The great thing about golf is that there is no physical element compared to other sports (yes, I consider golf a sport).
You don't have to worry about a taller guy blocking your shot, or having an opponent easily lob a tennis ball over your head – it's simply you versus the golf course. Height has no importance out there.
That little white ball simply responds to its marching orders from the golf club at impact. At 5′ 8″ and 145 pounds I certainly don't look like an imposing physical specimen. However, when people see me launch my drives 300 yards they always ask, “how the hell did you do that at your size?”
It's always a source of pride for me to routinely hit the ball farther than guys who are much larger than me. I guess that chip on my shoulder is a remnant from my days in a bunch of other sports where size did play a role.
It's About Strength, Flexibility, Leverage and Skill…
There are plenty of things required to hit a golf ball properly. Thousands of books have been written on the topic, and the golf industry is still arguing with itself over which is the “better” way to do it.
Here's what I can tell you as a shorter guy. There are absolutely no limitations to what you can do in the game from a physical standpoint. To me, that is what always made golf so interesting. Players come in all shapes and sizes. Their swings never look the same either.
There simply is no right way to play the game, and size is certainly not a prerequisite. Two of the game's biggest stars, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler are 5′ 9″. Sure, there is a movement in professional golf for bigger athletes who have incredible strength, but for us recreational golfers that really is of no importance.
Golf is a game that can be enjoyed for life, and us modest men don't have to worry about taller guys making it harder for us.
One Thing I Would Recommend
Golfers are obsessed with clubs, and often fall victim to purchasing products straight off the shelves based on marketing claims.
I've done extensive research into how golf clubs actually work, and I would recommend to any of you who are either beginners or experienced golfers to make sure you are custom fit for clubs.
Manufacturers make equipment based on neutral specifications, which can leave shorter (or extremely tall) golfers with clubs that are not suited for your size or swing. Golf is already a challenging game, and having the wrong setup will make it even harder.
So if you can, I highly recommend working with a knowledgeable club fitter who can make sure you've got the right stuff for the course.
Now let's discuss how you can look good on the course…
Brands that Will Make You Look Sharp
If you watch pro golf, you've probably noticed that modern day golfers are looking pretty sharp.
The golf course and clubhouse have always have always demanded a certain level of dress, but performance fabric and modern, trim silhouettes have helped take things to a new level.
Here are some of the top brands for golfers who want a solid blend of functionality and style.
Many of you might be familiar with Bonobos already; they happen to have a great line of golf apparel. Where they particularly shine is pant sizing. Most golf companies are not making pants that come close to fitting guys 5'8″ and below. You're left with baggy, ill-fitting designs that make you look even shorter.
With Bonobos you get great styles and quality materials, but more importantly tons of sizing options. Most of their pants come in waist sizes as small as 28, and they don't skip any numbers.
For me, this is perfect since I run between a 30 and 31 and often I get left with pants that are either too tight or baggy. Additionally, they offer upwards of four fits for each design which include tailored, slim, athletic, and straight cuts.
Bonobos also have a great line of tops that go all the way down to extra small and offer slim options. Perfect for us!
Traditional golf sunglasses make me cringe. They make you look like a cyborg, and if you want to make any kind of fashion statement on the course you probably should steer clear of them.
Luckily I've found a few brands that are offering great sunglasses that are appropriate for golf. A couple of tips that you should look for:
- You don't want a polarized lens – it can affect your depth perception, which is really bad for golf
- The frames should be lightweight, and grip to your head nicely. The last thing you want are sunglasses that move around while you swing, or feel heavy
My favorite brand is Electric California. They are designed by a bunch of west-coast guys who wanted better sunglasses for everything they did outside. Their golf line is fantastic.
Their lens offers you a clear field of vision, protects your eyes, and most importantly their designs are really sharp. These have become my favorite pair for off and on the course.
This brand is an example of how smaller, independent companies are making great strides in golf fashion.
They have a great selection of polos, pants, and outerwear that will give you a more distinctive look on the course.
If you want a more modern look on the course, you should check out Greyson Clothiers. Their fit is great for smaller men; it is one of the few polos I have tried that doesn't feel baggy. Former number one player in the world, and fellow modest man Luke Donald is one of their ambassadors.
On top of that, they are using a high-quality fabric, and it doesn't look like your traditional golf clothes.
Jones Sports Company
This is easily one of the coolest brands I have come across. Back in the seventies, they were one of the iconic carry bags in the golf industry. After disappearing for a bit, the company has gone through a complete revival recently.
They have expanded on their traditional line of golf bags, and now have a full line of accessories as well. I have their Utility Stand Bag, and almost every time I tee it up I get asked where I got it from.
Every year when I visit the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, the Seamus Golf booth is always by far and away the coolest offering. The company offers a unique line of head covers and other golf accessories that are handmade by artisans in Oregon.
Whether its a head cover, a pouch for your valuables, or a hand-forged bottle opener – you won't find this stuff anywhere else.
Some Parting Tips
There are a few common mistakes that I see most golfers making that I consider “low-hanging fruit”. They don’t necessitate any fancy swing changes, but will require some discipline on your part.
I can promise you from experience that if you commit to these your enjoyment of the game will increase and your scores will go lower.
Stop Playing So Aggressively
Most golfers don’t know it, but they are way too aggressive on the course. I see players firing at pins, trying to thread their ball between trees, and taking all other kinds of unnecessary gambles that result in blowup holes that wreck their rounds.
Having a sound strategy on the golf course is one of the true secrets to lowering your handicap. It is more about preventing double bogeys (or worse), than making birdies and pars.
Here are two painfully simple concepts that I strongly encourage you to adopt:
- Do not take dead aim at any pin unless it is in the middle of the green.
- When you hit an errant shot into the trees or any kind of trouble – take your medicine. Get the ball back to safety rather than trying to pull off the hero shot.
For most of you reading this, if you have the discipline to do both of these on the course your scores will drop.
Practice With Purpose
Another mistake that most golfers make is that they believe showing up to the driving range alone entitles them to becoming a better golfer. Most of us have uttered the phrase, “but I was hitting it so great at the range!” after a terrible round.
The real culprit is that golfers do a very poor job of simulating a real round of golf during their practice. They fall victim to what I call “Zombie Range Sessions”, which usually involves a player hitting shot after shot with the same exact club (mostly their driver) and not stopping to think about what they are actually doing.
Here are a few things that can help improve your practice sessions:
- Randomize your club and target selection – you never get the same shot twice on the golf course, why should you do that during your range sessions?
- Challenge yourself – playing performance games is a great way to make your practice more fun and simulate the real pressure of a round of golf. Make each shot mean something!
- Have a plan – before you show up have a brief overview of what you are going to do. It could be as simple as dividing your time up into different sections of your game.
Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself
I’ll leave you with my most important advice. Golf is supposed to be fun, and many of us lose sight of that from time to time. While the game is very challenging, almost every golfer I’ve ever met has had wildly unrealistic expectations of what kind of performance they can expect on the course.
The pros make golf look very easy on TV, but the reality is that this is mostly a game of mistakes. Bad shots are going to happen, and you have to do your best to accept that and move on.
Personally, I never reached my full potential as a golfer until my expectations of myself matched up with my preparation and skill level. If you don’t have time to practice, or play much, don’t ruin the time you do get on the course by expecting too much of yourself. The beauty of this game is that there is not one right way to play it.
Golf is a leisurely pursuit for almost all of us. It’s a great way to get outside, spend time with friends, and unplug from the world. It is only a good walk spoiled if you perceive it that way!