Driving Away

Golf season has started and I have been out to the driving range a few times. A few kinks to work through but all in all, not too bad giving the lack of practice over the winter.

I was talking to a friend this morning about average driving distance. And it turns out that the pros are really making great strides in driving distance. The average player is not.

The typical amateur is still struggling with about a 200-yard standard for average drives even if he thinks and says he hits it 250. I have not come across one 15-plus handicap golfer that can hit a consistently long drive hole after hole. The PGA tour driving distance average has jumped from 260 yards in 1993 to 287 yards in 2003. Almost a 30 yard gain in a decade.

The driving distance of the PGA tour can be found here. Loren Roberts is the shortest off the tee at about 265 yards. Hank Kuehne has a 56 yard advantage in driving distance at 321 yards. Absolutely amazing.

Golf Digest schools show that typical amateurs average about 195 yards. I think I will keep a log of driving distance this season. Might be a surprising result.

The biggest reason for the largest increase in tour driving distance has been the advances in golf ball technology. When the majority of tour players switched from Titleist wound balls to Titleist’s solid-core Pro V1 in late 2000, driving distance increased by more than six yards. That more than doubled the largest one-year gain since stats were first kept in 1980.

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