Ping reinvent the concept of junior clubs with new Prodi G line
Children, I have noticed, do not always listen to their parents or follow in their footsteps but it is fair to assume that any youngster would love to own a set of Pings just like mum’s or dad’s.
With most kids as quick to grow out of golf clubs as they are school shoes and food that isn’t beige, the standard formula is, quite reasonably, to offer a scaled-down version when it comes to junior golf clubs.
Four or five clubs is sufficient, with no need to incorporate the latest technologies or component quality while they are just getting into the game.
After all, even if Little Johnny or Jessie doesn’t have a growth spurt then you can be sure they will lose interest in golf the moment after you’ve invested heavily in some new kit.
It also makes sense to buy a set they can grow into to ensure you get at least a couple of years of use.
Doesn’t it? Well, not according to Ping, whose new Prodi G junior golf clubs don’t follow any of these rules.
Instead, the kit is every bit as good as your own. In fact, right now, my eight-year-old son’s new clubs are better than mine.
Ping have apparently concluded that if the rest of their clubs are as good as they can make them then why should it be any different for their junior golf clubs?
While all the Prodi G clubs can be bought individually, the full set comprises a driver (SRP: £215), a fairway wood (SRP: £110), a hybrid (SRP: £90), 6-PW, two wedges and a putter. That’s 11 clubs.
It’s hard to know which part of the set to start with: the driver has turbulators just like the full-size G400.
The irons (SRP: £60) are the same to look down as any number of Ping irons made for grown-ups over the years and the putter (SRP: £60) just looks like the kind of model that normally comes with a three-figure price tag.
What really caught my eye, though, were the wedges (SRP: £60) – they simply look just the same, down to the gun-metal finish – as the Glide 2.0 wedges we’ve seen Ping’s tour staff use.
When I removed the covers they came in I expected to see something chunky and multi-purpose – no, there are stylish, sleek gap and lob wedge options.
All of these clubs are fitted with lightweight Ping graphite shafts and, the final flourish, junior versions of Golf Pride’s Tour Velvet grip.
Go for the whole set, and the special Prodi G Hoofer bag (SRP: £120) to put them in, and the total price comes to over £1,000 (£1,015 to be precise).
Pick and choose, though, and that price will of course come down significantly. There is nothing to say your child needs all 11 clubs.
The clubs are initially custom-fitted based on the child’s height and wrist-to-floor measurement. The clubs will fit them from the moment they unwrap them.
But what about when they grow out of them in 18 months’ time? Well, this may well be the clincher for many parents.
Buy a set of Prodi Gs and Ping will, as part of the original price, take the clubs back and adjust them to the new optimum shaft, length and weight when your child has grown out of their clubs. They will even replace the grips.
“One of the biggest barriers parents of junior golfers face is investing in a set of clubs that their kids will out-grow in a short time,” said Ping president John K Solheim.
“As a result, they often buy clubs that don’t fit their kids in hopes they’ll grow into them or they cut down old clubs. Neither option is ideal and impedes the junior’s golf development.
“Our ‘Get Golf Growing’ programme is designed to be an affordable way to get juniors into high-performance custom-fit clubs while bringing more boys and girls to the sport.
“The Prodi G clubs grow with the kids,” said Solheim.
You might say that effectively halves your investment. It probably means you won’t need to buy another set for a good four years.
And having the right kit surely increases the chances of the junior enjoying the game more and becoming a better golfer.
“We believe if juniors are exposed to better equipment, they’ll enjoy golf more, which will ultimately help grow the game as the kids fall in love with golf and play it for a lifetime,” said Solheim.
Let’s be clear and say that this set of junior golf clubs certainly not be a product for everyone.
However, I’m willing to suggest that there will be someone at every golf club with pockets deep enough to see a set of Prodi-Gs as a worthwhile investment. Who will respect the fact that Ping are doing this properly.
And who understands that it is arguably never more important to have clubs that are built for you than at a time when your body is still growing by the week.
For that, Ping should surely be applauded. There will be plenty of parents who think that £80 or so is ample to indulge on junior golf clubs – and that is absolutely fine too.
But this product offers a genuine point of difference. These clubs are better than anything else currently available. Any kid lucky enough to own a set of Prodi Gs really does have every chance of going on to be a lifelong golfer.
“For the first time, junior golfers can play the same technology as mum or dad that is custom fit and custom built just for them,” Solheim said.
“We believe that has an appeal all on its own and will help get kids interested in playing more.”
And what of my 8-year-old? Well, at the weekend his best friend came round to play. As they rushed to the garage to get his bike, I heard him proudly boasting about how many clubs were in his new set of clubs and the size of his new driver.
“Wow,” said his friend. “Can I have a go and can your dad take us to the driving range?”
I would say they are definitely a hit.
Ping Prodi G clubs are available now from all Ping stockists.
More information can be found on the Ping website