Jack Nicklaus Golf Tip: Stay with Fundamentals, Regardless of Height

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Illustration by Jim McQueen

Old-time golf analysts used to say that Bob Jones, at 5’9″, was the ideal height for a golfer. At a couple of inches taller than that, I’ve felt that my extra height was an asset in helping me create a bigger swing arc.

You’ll see some very tall golfers going through all kinds of contortions—slouched shoulders, deep knee bends—to get themselves into what they think are effective address positions. What many don’t seem to realize is that, whatever their height, their hands probably hang at pretty much the same distance from the ground as everyone else’s, which explains why the majority of golfers are well suited to standard-length clubs.

Thus, with few exceptions, there’s little relationship between height and shaft length. Tall golfers may need their clubs to lie more upright to promote correct posture, but beyond that they should forget about compensations either in their equipment or technique. Properly mastered, the fundamentals of the game will work as well for them as for anyone else, both at address and during the swing.

The same applies to short golfers, with the possible exception that slightly longer shafts may help them achieve a bigger swing arc, and that they may need their clubs to lie a little flatter.

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