Tips for Tall Golfers Revised

Being a tall golfer means that much of standard golf instruction needs to be modified. I’m 6’6″ tall, and while this has never seemed like a handicap, I do have to approach the golf swing differently than shorter golfers do.

Start with equipment. You should have your clubs fitted. Off the rack ain’t gonna work. They might have to be longer and get bent a few degrees upright.

During the setup, you will have a narrow stance. The traditional separation of your feet is to place you insteps as far apart as the width of your shoulders. This might be too far apart for you.

A tall golfer must stand as tall as he can.* Do not bend over and reach for the ball. By bending over too much, shown below, you create angles in your swing that make it difficult to maneuver the club effortlessly, but still full of power.

To stand taller, as shown below, you will have to stand closer to the ball. The way to stand taller is to elevate your hip at the same time you bend over from it. Bend over, but not down. When you bend your torso forward it should feel like your backside is coming up.

Make sure your upper body, especially your abdomen, does not collapse. Your back should be as straight in the address position as it is when you stand upright. Your head can fall forward, but only enough that your neck does not feel rigid.

Your swing is primarily a hands and arms swing. It should be easy for them to carry your body around to a ninety degree angle from address. The elbows should stay close together in their address relationship throughout the swing to keep the swing from becoming too loose.

Your swing is going to be more upright, feeling like it starts back and up from the ball instead of back and around.

Because your swing is longer, it takes more time. Let it. Do not rush it, especially the forward swing. A slower tempo will allow all of its parts to come together in their proper time.

There is a tendency for a tall golfer to slide the lower body through through impact rather than turn. This leads to pushing the ball because your arms are blocked from swinging the clubhead straight toward the target.

To counteract that tendency, begin the forward swing with a turn of your hips, followed by the swing of your arms, as two separate movements.

Pay extra attention to balance. It will be easier for a tall golfer to get out of balance while swinging a golf club than someone who is not altitudinally gifted.

In general, tall golfers have swings that appear graceful, flowing, and effortless. I get compliments on the appearance of my swing almost every time out. We get the same job done with much less effort. Enjoy it.

*I’m using the male pronoun given the likelihood that few of my female readers are six-and-a-half feet tall.

Three Questions for Phil Mickelson

Here are three question reporters at the U.S. Open should have asked Phil Mickelson yesterday.

1. You accused the PGA Tour of “obnoxious greed.” How would you characterize the $200 million that you accepted from the Saudi government?

2. You have said several times that playing on the LIV Tour is an opportunity to help to grow the game of golf. In what ways is the LIV Tour growing golf that the PGA Tour is not?

3. You once referred to the Saudis as “scary mother****ers.” What caused you to say that?

Incremental Putting Drills

I have been doing this new putting drill for the past few days, something that I just fell into doing when I wasn’t paying attention.

In my back room there is an 8′ carpet on the floor. I started putting from two feet, then began moving the ball back a slight bit for each successive putt.

I thought I would formalize the drill, so the ball gets moved back one ball-width each time, out to about 7½ feet. If you measure it strictly, that’s 39 putts.

I doesn’t take too long to complete the drill, and you get a lot of good practice at making the same stroke every time.

Years ago I did a drill going in the other direction. It takes about 20-odd golf balls to do this.

Putt a ball to about six or seven feet a way. It doesn’t matter where it ends up. Putt the next ball so it j-u-u-st touches the ball you just hit. Continue.

What you should end up with is however many balls in a straight line, all touching each other.

This is a great drill for short putt distance control, something that is more important than you might think.

Golf Is a Language

This morning I was taking my weekly six-mile hike in the hills south of town. Six miles up hill and down dale. When I’m out there, my mind wanders to places I never expect. This morning it struck me that golf is a language.

When we study a new language, we learn vocabulary and the rules of grammar. But at the same time we learn how to apply those things to speaking the language.

Because, knowing a set of words and the rules for putting them together is not enough for expressing a coherent thought in the new language. We have to learn how to speak in sentences that mean something.

In golf, shot-making skills are analogous to vocabulary and grammar. They are what allow us to play the game.

But still we have to learn how to play. We have to learn, for particular situation, what shot to hit, with what club, and to where. And if conditions are unusual, we also have to know how to hit the shot.

Playing, in my analogy, corresponds to speaking.

Conditions at the driving range are pretty normal. You just aren’t going to encounter all the different situations a golf course will throw at you.

Only by playing can you learn how to take out of your bag of tricks the right one at the right time.

Golf then is a matter of (a) developing skills and (b) learning how to use them on the golf course.

All this sounds obvious, but let me ask you. How much attention do you pay on the course to what works and doesn’t work, compared to doing the same thing at the range? Not as much, maybe?

