Jay Monahan on distance: 'Hard to argue you should be changing anything right now'

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Jay Monahan on distance: 'Hard to argue you should be changing anything right now'

PGA Tour

Jay Monahan on distance: 'Hard to argue you should be changing anything right now'

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KAPALUA, Hawaii – PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan says he was not surprised to see another average driving distance increase on the PGA Tour from 2017-18.

Meeting with a small group of reporters in the Kapalua Golf board room Saturday morning during the Tournament of Champions, Monahan was asked if a four-yard increase in average distance on measured drives was concerning.

“Here’s the way I look at it. Players are getting younger. They’re getting more athletic,” Monahan said. “Look at those two things. Then you look at technology and data and players can optimize their swings, they can optimize their clubs, and that trend only continues in terms of the power of technology and data. You look at course conditioning and you look at weather. Those are a lot of the variables that go into it.”

Monahan said despite the year-over-year increase, driving distance and its impact on players winning relative to approach shots, putting and other areas of the game hasn’t increased.

The average distance on measured drives was 296.1 yards in 2018, up from 292.1 yards in 2017.

Last May, the USGA and R&A launched a Distance Insights project including a global online questionnaire and data-gathering exercise on distance in golf. They’re currently sorting through all the data and feedback from the project, a process which is expected to take months.

They are also expected to release their annual Distance Report in early February, though there’s no word on whether or not the governing bodies will propose regulations to decrease distance.

Monahan said the Tour will continue to monitor the findings and meet with the two groups to understand the results, but at this time he still doesn’t see a need for any regulation.

“We’re gonna be a party to all these discussions,” Monahan said. “We’re going to understand everybody’s perspectives as the USGA and R&A move forward with their Distance Insights project, but it’s hard to argue you should be changing anything right now because the sport is growing and thriving.”

Monahan also cited ideal weather in the spring of 2018 as one of the reasons for the increase.

“That data will come out,” Monahan said. “Obviously the USGA and R&A will release their distance report later this year, but I don’t think it should come as a surprise to anybody that we’re seeing (an) increase. We’ll have more to say when that comes out, but I’m not surprised by that.”

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