USGA, R&A release report showing negligible distance gains on tours

USGA, R&A release report showing negligible distance gains on tours

PGA Tour

USGA, R&A release report showing negligible distance gains on tours

After examining approximately 285,000 drives on seven major professional golf tours, the United States Golf Association and R&A released a second joint report Wednesday that shows between 2003 and the end of the 2016 season, average driving distance increased by just 1.2 percent on five of the seven tours.

The governing bodies called this a “slow creep” of about 0.2 yards per year.

The report, which follows a similar report released last June, does not take a position or present an argument that driving distance has become a problem in professional golf. Its purpose, according to the game’s governing bodies, is to put the collected data on distance in one place and make it more transparent.

“We appreciate the collaboration we have received, industrywide, to access and review this data to benefit the entire golf community, which can be used to both educate golfers and advance the game,” said Mike Davis, executive director of the USGA.

Martin Slumbers, the R&A’s chief executive, said, “In the interests of good governance and transparency it is important that we continue to provide reliable data and facts about driving distance in golf. … Driving distance remains a topic of discussion within the game, and the review provides accurate data to help inform the debate.”

The report states that in 2016, PGA Tour players used a driver on more than 95 percent of drives on measured holes, and their average shot went 291.6 yards, up from 290.6 in 2015. On the European Tour a driver was used on more than 96 percent of measured holes, and the average shot was 287.9 yards.

According to the report, about the same percentage of players on the PGA Tour and European Tour can be considered long or short compared to their peers today compared to 2003. The 10 shortest players in 2003, as a group, are about 6 percent shorter off the tee than average, and the 10 longest hitters, as a group, are about 7 percent longer than the tour average.

The report also says:

In 2016 the average clubhead speed on the PGA Tour was 112.9 mph, with an average launch angle of 10.5 degrees and average spin of 2,544 rpm. The 90th percentile for clubhead speed was 119.3 mph. These values are very close to the test conditions for the Overall Distance Standard (launch angle of 10 degrees, backspin of 2,520 rpm and a clubhead speed of 120mph) that regulates ball distance.

The average driving distance of a sample of amateur male golfers in the UK was measured to be 213 yards in 2016. This represents an increase of 13 yards over 21 years. Driver usage has increased among these players over this timeframe, particularly for the highest handicap golfers. An equivalent average driving distance for female average golfers between 2013 and 2016 was 146 yards.

Interestingly, the report shows that for the second year in a row the average driving distance on the Ladies European Tour and the Web.com Tour went down as compared to 2015.

 

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