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USGA/R&A study on driving distance

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http://www.golfdigest.com/story/new-usga-randa-study-finds-unremarkable-increases-in-driving-distance-on-pro-tours

It looks like driving distance hasn't increases substantially over the past 13 years. 

Quote

In today’s study of data from the PGA Tour, Web.com Tour, European PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions, driving distance since 2003 increased approximately 1 percent, while on the LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour, and Japan PGA Tour, it decreased by about the same amount. 

 

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That's actually a pretty informative study.  They have graphs with overlays showing the different technological advancement eras, and you can see the corresponding trend improvement that goes along with it.  Without having taken the time to go through the study completely, it seems like the takeaway is supposed to be that regulation on equipment and resulted in more consistent performance in terms of distance.

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Interesting read, thanks for posting it... It's a shame I can't believe all the Golf Channel commercials about how all these new clubs, balls, and grips are the longest most greatest equipment of all time.

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The general conclusion of this research is that from 2003 - 2015 driving distance has increased only 3.6 yards on the PGA Tour and 5.4 yards on Web.com despite all of the "technology advancements" the manufacturers have claimed to make.  

The report also contradicts much of what Jack has stated regarding distance gains on the Tour and it's impact on older golf courses.  I don't see much justification in the report to support Jack's movement to roll back the golf ball so older courses don't have to lengthen their overall course length.  

3.6 yards over 12 years is really minimal when you consider that number represents the combined effect of new club and ball technology plus an increased emphasis on physical fitness by players on the Tour.   

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On 6/2/2016 at 2:25 PM, iacas said:

I believe this is fair use to take a few snippets of interesting graphs. For a full read, see the link. Tons more good graphs and text to flush it out.

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 7.40.57 PM.png

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 6.26.30 PM.png

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 6.26.42 PM.png

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 6.33.58 PM.png

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 7.37.54 PM.png

 

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2 hours ago, newtogolf said:

3.6 yards over 12 years is really minimal when you consider that number represents the combined effect of new club and ball technology plus an increased emphasis on physical fitness by players on the Tour.  

As well as knowledge from launch monitors on how to hit the ball farther.

And look at the clubhead speeds in this chart: 1 MPH is 2.5 yards or so. Between that 0.8 MPH or so and the reduced spin, you basically have your 3.6 yards.

1 hour ago, RandallT said:

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 7.37.54 PM.png

 

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5 minutes ago, iacas said:

As well as knowledge from launch monitors on how to hit the ball farther.

And look at the clubhead speeds in this chart: 1 MPH is 2.5 yards or so. Between that 0.8 MPH or so and the reduced spin, you basically have your 3.6 yards.

I'm curious if these numbers were as eye opening to you being a golf professional as they were to me.  I often looked at the stats on the PGA Tour site and noticed the numbers overall didn't look significantly different but to see this analysis really reinforces the point.  

I had read that analysis was done on MLB pitches which concluded the max speed a pitcher could throw is about 110 mph due to the strength of tendons and ligaments in their arm.  

I wonder if professional golfers are pushing close to physical limitations for club head speed and distance with the currently approved equipment?  

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9 minutes ago, newtogolf said:

I'm curious if these numbers were as eye opening to you being a golf professional as they were to me.  I often looked at the stats on the PGA Tour site and noticed the numbers overall didn't look significantly different but to see this analysis really reinforces the point.

No. I've been fighting the "roll back the ball" types for years. :-) The numbers weren't surprising.

9 minutes ago, newtogolf said:

I wonder if professional golfers are pushing close to physical limitations for club head speed and distance with the currently approved equipment?  

Well, wouldn't long drivers kind of put a dent in that theory? If anyone's reaching the limits of what's possible, it'd be them, right?

(But of course they have to get only one ball on a 40-yard-wide grid. But as far as just distance, they'd be the model.)

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15 minutes ago, iacas said:

Well, wouldn't long drivers kind of put a dent in that theory? If anyone's reaching the limits of what's possible, it'd be them, right?

