Being tall on the golf course has a few advantages and some of the best golf swings in the game both past and present, belong to them. Tom Weiskopf, Ernie Els, Sir Nick Faldo, and Davis Love 111 come to mind. They all seem to hit the ball far with effortless grace, and none better than “The Big Easy” Ernie Els.
The Effect of Modern Equipment on Tall Golfers
Unlike the old days, tall golfers in the modern era have equipment that is fitted perfectly for their height, swing speed, and shaft choice. Most Pros have a swing speed in excess of 110 mph, and the stiffer shafts cater to this. Shafts are lengthened to allow for an upright stance. Golf ball manufacturers develop and produce balls with input from the top players.
What about the Tall Amateur?
All the above are available for every golfer who cares to take the time to test and find the right equipment to improve their game. Having said this, it may be a good idea to explore the simple tips that can improve a tall golfers’ all-around game.
Stand Closer to the Ball at Address. This may seem automatic, but some tall players crouch at address and stand too far away from the ball. It not only looks unnatural but inhibits a free-flowing swing. The stance should be comfortable, stable, and evenly balanced. Think of a baseball shortstop. He can move left or right quickly from a balanced stable position. A good check is to take up the address position and measure 4 fingers from the butt of the handle to the belt buckle.
Stance Width. A tall golfer should stand with the heels of both feet no further than the width of the shoulders apart. For some reason, many instructors believe that a wide stance is good for tall people. A stance that is too wide encourages a “sway” away from the ball rather than a shoulder and hip turn on the backswing. Probably the most common fault amongst all golfers.
Lengthen the Shafts. Lengthening the shafts is an easy exercise, where “wooden plugs” are inserted into the top of the shaft, before fitting the grip. This allows for a taller stance over the ball. While on the subject of shafts, too often players tend to believe they have a higher or faster swing speed than they actually achieve. Playing with a shaft that is too stiff will cause all kinds of ball control problems. The trajectory will be wrong and shots will be “sprayed” all over the course. Have your swing speed checked and remember the iron swing speed is approx 75% of the driver’s swing speed.
Have the Lie Angle Adjusted. Increasing the length of a shaft will change the lie angle of the club at address. This adjustment is paramount to hitting the ball straight and with consistency. Testing the Lie Angle can be done at home with some tape on the sole of the club, and a wooden or hard plastic board. Hit a stationary ball off the board a few times and establish where the marks on the tape are. The Middle of the sole means no adjustment, while the mark towards the toe or heel requires adjustment. Any golf retail store can do this in minutes for you.
Swing Arc. By standing tall over the ball, the swing arc increases and automatically produces more distance. Every amateur wants to hit the ball far, and tall players can achieve this with less effort, provided the swing sequence is maintained. There is no need to “thrash” the ball.
Swing Sequence. Any golfer having played the game for a few years will have heard and understood this term. Standing tall and closer to the ball, the takeaway and turn seem to be effortless by the better player. Starting the downswing from the bottom up is a basic fundamental, and is easier to accomplish for taller players. The hips start the downswing and clear out the way before the right side moves through the ball. These are the power moves and taller players should try to establish these moves and will be amazed at the results. The longer arc increases clubhead speed, without trying to smash the cover off the ball.
Club Grip. Generally, tall players have slightly bigger hands and longer fingers. The correct grip fitment will ensure a comfortable feeling on the club. The club handle should fit perfectly in the fingers and palm at all times. Too often grips are too thin, which requires unnecessary adjustment before playing a shot. It is worthwhile remembering that the hands are the only contact point with the club, and if they are uncomfortable or unstable on the club, don’t expect to play consistent golf. Professional golfers always refer to the words “feel or comfort” when selecting clubs to put in play.
Disadvantages of being a Tall Golfer
- The longer the club or shaft, the more difficult it is to control. However, this can be overcome with practice and understanding your swing.
- Extra-long shafts and Lie adjustment are required. These are easy fixes and are not a costly exercise.
- Playing in windy conditions. It is said, The tallest trees get the most wind, but playing from a stable balanced address position over the ball, will negate these influences. Playing in windy conditions is the same for all players.
Tips for Playing in the Wind.
The tendency is to swing harder, quicker and faster at the ball. Rushing the shot is not the answer.
- Conversely, swing slower through the ball and shorten the backswing if conditions are really tough.
- Take an extra club and shorten the grip on the club when playing approach shots to the green.
- Don’t hit high flying approach shots, but rather play pitch and roll shots.
- Widen the stance slightly if balance becomes a problem.
- Concentrate on rhythm in the swing and watch the good results.
As mentioned earlier in this article, the most elegant swings in the game come from taller golfers. Their rhythm is a treat to watch, and collectively their Tour results are not too shabby. Set yourself up properly with the correct clubs, shafts, lie angle, and grips. Follow the tips in this article and enjoy being envied by the shorter, squatter players around you!
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Nick Lomas is the founder of GolfSpan, an avid golfer, not quite a pro but has over 15-years of experience playing and coaching golfers from all over the world. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience then it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game.