Nicklas Staub, 13, regroups after growth spurt to rediscover on-course success

Nicklas Staub AJGA

Nicklas Staub, 13, regroups after growth spurt to rediscover on-course success

Junior

Nicklas Staub, 13, regroups after growth spurt to rediscover on-course success

Talk about a growth spurt.

Two years ago, Nicklas Staub was 5 feet 4 inches tall, and he hit his driver 200 yards. Now 13 years old, Staub has grown to 6 feet 2 inches and consistently drives the ball 280 yards. He went from 2 inches below standard in his iron lengths to an inch above, and his shaft flex in his woods are extra stiff compared to the senior shafts he used at age 11.

“It’s a huge difference,” Staub said. “I’ve grown a lot.”

Of course, growing that much in such a little amount of time has affected his golf game. Staub, who at 8 years old won his age division at the U.S. Kids Golf World Championships, went through a tough transition with his swing.

“He forgot the natural feel of his swing,” said his mother, Sue Staub. “He didn’t really know how to swing the club anymore.”

Some golfers could’ve quit the game at that point. Staub stayed patient and, with the help of instructor John Nelson, adjusted to his new body.

“I was having some stability problems,” Staub said. “I wasn’t very strong and I didn’t start working out until really this year. I had not much stability over the ball, and I was kind of all over the place. The ball just wasn’t going anywhere. I couldn’t generate any speed because I didn’t know how.”

Nelson, director of instruction at the Country Club of Coral Springs (Fla.), helped improve Staub’s balance by getting him off his toes. A workout regime helped make Staub more stable, as well.

The revamp of Staub’s swing to match his lengthy frame took about a year, and Staub again is enjoying success on the course. Last summer he qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur despite still battling a lack of comfort with his swing. He quickly gained confidence and followed in August with his first American Junior Golf Association victory at the Coca-Cola Junior at Sugarloaf in Maine. In June he placed sixth at the KPMG Stacy Lewis Junior All-Star Invitational in Arkansas.

Staub’s performances in AJGA events helped get him into his first AJGA invitational, the Polo Golf Junior Classic in Ringoes, N.J.

“I didn’t know how nervous I was going to be until I got to the 10th tee in the first round, my starting hole,” Staub said of the Polo. “And once they called out my name, I realized, ‘Oh, I’ve got to put a ball in the fairway.’ ”

Staub hit that drive nearly 300 yards down the middle.

His father, Peter Staub, is the director of tennis at Valencia Pointe in the Staubs’ hometown of Boynton Beach, Fla. Nicklas, however, developed a passion for golf. Peter gave Nicklas a right-handed driver when his son turned 2. Nicklas hit a ball, but he did it with the backside of the driver.

“That’s when we discovered he was left-handed,” Sue Staub said. “… The first time he went to the range, he hit balls for an hour and a half. His attention span was so long; he was reading books when he was 1. He went almost every day to the range.”

When he was 4, Staub won the first event he entered, a junior event in Orlando against kids mostly 6 and 7 years old. Even more impressive, he did it with six clubs in his bag: a driver, 3-wood, 7-iron, two wedges and a putter.

“I hit my 7-iron from almost everywhere,” Staub said.

These days, Staub’s favorite club is his 60-degree wedge – he’s a creative kid. He’s also playing bigger tournaments. Staub knows he might not hit it as far or as close as some of his older competitors, and he might not always have his best stuff. But he knows no matter what he’ll gain experience.

“It’s just a game,” Staub said. “Not all days in this strange game are going to be good days, you have to remember that. You have to set your expectations a little lower and just try to hit shots, play the course and see what happens. That’s my mentality.”

Staub expects he’ll grow a few more inches, and with perspective like that, his golf game very well could follow suit.

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