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Driving distance only grows by one per cent

A research document published by the R&A and the USGA which includes data from seven tours has revealed that between 2003 and the end of the 2015 season, average driving distance on four of the seven tours increased about one per cent, or 0.2 yards per year while it actually decreased by one per cent on the other three tours.

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 – for instance, the 10 shortest players in that group are about 6 per cent shorter than average, while the 10 longest players in the group are about 7 per cent longer than average.

The average launch conditions on the PGA TOUR – clubhead speed, launch angle, ball speed and ball backspin – have been relatively stable since 2007. The 90th-percentile clubhead speed coupled with the average launch angle and spin rate are very close to the conditions that The R&A and the USGA, golf’s governing bodies, use to test golf balls under the Overall Distance Standard.

“I believe it is important in terms of good governance and healthy for the sport to achieve greater transparency on key issues such as driving distance,” said Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A. “We have decided to publish this report on distance data and will do so each year in the future. This is clearly a frequently debated topic in golf which elicits strong views. By publishing the data we can help to inform the debate and ensure reliable information is available.”

“Hitting distance is, and has long been, a constant subject of healthy and spirited debate in golf,” said Mike Davis, Executive Director/CEO of the USGA. “We want everyone in the game to have access to the facts, to better understand the decision-making process and the research we use to ensure that our game is both enjoyable and sustainable for future generations.”

To download a copy of the report click here and then scroll to the bottom.