a slower clubhead speed. If the woman wants "macho", point
out that Annika Sorenstam and Liselotte Neumann won their U.S.Opens
with no iron longer than a #5 in their bag. When I realized this, and
noted that they hit their clubs about as far as I did -- I don't hit a
200-yd 5-iron like the male touring pros -- I ditched a couple of long
irons myself. My own longest iron is a 5-iron; longer than that are hybrids and then woods.
If your customer doesn't have Annika's or Liselotte's
ballstriking, and doesn't have an ego problem about that, you can vary
the set makeup even more radically. Look again at the section on how distance varies with loft.
- For a 80mph clubhead speed, carry distance is maximized
at 16 degrees.
- For a 60mph clubhead speed, carry distance is maximized
at 22 degrees.
My wife and I used to play regularly at a course where 80% of the
women golfers have clubhead speeds of 60mph or less. When we visit
relatives in retirement communities, 100% of the women and over 50% of
the men fit that description. They should not be thinking "driver".
They should be thinking "tee club", and we should be fitting them for
appropriate tee clubs. Plenty of loft, but large-volume heads for
forgivingness (the ball IS up on a tee, so a low-profile head isn't
Such clubheads used to exist, in the form of "super-jumbo" 3-woods
and 5-woods. These were in the volume range of 200-250cc -- smaller
than a modern driver, but still big enough to lend confidence. I've
built quite a
- Three-woods (15 degrees of loft) at 230cc and more, for
those 80mph swings.
- Five-woods at (21 degrees of loft) at 200cc and more,
for those 60mph swings.
My wife had one of the latter, and loved it. Actually,
she has gone through several of them. A friend or aunt tries it
out, and won't give it back; I have to make my wife a new one.
So think in terms of clubs with more loft as an integral
part of the set makeup. Don't be afraid to leave out a driver, and even
a 3-wood. A light bag is a good thing. Or more wedges for a refined
short game may be a stroke saver.
Once kids are big enough to be at least within the range of
(say, over 5 feet tall), they grow amazingly quickly and keeping them
properly fitted clubs can be expensive. The way I dealt with it was to
the lookout for used clubs at garage sale prices. You can't buy these
when you want them, so "stockpile" them. They do show up often enough
you can always have the raw materials for the next set around when
needed. I don't think I ever spent over $20 for the a set of clubs for
younger son (before work and regripping). I had to pay more for my
son's clubs because, as a left-hander, he required a rarer commodity.
Here's what I did to make them a new set:
Most of the big vendors sell sets of heads for younger
children. Some are
actually lighter and higher-lofter than comparable adult components.
are made of cheaper materials to keep the cost down (e.g.- zinc alloy
the irons and aluminum alloy for the woods). The theory is that the
can't hit the ball as hard, so a weaker material isn't a problem. I
admit to no expertise in this area.
Anyway, the rules of thumb seem to be:
- Check their size frequently, to get the length and grip
- If you have the opportunity, keep the softest flex you can
in the shaft, at least until the child is a teenager and hitting the
ball hard enough with a long enough club so you can reasonably adjust
- Don't over-worry about weight. The shorter clubs will
lower the swingweight enough so this isn't a factor.
Last modified May 16, 2017