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.

Do Tall Golfers Have An Advantage

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.

NameYears ActiveWinsHeight (m)Height (feet)
1Jack Nicklaus1962–1986181.785 feet 10 in
2Tiger Woods1997–2019151.856 feet 1 in
3Walter Hagen1914–1929111.795 feet 10.5 in
4Ben Hogan1946–195391.745 feet 8.5 in
4Gary Player1959–197891.685 feet 6 in
6Tom Watson1975–198381.755 feet 9 in
7Harry Vardon1896–191471.755 feet 9 in
7Bobby Jones1923–193071.735 feet 8 in
7Gene Sarazen1922–193571.665 feet 5.5 in
7Sam Snead1942–195471.85 feet 11 in
7Arnold Palmer1958–196471.785 feet 10 in
12Lee Trevino1968–198461.75 feet 7 in
12Nick Faldo1987–199661.916 feet 3 in
12Phil Mickelson2004–202161.916 feet 3 in
15James Braid1901–19105
15John Henry Taylor1894–19135
15Byron Nelson1937–194551.856 feet 1 in
15Peter Thomson1954–196551.785 feet 10 in
15Seve Ballesteros1979–198851.836 feet
20Tom Morris Sr.1861–18674
20Tom Morris Jr.1868–187241.735 feet 8 in
20Willie Park Sr.1860–18754
20Willie Anderson1901–19054
20Jim Barnes1916–192541.936 feet 4 in
20Bobby Locke1949–19574
20Raymond Floyd1969–198641.856 feet 1 in
20Ernie Els1994–201241.916 feet 3 in
20Rory McIlroy2011–201441.755 feet 9 in
20Brooks Koepka2017–201941.836 feet
Golf Major Champions Height

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.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]

Do Tall Golfers Have An Advantage?

Historically there is little if any evidence that tall golfers have much of an advantage. Certainly looking at the greatest players in history the majority have been under 6 feet. However, in more recent years there has been an increasing number of “big” men winning the top prizes. This is probably due in part to the growing size of players on the tour and the population in general.

Who are the tallest professional golfers?

James Hart du Preez is probably the tallest on the PGA Tour at 6’10”. Phil Blackmar was for many years the tallest player at 6’7″.

What Is The Best Lie Angle For Tall Golfers?

To find the best lie angle for a tall golfer it is best if they get a dynamic custom fitting. While it is likely that a tall golfer might need a more upright lie and possibly longer shafts it is not necessarily guaranteed.

Similar Posts