Launch angle golf: A deeper dive on Cameron Champ's numbers

Jun 18, 2017; Erin, WI, USA; Cameron Champ follows his shot from the first tee during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

Launch angle golf: A deeper dive on Cameron Champ's numbers

PGA Tour

Launch angle golf: A deeper dive on Cameron Champ's numbers

On the list of all the horrible things about “wraparound” season golf, I’d rank the inability to savor the season high up there. In the ShotLink era we have so many stats to potentially dig into and study before the season restarts—if this were a normal sport.

But the PGA Tour would dive into the shallow end of an empty pool for a buck and so we have year-round golf. Yet that didn’t stop GolfDigest.com’s Alex Myers from highlighting Cameron Champ’s incredible driving distance and clubhead speed numbers from the recently completed Web.com Tour season. Champ also continued to separate himself in his 2018-19 PGA Tour debut start at the Safeway.

What really caught my eye though was this from Myers on how Champ is essentially taking the same approach as many baseball players today, emphasizing launch over placement. The strokes-gained stat says it’s working for Champ.

Champ only hit 50 percent of his fairways (88th in the field), but still led the field in strokes gained: off-the-tee. In other words, Cameron Champ’s driver might be the most effective — and fun to watch — weapon on the PGA Tour this season.

Now whether it’s fun to see someone play bomb-and-gouge golf is very much open to debate. But the numbers don’t lie: if you can hit it that far and they don’t have Le Golf National rough, it’s the best way to attack a course.

The USGA/R&A Statement of Principles railed against this kind of thing back in 2002. Maybe one of these days they’ll read that again and decide to act.

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