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The Golf Ball "Problem": PGA Tour Players Hitting it Far is a Problem for All of Golf?

The Golf Ball "Problem"  

138 members have voted

  1. 1. Does the distance modern PGA Tour pros hit the ball pose a problem to golf as a whole?

    • Yes
      32
    • No
      106
  2. 2. What is the main source of the "problem" above?

    • The golf ball goes too far, primarily.
      21
    • Several factors all contribute heavily.
      18
    • I voted "No" above, and I don't think there's really a "problem" right now.
      99


510 posts in this topic Last Reply

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7 hours ago, lastings said:

This is exactly what I’m talking about. This is an internet argument at its finest.  Far from a discussion.  People just see what they want to see. And ignore everything else.

Either you are unfamiliar with how to read a chart, or you’ve chosen to see it only the way you want to see it.

This chart shows a direct correlation between driving distance and top 10 wins.

I know how to read a chart. I asked you what you thought the R2 value is. So what's your guess? Cuz in looking at the graph, it's pretty low. I listed guys who were #s 3-6 on the Driving Distance list and I doubt you've really heard of any of the four.

Distance doesn't matter nearly as much as you're implying that it does. You're the one trying to make a case, but you're completely failing to do so at all - you're using a lot of "feels like" and "seems like" and hyperbole.

So, again, what's the R2 value, in your best estimation? Yes, there's a slight direct correlation, but it's anything but strong. 0.1? 0.2?

7 hours ago, lastings said:

Dont believe me?  Look at the % of dots in the above 310 category that have over 6 wins.  Now look at the % of dots in the 300-310 category that have over 6 wins.  Now look at the % of dots in the 290-300 category that have over 6 wins.  Keep going down the line. Notice a pattern?  That is the definition of correlation.

I've not denied that it's not a "direct correlation." But I'm denying that it's a strong correlation.

7 hours ago, lastings said:

Unfortunate that had to be pointed out, though, because that was never my point.  You’d have to be a block head to not believe there is a correlation between driving distance and winning.  Guess what? Hitting the ball far helps you in golf.  Not really a big revelation there.

@lastings, c'mon. Enough with the name-calling. Nobody on my side of the discussion is saying that hitting the ball far is not a skill. In fact, the opposite is true: we are saying that hitting the ball far IS a skill.

You're the one saying that the driving distance vastly outweighs the value of hitting fairways. People, including me, have made two responses to that:

  1. That you're measuring "accuracy" poorly, and that today's long drivers may be as accurate or even more accurate than the better players of older years.
  2. That the value of being a long driver is nowhere near as strong as you're implying.

The R2 value of the chart speaks to the second. The basic math above - that you've ignored - speaks to the "accuracy" argument.

No need for anyone to be "block heads."

7 hours ago, lastings said:

All I’m suggesting is that if you plotted the same chart based on driving accuracy (as flawed of a stat as it may be), you would see little to no correlation between that and winning. But, I believe that if you plotted that chart in the 90s, the correlation would be there. I’m only trying to explore why that is. 

Why willingly use a flawed stat to plot anything?

Maybe @saevel25 can do this later. And maybe he can put the R2 values in there, too. I think you may be surprised.

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I guess this may be off topic, but what if you are the longest out there but can't Putt a lick, what good is the distance then.   Just wondering.

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47 minutes ago, joro said:

I guess this may be off topic, but what if you are the longest out there but can't Putt a lick, what good is the distance then.   Just wondering.

I’d ve winning a few million on the world long drive tour. No need to putt. ;)

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2 hours ago, iacas said:

I know how to read a chart. I asked you what you thought the R2 value is. So what's your guess? Cuz in looking at the graph, it's pretty low. I listed guys who were #s 3-6 on the Driving Distance list and I doubt you've really heard of any of the four.

Even only considering those who at least had one top 10 in the past three years, the R2 value is 0.0966. 

Screen Shot 2018-01-20 at 8.12.42 PM.png

2 hours ago, iacas said:

Why willingly use a flawed stat to plot anything?

Maybe @saevel25 can do this later. And maybe he can put the R2 values in there, too. I think you may be surprised.

