Golfers are rarely known for their height. When people think about them, they likely aren’t picturing the towering athletes of baseball, football, and, of course, basketball. However, this doesn’t mean golf is a short man’s game. While hardly the tallest man alive, Phil Mickelson may be taller than the average fan realizes, continuing a tradition of tall pros who go back many decades.
How tall is Phil Mickelson?
No matter how he’s built, Mickelson is undoubtedly one of the biggest names ever to grace the sport. Britannica notes how he rose to prominence in the ’90s. Mickelson wasn’t a physically imposing presence. At 6 feet, 3 inches, he’s taller than the average person he comes across. But put him in an NBA lineup, and he’d be the shortest person on the court.
Still, Mickelson made his body work. Now a healthy 200 pounds, the golfer famously struggled with his weight throughout his career. In a sport where out-of-shape men like John Daly can make a living on the green while a fitness savant like Tiger Woods experiences the decade he’s had, there’s no right way to golf success.
Mickelson’s game has faults. But his ability to work through them and consistently remain in contention shows he didn’t need to have Woods’ commitment to fitness. Mickelson is now a healthy 52-year-old man who recently won another major tournament despite his age and tenure in the sport. Perhaps his height has played a part in it. But as Golf WRX notes, it may have been as much a burden as his weight struggles of the past.
Is being tall an advantage in golf?
Rob Lindenberg studied the effects that height has on a golfer’s game. In it, he posited that while taller golfers may have some advantages when they finely tune their game, it doesn’t come without some challenges, too.
“The logical assumption, as mentioned earlier, would be that a taller player would naturally hit the ball farther than a shorter player. And that distance would then allow the taller player to outperform the smaller player every time. That contention would certainly seem to be evidenced by looking at today’s modern wonder boys,” he wrote on Golf WRX.
It’s true. Golfers such as Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, and Dustin Johnson all tower over six feet tall, and their resumes of success show that this was no fluke. However, while the height can help a player on his swing, it can also provide some unseen hindrances to his mechanics. Lindenberg’s study showed that shorter players golf longer but earn similar money.
However, Johnson and Matt Kuchar, both 6 feet, 4 inches tall, skew these results toward the taller players, and if one takes them out, short players have a more decisive advantage. None of this is scientific, but it shows how unique golf is in the sporting world. After all, players can be as tall or short or fat or thin as they want to be, and their skills still dictate where they end up.
Who is the tallest golfer of all time?
Mickelson is one of the taller competitors today, but he’s not alone. Besides Johnson, Kuchar, and other tall golfers, Golf.com notes how a new, taller competitor recently entered the mix. Towering over Mickelson, Jordan Hahn recently became the tallest person to make a PGA event. At 6 feet, 8 inches tall, Hahn has more in common with LeBron James than Mickelson, but he still got to the biggest stage.
At the end of the day, height has its advantages and disadvantages. But it’s hard to find a more inclusive sport regarding body types. Pro golfers can barely push five feet, or they can tower over others like Hahn. Mickelson made his work the same way Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Woods, Spieth, and other champions have, and that’s the beauty of the sport.
He may not be abnormally tall, but Mickelson’s build helps tell the story of a sport where almost anyone with skills can succeed, as long as they have the skills to do so.