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Golf: The Best And The Rest At Driving Distance

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Stan Sutherland
Stan Sutherland

“There’s no doubt that Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day crush it, but it is interesting to note that the PGA Tour’s driving-distance average has not changed too much during the past 10 years.” That’s from David Dusek reporting on the recent USGA and R&A joint study on the effects of technology and equipment on driving distances among seven professional tours.

Only 1 percent???
My immediate reaction upon reading Dan McDonald’s, “Distance study shows drives flying 1 percent farther since 2003,” was to be honest at best, a case of there are lies, damned lies and there’s statistics. And at worst my conspiracy theory that the USGA and R&A have fudged the facts to support their defence that there’s no need to panic about the prodigious length of some players.

Just gimme the facts

David Dusek writes, “So what’s really happening? While the average driving distance on the PGA Tour has not changed too much during the past decade, the number of players who are really booming it has grown.

John Daly was the only player to average more than 300 yards per drive during the four seasons spanning 1999-2002. Then, in 2003, eight players averaged 300-plus yards, including Hank Kuehne, whose 321.4 yards is still the longest for a season. In 2005, the number rose to a record-high 26, which was equaled last season.

In addition, fewer and fewer PGA Tour players can be classified as short hitters. In 2000 there were 166 players on the PGA Tour who averaged less than 280 yards per drive. In 2002, that number was down to 100, and in 2003 it was sliced to 47. By 2005, there were only 30 players who averaged less than 280 yards per drive, and it since has dropped to 25 players.”

Long and short are still the same
Dan McDonald concludes with, “Two other main takeaways from the report show that average launch conditions on the PGA TOUR – clubhead speed, launch angle, ball speed and ball backspin – have been relatively stable since 2007, and looking at all of the players who are ranked for distance on the PGA TOUR and PGA European Tour, the amount by which players are “long” or “short” is virtually the same.”

Link to David Dusek and Dan McDonald

Quote of the Day
“We have known that the days of the bunters and plinkers contending on the PGA Tour are over for a while, and the numbers reinforce that notion.” – David Dusek


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