Here we go, 

Plot on the left is from 2015 thru 2017. Plot on the right is 1994 thru 1996. Each have three years worth of data. Each show nearly no influence of fairways hit percentage to Top 10 finishes. I will say the only thing changes it that trend line did flip from positive to negative. The R^2 is not high at all. 

Screen Shot 2018-01-20 at 8.30.17 PM.png

My conclusion, fairways hit is overrated, even back in the mid 90s'. You could range anywhere from 62% to 77% and have the same chance of making the top 10 back in the 1990's. That is a huge range. From 2015 thru 2017 you could range from 53% to 68%. Still a wide range. 

 

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1 hour ago, saevel25 said:

Even only considering those who at least had one top 10 in the past three years, the R2 value is 0.0966. 

Screen Shot 2018-01-20 at 8.12.42 PM.png

Heck, I'd have guessed 0.2. What do you think about that, @lastings? 0.0966. That's almost no correlation at all.

1 hour ago, saevel25 said:

My conclusion, fairways hit is overrated, even back in the mid 90s'. You could range anywhere from 62% to 77% and have the same chance of making the top 10 back in the 1990's. That is a huge range. From 2015 thru 2017 you could range from 53% to 68%. Still a wide range.

As I suspected.

Thanks @saevel25.

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3 hours ago, iacas said:

Heck, I'd have guessed 0.2. What do you think about that, @lastings? 0.0966. That's almost no correlation at all.

To put some perspective to this R-squared value, for people who don't know a lot about statistics, a weak correlation will tend to have an R-squared value of its trend line of somewhere around .70, and to have a strong correlation you generally are looking for an R-squared of at least .90+ if not .95 or higher.

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Thanks for the explanation of the R2 value @Pretzel. (I'm currently taking an online course that relies heavily on statistics, but haven't gotten to this yet.)


I realize this may be off-topic, so please move it if need be.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding the information - please let me know if that's the case - but all this seems a bit contrary to what I've been led to believe about how important distance is. I get that fairways hit isn't a very good stat because hitting out of normal rough is often not that difficult. But I thought there'd be a stronger correlation between being closer to the green off the tee and lower scores/top ten finishes on the PGA.

I suppose those on the PGA who finish in the top ten without the benefit of above average distance are there because they have developed superior (better than PGA average) mid and long-iron games. Is that possible?

Anyway, I never thought the golf ball or pros hitting it farther was much of a problem and voted so in the original poll. It certainly doesn't have any impact on my game.

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10 minutes ago, JonMA1 said:

But I thought there'd be a stronger correlation between being closer to the green off the tee and lower scores/top ten finishes on the PGA.

I look at it this way. 

Lets say you have 160 yards to the pin, This is pretty typical for PGA tour payers. From the rough, they average 3.23 strokes. From the fairway they average 2.98 strokes. Obviously, when two players hit the same distance off the tee the one who hits more fairways will have a slight advantage.

Also, you have to consider that golf includes approach shots, short game and putting. 

 

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14 hours ago, phillyk said:

I’d ve winning a few million on the world long drive tour. No need to putt. ;)

Maybe you should try it.    

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31 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

I look at it this way. 

Lets say you have 160 yards to the pin, This is pretty typical for PGA tour payers. From the rough, they average 3.23 strokes. From the fairway they average 2.98 strokes. Obviously, when two players hit the same distance off the tee the one who hits more fairways will have a slight advantage.

That's a good comparison. I think in addition to the lie, being on the fairway might (on average) lead to better angles.

31 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

Also, you have to consider that golf includes approach shots, short game and putting.

I agree and thought about mentioning it in my previous post but thought it might be too far off-topic. I was just thinking in terms of the tee shots followed by full swing approaches and all else being equal.

Edited by JonMA1

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30 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

Also, you have to consider that golf includes approach shots, short game and putting.

I just thought of something else. Winners are typically those who match a great ballstriking week with above average putting. 

Top 10's are golfers who are playing above their scoring average to being with. They are scoring in the mid 60's. The best scoring averages are usually around 69. 

Obviously things are going very right for the golfer, usually in all aspects of their game. 

Looking at top 10 finishes is tough because a lot of those cases are above the golfers average playing ability. 

