Do Tall Golfers Have An Advantage – Pros And Cons Of Being Tall For Golf
One of the best things about golf is that no matter what height or shape you are, you can play the sport. We humans come in all shapes and sizes and, whilst you need to be tall to be a top basketball player, golf isn’t quite as strict about dimensions.
If you look on tour these days though, so many of the golfers are tall. It is common to see guys that are six feet or more. Is there something going on here? Does being tall give you an advantage on the course? Well, thankfully this article is here to help you answer this question.
Is Height Everything In Golf?
Well, I’ll start with a disclaimer, I am tall. I’m 6’3 and have always been on the taller side. I think that it has helped my game through the years and the fact that most of my distance comes from the width of my swing makes me biased.
However, I’m guessing that if you have read even this far you are probably a taller golfer. So you will be pleased to know that I think that height is an advantage and with a couple of careful considerations in your swing you can really use height to your benefit.
Is Height Really An Advantage In Golf?
I think that being tall gives you an advantage, I think that it helps you hit it further more naturally but that’s just mechanics.
Longer levers create more force. However, that’s not to say that smaller golfers can’t bomb it, Rory doesn’t exactly cut a towering figure but he hits it far.
The thing is, if you can’t hit it far as a kid you also probably start to develop your other skills. That means that when you develop your power you will have a more complete game.
So yes, height can help but it really isn’t everything, in fact taller players tend to face more injuries.
What Pros Are Tall? What Pros Are Smaller? What’s Average?
There are a lot of questions here. Who are the taller tour players? Dustin Johnson (6’4), Brooks Koepka (6’0), Tiger Woods (6’0), Phil Mickelson (6’3), Jon Rahm (6’2). Some huge success in that list.
Who Are The Smaller Players?
Ian Woosnam wins on the diminutive front at 5’4 1/2. Rory McIlroy (5’9), Rickie Fowler (5’9) and at 5’10 there is Paul Casey, Xander Schauffele, Louis Oosthuizen and Jack Nicklaus.
The average height is around 6 feet, so, pretty tall.
Fundamentals Of Golf For Taller Players
As a taller golfer, you will tend to have a more upright swing.
This can lead to a steeper attack on the ball but it is important to make the most of your height and work to keep the hands high during your swing.
A long and fluid swing is the key to making the most of your height.
If you are tall, and I will mention this a few times during this article, you want to build your swing around smooth tempo and rhythm.
It is rare to see a tall golfer who attacks the ball, just sweep it away in a smooth way.
Advantages Of Being Tall In Golf
Right so we’ve mentioned this a few times but being tall helps you generate width in your swing.
More width means more distance, if you can use it properly.
Having this helps you gain clubhead speed without the need for throwing your hands and body at the shot.
Taller golfers tend to get fitted for longer clubs, these tend to give you more distance.
Think about it, those long drive competitors use extra-long drivers don’t they? 2 extra inches on the driver can give you around 2mph extra.
More Swing Torque
Having long limbs means that the distance between your joints is longer.
This results in you creating more torque during your swing, this equals power and speed which results in distance. All just because you are taller.
Disadvantages Of Being Tall In Golf
Tour data suggests that taller players tend to suffer more injuries.
More height can put more pressure on your joints and golf is pretty rough on the joints at times as it is. Taller golfers should really look after themselves more.
Longer Levers Are Harder To Control
You are more accurate with your wedge than you are with your 3 iron aren’t you?
Well that is the perfect over-exaggeration of this phenomenon. If you are taller and have those longer limbs then, whilst they may help create more speed, they are harder to control.
You Need Custom Clubs
If you are tall and you try to play with “off of the shelf” clubs.
Tall golfers need a more upright lie angle and a bit of extra length on the shafts.
If you play with clubs that are too flat then you can expect to be hitting a lot of shots left during your round.
Being tall means that your center of gravity is higher. In golfing terms this translates into reduced stability.
To counter this you will benefit from slowing your swing tempo down and widening your stance.
If you loose your balance at the end of your swing then you need to increase stability.
In What Way Does Height Affect The Swing?
Like I said earlier, taller golfers tend to have steeper swings, Matt Kuchar being the notable exception. You will tend to have much higher hands at the top of your swing which can sometimes lead to a disconnection in your swing if you’re not careful.
Do Taller Players Hit The Ball Further?
The thing is that power can be developed in the golf swing in a number of ways.