It doesn’t matter how good you look at the range. The only question is, when you take your range skills to the course, how well do you use them to get the ball in the hole?

How well do you speak the language of golf?

One Change to Lower Your Golf Score Guaranteed

I’m going to present you with some information that you can’t argue with and which points the way to shooting lower scores without having to hit one pracice ball.

The main reason why recreational golfers have a hard time making par when they get up to the green is that they didn’t get up far enough. They don’t arrive.

The chart below shows that over 80 percent of approach shots by recreational golfers finish short of the center of the green, and over one-third of approach shots never get as far as the green.

To have your best chance at a par, your shot into the green has to get there. It has to arrive. We will always have problems with hitting the ball to the right or left, but we should never have a problem with being too short.

For shots you fly into the green, play the ball to end up past the pin.* This is the scoring zone. Why?

First of all, if you play for going past the pin, mishits will still land on the green. Second, you avoid trouble, which is usually in front of the green. Third, you make up for a general tendency to underclub.

When I mention this on forums, some people respond by saying they play short to avoid the trouble behind the green. But to hit the ball over the green you have to flush it. And how often do you do that?

Any shot into the green has to get there. Instead of your best 7, hit an easy 6. O.K.?

*Except, obviously, pins that are in the back.

Take the Hit Out of Your Swing

I have to remind myself of something constantly. And it’s not to keep the lid to the toilet down. I have that one figured out.

It’s rather to stop trying to hit the ball a long way by hitting it hard.

I have written about this before. But as I said then, this advice is difficult to remember.

Today in my backyard driving range, after hitting about ten plastic balls not really that well, I decided to just make my swing feel like a walk in the park.

I hope that means something to you, because it did to me. It didn’t result in slowing down my swing that much, if at all, but it made my swing flow better. That’s the best way I can describe it.

The result, of course, was a dead center hit that made a loud crack against the clubface instead of a muffled whatever. Ball flight? I’ll take it any day.

Just too make sure that wasn’t pure luck, I did the same thing again and got the same result.

Find a way to build this idea into your game in a way that means something to you.

And then do a better job of remembering it than I do.

Acquire Positive Habits at the Range

There’s a lot to think about when you’re playing golf. The less you have to think about, the better it will be for you.

That means making as much as you can automatic. I know that every so often you play less than your best because you forgot to do something important in hitting your shot.

The way out of that lapse is to practice shotmaking habits when you go to the range. This is what I mean.

There’s a ball in front of you. Before you swing at it, check your grip, aim yourself and check your aim, check your ball position, check your posture. EVERY TIME. It takes only a few seconds to do this, and by going through this procedure before every range ball, you take one step closer to not forgetting to do it when you play.

If you have a practice swing technique you rely on, do that, too.

By doing this sixty times before you hit sixty balls, the same way every time, you build habit. You’ll eventually do it right without even thinking about it. That’s your goal.

Or when you putt on the practice green, do the same thing. Before you hit any putt, line it up. Get a feel for the distance, however you do that.* Check your grip. Check how far away from the ball you stand. Check the width of your stance. Check your posture. Check your aim. Check the alignment of the putter’s face. There might be some more things for you. There are for me, but they are personal, so I won’t go into them.

The point is to go through the whole procedure before any shot to build up the habit. All of it is automatic so all you have to think about is hitting the ball into the fairway/green/hole.

I’m not forgetting the short game, but you should be able to fill in that blank on your own.

Another way of looking at this is that automatic features of your game keep you from straying from what works. We get lazy, we forget. Then you aren’t playing well and you can’t figure out what went wrong.

Every time you go the range practice your shotmaking procedures constantly. The little things. You will never get to the point where you can stop doing this.

*Read my distance finding method called Triangulated Approach Putting.

My Putting Stance

Sometimes I fall into something quite by accident and I find out that it works really well. Most of the time these accidents don’t work so well, but here’s one that does, in regard to putting.

When I take my stance, my upper arms arm press lightly against my torso. Don’t worry, this isn’t anchoring. That only applies to fixing the forearm(s) against something.

Try this. Sit in a chair, press your upper arms lightly against your torso, put your forearms straight out (parallel to the floor), and join your hands.

Now swing your arms back and forth, sliding them against your torso. See how your hands return to their exact staring spot?

If you putt using this setup and motion, your putter will moving along the right path when it hits the ball, and the putter face will be as square as it was at address.

What more can you ask for?

For short putts, your torso doesn’t have to turn, but for approach putts it’s O.K. if it does, and it should, actually.

Combine this with spot putting and you’ll be way ahead of the game, in my experience.

Little Differences That Make a Big Difference in How Well You Play