Maybe looking at scoring average is a better choice. 

Just now, JonMA1 said:

That's a good comparison. I think in addition to the lie, being on the fairway might (on average) lead to better angles.

Thats a tad overrate as well. Obviously some greens are very severe and angles can matter depending on the pin placement. For the most part, it's not that big of an issue. 

 

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welp..  what can I say? the numbers don't lie.   

For what it's worth @iacas, I didn't actually call anyone a name.  

 

It just seems odd.  The numbers suggest that we are watching the same game as we were 25 years ago, just 30 yards longer off the tee.   But my eyes tell me I am watching something very different.   I suppose that is just a matter of perception, though.   Today I see DJ, and Justin Thomas and other big hitters taking these huge vicious hacks with the Driver.  Whereas, in the 90's even the bigger hitters like Fred Couples, Davis Love, and Vijay appeared to have a much more controlled swing.   Only Daly seemed to be swinging the way big hitters do today, and we all know how wildly inconsistent he could be.   but, again, that is all alot of 'seems like and 'feels like' perception.  Different players, different swings.  

I do have a question as it relates to that, though.  And I honestly have no idea what the answer is.   Is the added 30 yards off the tee attributed solely to equipment and balls, or are players today generating a great deal more clubhead speed?  is this something we know?  are there even clubhead speed statistics available from the '90's?

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, lastings said:

For what it's worth @iacas, I didn't actually call anyone a name.

I know. Just as you know that you made the implication that those of us who didn't see what ultimately wasn't really there (< 0.1 R2) were "block heads" or something.

1 hour ago, lastings said:

Today I see DJ, and Justin Thomas and other big hitters taking these huge vicious hacks with the Driver.  Whereas, in the 90's even the bigger hitters like Fred Couples, Davis Love, and Vijay appeared to have a much more controlled swing.   Only Daly seemed to be swinging the way big hitters do today, and we all know how wildly inconsistent he could be.   but, again, that is all alot of 'seems like and 'feels like' perception.  Different players, different swings.

Greg Norman lashed at it pretty good. And I don't think Dustin Johnson looks like he's lashing at it.

It is your perception. If the modern players all had a pause at the top and stayed in balance on the downswing, they'd look "smoother" too.

1 hour ago, lastings said:

I do have a question as it relates to that, though.  And I honestly have no idea what the answer is.   Is the added 30 yards off the tee attributed solely to equipment and balls, or are players today generating a great deal more clubhead speed?  is this something we know?  are there even clubhead speed statistics available from the '90's?

They're generating quite a bit more clubhead speed. They've got longer, lighter, bigger drivers. They've got optimized launch conditions (at least to the point where they like what they see - for example Bill Haas willingly leaves 20 yards on the table because he doesn't like the ball to get too high in the air, he feels he loses control…).

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There is a huge difference between now and then.   By then I don't mean not 25 but 40 yrs ago in the era of Arnie and Jack when it was a totally different game played with Wood and Balata.    The courses were different and at times very fast without the modern watering system,.   There were no personal Trainers to work with us and of course no  equipment to show what specs we needed for our best game.    We just ordered the clubs to what we felt were our specs and figured out how to use them.      The best players had the talent to make it work.     Length was always a good thing and I didn't care if I was in the rough, trees, or whatever cause I was very long and alway had a shorter shot to the Green and my up and down game was very good.     Most of the Pros had club speed of around 105 to 115 and mine was a usual 110 that I could kick up to 117 if needed with a 13.5 Driver at 43.5 in.  D7 with a TT Dynamic 135 gr. X tipped 1 in. to XX,    It was a different time.     Then metal came in, SS was in, then came Titanium which was faster and now who knows what is next.   In those days I was a +4 and played a few PGA events and a couple of Majors but no desire to make it a career, but I did have the honor of playing with several of the legends and they were good, very good.

Todays players are fine tuned machines made for Golf with their trainers and with equipment fitter for them like a Grand Prix Car.      Speed and distance is the game and it all geared for that, truly a different game.    Is it better?   Us old timers think not and the young people think it is and so goes the discussion.      The fact is it is different, very different.    I know I would like to play one round while I am still around with todays equipment personally fitted for me,,,,, It would be very interesting.     