(But of course they have to get only one ball on a 40-yard-wide grid. But as far as just distance, they'd be the model.)

I didn't think the drivers used in long driving competitions conform to USGA regulations, that's what I meant by currently approved equipment.  

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3 minutes ago, newtogolf said:

I didn't think the drivers used in long driving competitions conform to USGA regulations, that's what I meant by currently approved equipment.  

They have to. They do.

https://www.longdrivers.com/wldc/official-rules

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In all honesty, I think that the improvements in technology have a much higher impact on us amateurs than it does on the pros. They already were getting the most out of their equipment whereas we need these improvements in forgiveness to get increased distance over a larger area on the club face. That's not to say that the pros don't also benefit from the added forgiveness, but they aren't getting much, if any, increased distance from pured strikes. Those have been maxed out for quite awhile now. 

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12 minutes ago, Jeremie Boop said:

In all honesty, I think that the improvements in technology have a much higher impact on us amateurs than it does on the pros. They already were getting the most out of their equipment whereas we need these improvements in forgiveness to get increased distance over a larger area on the club face. That's not to say that the pros don't also benefit from the added forgiveness, but they aren't getting much, if any, increased distance from pured strikes. Those have been maxed out for quite awhile now. 

I'd almost buy that, but the manufacturers use Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and others to tout how much longer their new driver is over their previous version.  With every new model of TM club they practically claim an additional 10 yards when the reality is in 12 years they haven't gained more than 3.6 on average.  

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Did they take a look under the hood at fairway woods too?

I think that at least some of the commentary arises because not all courses have been able to 'catch up' with the drive gains made in the 90's and early 2000's even with the time they've had. So many holes still often appear relatively 'defenseless', prompting the comments.

2 hours ago, RandallT said:

I believe this is fair use to take a few snippets of interesting graphs. For a full read, see the link. Tons more good graphs and text to flush it out.

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 6.33.58 PM.png

 

Do they show this one for different years from 90s to now? I'd be curious if the shape and tail location for the distribution has shifted at all 2003 to now.

Edited by natureboy

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8 minutes ago, natureboy said:

Did they take a look under the hood at fairway woods too?

I think that at least some of the commentary arises because not all courses have been able to 'catch up' with the drive gains made in the 90's and early 2000's even with the time they've had. So many holes still often appear relatively 'defenseless', prompting the comments.

Jack was still playing professional golf in 2005 and I don't recall him complaining about the courses being too short then but maybe he did.  

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37 minutes ago, newtogolf said:

Jack was still playing professional golf in 2005 and I don't recall him complaining about the courses being too short then but maybe he did.  

For competition or exhibition? Did he get an invite due to world ranking or past champion status? How old was he? Long game erodes with age.

Also, I think he'd be much more likely to voice his opinion his post playing years so as not to upset tournament hosts and sponsors.

Edited by natureboy

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I was recently told that the most up to date drivers only project the ball 10 yards further than the old wooden headed woods. I don't know if this is true, but it does sound plausible. I think it's more about getting eqipment that suits you, rather than spending a fortune on the latest  kit. I have a couple of very cheap Dunlop Hybrids, and I would put them up against anything else I have tried. I swapped an R15 for a 7 year old TM Burner because I hit the ball further and straighter with it. I know people that put brilliantly with putters that cost next to nothing. My guess is that even the 1% extra distance now acheived is probably more down to fitness levels than equipment.

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6 hours ago, paininthenuts said:

I was recently told that the most up to date drivers only project the ball 10 yards further than the old wooden headed woods. I don't know if this is true, but it does sound plausible. I think it's more about getting eqipment that suits you, rather than spending a fortune on the latest  kit. I have a couple of very cheap Dunlop Hybrids, and I would put them up against anything else I have tried. I swapped an R15 for a 7 year old TM Burner because I hit the ball further and straighter with it. I know people that put brilliantly with putters that cost next to nothing. My guess is that even the 1% extra distance now acheived is probably more down to fitness levels than equipment.

The flight and carry are also very different with new drivers than old ones.

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