Good tempo and long levers can add distance to your game.
If you look at Rory’s swing his power comes from using the ground to develop power and a flawless use of the kinetic chain to create one of the fastest and most impressive golf swings in the sport.
Top Tips For Taller Golfers
Firstly, use your height to your advantage, develop a long swing to make the most of your stature.
Most importantly, work on developing good tempo and rhythm. Think of the beautiful swing of Ernie Els, emulate that and you can’t go far wrong!
If you are tall then the worst thing you can do is throw your hands at the ball. This can lead to an overly steep angle of attack which will develop an over the top swing.
This can cause you to lose control of the ball. Trust me, it’s a messy state of affairs and it is to be avoided.
Can You Be Too Tall For Golf?
Not really, I mean, you can be so tall that pretty much everything is difficult.
However, I have a cousin in Canada who is 6’11 and he is managing to learn how to play so if he can do it then so can you!
The tallest ever winner on the PGA Tour was Phil Blackmar who is a towering 6’7 and won three tournaments ion his career.
His height has only been surpassed by 6’8 Jordan Hahn who competed on the PGA Tour this year in the Vaspar Championship.
Do Taller Players Need Longer Clubs?
This is a common misconception, but height isn’t always the best determining factor for club length.
A better measure is the ground to hand measurement, the larger this length the longer your clubs should be.
Most taller players would add about an inch to their clubs if needs, getting a fitting is the best option for most players to get their clubs aligned with their game.
Is Height An Advantage With Every Club Or Just Some?
I would say that the biggest advantage of being tall comes with the long and mid-irons.
With the driver and the wedges it can mean less control but the middle of the bag is the sweet spot as the extra distance can mean less club when attacking greens.
What About Putting As A Tall Player?
Putting is often referred to as a game within a game.
That means that everyone has to work on their putting skills and you will only be as good as the practice you put in.
I would say that height is neither and advantage or disadvantage, you just may want to have a wider stance for stability.
Driver Lie Angle For Taller Players
Like I said earlier, being taller means that custom clubs are a good idea, I was referring to irons there but adjustable drivers mean that you can give yourself a more upright lie angle.
Many golfers don’t do this, speak to your club pro to ask if this would be a good idea for you.
Should Taller Golfers Use A Wider Stance?
One mistake that many golfers make is not having a sturdy enough base to their whole action.
If you don’t have a wide enough stance it can wreak havoc through you whole bag and this is even worse for tall golfers.
Your higher center of gravity means that you are inherently more unstable.
This isn’t to say that tall golfers need a super-wide stance, shoulder-width is absolutely fine.
However, the point here is that for tall golfers it is really important to make sure you are strict with the width of your stance.
Are Long Arms Good For Golf?
Have you heard of the Ape Index?
This is a measure of your arm span compared to your height and it has been shown that an Ape Index of over 1.0 (arm span is great than your height) can give you an advantage in many different sports from rock climbing to swimming.
Golf is no different here and having long arms can actually be more beneficial than height in general.
Having long arms will tend to help you generate the width during your golf swing which we have already established will help you generate speed in your swing.
Problems For Tall Golfers
Being tall can bring an array of issues in your golf game but nothing that you can’t work on to prevent.
One thing is that you may end up with lower back issues.
The golf swing can put strain on this part of the body anyway but being tall it can be even worse.
You may also struggle with an “early extension” which can be more common in tall golfers.
You also must avoid driving with the knees which can lead to you doing a weird “sideways limbo” through the ball. Keep your height, stand tall and proud as you roll through the ball at impact.
Tall Vs Short Golfers
To go back to where I started, the beauty of golf is that you can play it and enjoy it no matter what height you are.
As a tall golfer you will be given certain advantages and disadvantages as we have listed throughout this article, but what about those who don’t have height on their side.
Well, they have a couple of advantages. They have more inherent stability in their swing plus their height confers a consistency in the plane of their swing.
This is something that tall golfers can struggle with as their height can give them more options which is often not a good thing in golf.
Like all things in life, in golf there are advantages and disadvantages of being tall.
The key here is learning about what benefits your height can give you and maximize that whilst minimizing what issues being tall can cause your swing.
A good coach can really help you in on this front.
One thing that will definitely help you is getting yourself some custom clubs that are set up for you.
Once you have this sorted then you should focus your swing development on your lower-half stability.
Take these two steps and you’re well on your way to making your height work for you.