 

 

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9 hours ago, lastings said:

It just seems odd.  The numbers suggest that we are watching the same game as we were 25 years ago, just 30 yards longer off the tee.   But my eyes tell me I am watching something very different.   I suppose that is just a matter of perception, though.   Today I see DJ, and Justin Thomas and other big hitters taking these huge vicious hacks with the Driver.  Whereas, in the 90's even the bigger hitters like Fred Couples, Davis Love, and Vijay appeared to have a much more controlled swing.   Only Daly seemed to be swinging the way big hitters do today, and we all know how wildly inconsistent he could be.   but, again, that is all alot of 'seems like and 'feels like' perception.  Different players, different swings.  

So you're telling me that Arnold PalmerJack NicklausGreg Norman (note how he spins out), and Johnny Miller all look like they're swinging easy? To me it looks like guys have always been swinging hard on some tee shots and smooth for others, because you can find videos of Dustin JohnsonRory McIlroyJB Holmes, and even Tiger Woods where they look like they're swinging pretty smoothly without a lot of effort too. 

I think it's just a personal perception thing that you see because you think they must be swinging harder to hit it further. A lot of it has to do with the incredibly lightweight technology available to golfers today, meaning you don't need to swing hard to hit it far, and the increasing athleticism of today's golfers. Some golfers do, undoubtedly, pound the ball out of their shoes but the same can be said about golfers from any era. 

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15 hours ago, Pretzel said:

So you're telling me that Arnold PalmerJack NicklausGreg Norman (note how he spins out), and Johnny Miller all look like they're swinging easy? To me it looks like guys have always been swinging hard on some tee shots and smooth for others, because you can find videos of Dustin JohnsonRory McIlroyJB Holmes, and even Tiger Woods where they look like they're swinging pretty smoothly without a lot of effort too. 

I think it's just a personal perception thing that you see because you think they must be swinging harder to hit it further. A lot of it has to do with the incredibly lightweight technology available to golfers today, meaning you don't need to swing hard to hit it far, and the increasing athleticism of today's golfers. Some golfers do, undoubtedly, pound the ball out of their shoes but the same can be said about golfers from any era. 

Yup, we all swung hard because the Driver was a lot heavier in those days and you could go at it and retain balance and tempo.    Todays Drivers are so light it is hard to swing hard and stay on balance and tempo.     Todays Drivers weight around 11 oz. and a shaft at 100 is considered heavy, we also have rebound max. faces, larger heads  and the clubs are longer, i know, that can be argued, but in those days the normal Driver was 43 in, a steel shaft at 130 gr. and 13 oz with a COR of 7.5, so you see the difference.    So bottom line you had go after it to get the distance, and 260 was considered a long Dr.        Have you ever hit a Wood Driver with steel shaft?    If not you should.

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1 hour ago, joro said:

Yup, we all swung hard because the Driver was a lot heavier in those days and you could go at it and retain balance and tempo.    Todays Drivers are so light it is hard to swing hard and stay on balance and tempo.     Todays Drivers weight around 11 oz. and a shaft at 100 is considered heavy, we also have rebound max. faces, larger heads  and the clubs are longer, i know, that can be argued, but in those days the normal Driver was 43 in, a steel shaft at 130 gr. and 13 oz with a COR of 7.5, so you see the difference.    So bottom line you had go after it to get the distance, and 260 was considered a long Dr.        Have you ever hit a Wood Driver with steel shaft?    If not you should.

I have an old 1980 metal wood, and other than changing the tempo my swing speed is about the same as with the same length modern club. The 3W is like hitting a modern 2 hybrid. I can get about 200 carry with tons of roll because it has a lower and more penetrating flight. So, my 28 year old wood is more or less like a modern hybrid.

The technology is stifled by COR rules, so even though the forgiveness zones are larger the distance will remain the same as the old days.

People are just hitting harder these days, because they’re more athletic.

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10 minutes ago, Lihu said:

People are just hitting harder these days, because they’re more athletic.

This is an argument that I just can’t get behind.   I have a hard time believing that John Daly or Fred Couples are more athletic today than they were in the ‘90s, but they’re both driving the ball quite a bit further. 

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