The R&A and the USGA have published their annual review of driving distance, a research document that reports important findings on driving distance in golf.
Introduced last year, the review examines driving distance data from seven of the major professional golf tours, based on approximately 285,000 drives per year. Data from studies of male and female amateur golfers has also been included for the first time.
Key facts noted in the paper include:
- Between 2003 and the end of the 2016 season, average driving distance on five of the seven tours has increased by approximately 1.2 per cent, around 0.2 yards per year.
- For the same time period, average driving distance on the other two tours studied decreased by approximately 1.5 per cent.
- 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’ has not changed – for instance, since 2003 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 statistics are not skewed toward either longer or shorter players.
- 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.
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, 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.”
Mike Davis, Executive Director/CEO of the USGA, added, “We appreciate the collaboration we have received, industry-wide, to access and review this data to benefit the entire golf community, which can be used to both educate golfers and advance the game.”