Do Tall Golfers Have An Advantage?
There is no definitive answer to this question, as there are many factors that can affect a golfer’s performance. A taller golfer will find it easier to generate more clubhead speed but generally will find it more difficult to strike the center of the clubface.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of a player’s height relating to their golf game.
Advantages For Tall Players
Tall Golfers Should Hit The Ball Further
A tall golfer is likely to have longer arms than a shorter player. This will naturally give them a wider swing arc and should allow them to generate more clubhead speed. If this is correctly applied this will lead to greater distance.
While there are still plenty of shorter golfers plying their trade on the PGA tour there does seem to be a trend towards bigger and stronger athletes moving into the professional game.
Gary Player is often quoted about his fears for the days when really big, strong players get into golf and turn every course into pitch and putt.
Taller Players Will Need Longer Clubs
Off-the-shelf clubs generally won’t be adequate for someone significantly over 6 feet in height. Shafts will need lengthening to allow the taller player to address the ball correctly.
However, you can only add an inch or two to your irons and woods before they start to become unwieldy. Very tall golfers might find it difficult to get equipment to suit their longer limbs.
However, having longer clubs should add some extra club head speed and therefore should increase ball speed. This in turn should lead to greater driving distance and more distance through the bag.
Most of the competitors in long drive events use longer shafts to gain some additional speed. Every inch you add to the shaft should give you roughly 1 mile-per-hour extra speed.
Disadvantages For Tall Players
Reduced Availability Of Equipment
Standard clubs aren’t going to cut the mustard for tall people. They will need to get their clubs adjusted to a suitable length for their height. Don’t forget that adjusting the length of the shaft will also affect the flex. This might make it more difficult to get the correct setup to suit your swing.
Taller ladies might be able to get away with using standard men’s clubs up to a certain height though.
Lie Angle Will Need Adjusting
A taller golfer will almost certainly need the lie of their clubs adjusted to address their height difference.
Setup Is More Awkward
You can only adjust the length and lie of golf clubs by so much. This means that really tall golfers need to adjust their setup to allow for the fact that their clubs are not all that different from a standard set. The taller a player gets the more awkward the setup starts to look.
Excessive Leg Action
Above average height players have a tendency to develop excessive leg action through the swing. There tends to be a general instability because of their longer legs and many develop an overly aggressive knee drive. So Nick Faldo who is 6’3″, spent thousands of hours trying to remove the swing faults under the guidance of David Leadbetter before going on to win his six majors.
Greater Chance Of Injury
Evidence from professional golf seems to suggest that taller players are more injury prone.
Harder To Find The Sweet Spot
Having long arms and extended clubs will lead to a larger swing arc and more speed and distance. However, this will make it more difficult to strike the ball correctly and produce consistent golf.
Is Height An Advantage In Golf?
Looking at a list of the top 20 all-time major champions would suggest that height isn’t particularly advantageous to golfers.
|Name||Years Active||Wins||Height (m)||Height (feet)|
|1||Jack Nicklaus||1962–1986||18||1.78||5 feet 10 in|
|2||Tiger Woods||1997–2019||15||1.85||6 feet 1 in|
|3||Walter Hagen||1914–1929||11||1.79||5 feet 10.5 in|
|4||Ben Hogan||1946–1953||9||1.74||5 feet 8.5 in|
|4||Gary Player||1959–1978||9||1.68||5 feet 6 in|
|6||Tom Watson||1975–1983||8||1.75||5 feet 9 in|
|7||Harry Vardon||1896–1914||7||1.75||5 feet 9 in|
|7||Bobby Jones||1923–1930||7||1.73||5 feet 8 in|
|7||Gene Sarazen||1922–1935||7||1.66||5 feet 5.5 in|
|7||Sam Snead||1942–1954||7||1.8||5 feet 11 in|
|7||Arnold Palmer||1958–1964||7||1.78||5 feet 10 in|
|12||Lee Trevino||1968–1984||6||1.7||5 feet 7 in|
|12||Nick Faldo||1987–1996||6||1.91||6 feet 3 in|
|12||Phil Mickelson||2004–2021||6||1.91||6 feet 3 in|
|15||John Henry Taylor||1894–1913||5|
|15||Byron Nelson||1937–1945||5||1.85||6 feet 1 in|
|15||Peter Thomson||1954–1965||5||1.78||5 feet 10 in|
|15||Seve Ballesteros||1979–1988||5||1.83||6 feet|
|20||Tom Morris Sr.||1861–1867||4|
|20||Tom Morris Jr.||1868–1872||4||1.73||5 feet 8 in|
|20||Willie Park Sr.||1860–1875||4|
|20||Jim Barnes||1916–1925||4||1.93||6 feet 4 in|
|20||Raymond Floyd||1969–1986||4||1.85||6 feet 1 in|
|20||Ernie Els||1994–2012||4||1.91||6 feet 3 in|
|20||Rory McIlroy||2011–2014||4||1.75||5 feet 9 in|
|20||Brooks Koepka||2017–2019||4||1.83||6 feet|
It’s fair to say that the sample is slightly skewed in favor of older players but even so the majority are below 6 feet in height.
Do Taller Golfers Hit The Ball Further?
While there is certainly the potential for a taller golfer to hit it far there are also plenty of golfers of average height that can keep up with the likes of Dustin Johnson. Rory McIlroy is a prime example. Going back 30 years or so Ian Woosnam was amongst the longest hitters on tour despite being around 5’4″.
Who Are The Tallest Golfers On Tour?
Phil Blackmar at 6’7″ was for a long time the tallest golfer on the PGA Tour. He played the main circuit from 1985 to 2000 and then moved to the Champions Tour between 2007 and 2012.
James Hart du Preez made his PGA Tour debut at the American Express in 2022 He towers above everyone at 6’10”. Jon Thomson is only an inch shorter and made it into the Open Championship in 2021.
Do Tall Golfers Have An Advantage: Conclusion
While having a height advantage can give you a distance boost this is tempered by the fact that your longer levers will make it more difficult for you to create a repeatable golf swing. Smaller golfers will tend to find it slightly easier to strike the ball from the sweet spot more consistently which reduces the height advantage somewhat.
So overall I would conclude that taller golfers do not have an advantage.