Home' Australian Golf Digest : May 2018 Contents 58 australiangolfdigest.com.au | may 2018
The report says driving distance on the US
PGA Tour is 292 yards, but every time I look
at the TV guys are blasting it well beyond
300. What gives? Remember, television is
often showing the leaders, or put another way,
players who are on their game that week. What
they’re not showing you is Gavin Green and
his 279-yard average in Mexico that evens out
those prodigious blasts on the stat sheet.
Fair enough, but the 400-yard tee shot
seems to be hit with alarming regularity.
That would seem concerning. It absolutely
is something to keep an eye on. Through the
2014 WGC–Cadillac Championship (now
WGC–Mexico Championship) there were
zero 400 yards drives. In 2015 there were 11. In
2016 there were four and last year there were
nine. This year there are 80. Forget the fact
69 that were hit at the Sentry Tournament of
Champions at Kapalua. That’s a pretty big leap.
The R&A and USGA talk about
sustainability of courses. Are courses
really being lengthened to a great degree?
Do they need to be? We’re all for saving the
earth and there seems to be some anecdotal
evidence regarding the lengthening of
everyday courses, but no real data as to
whether this is an issue at the everyday player
level. But here’s a thought: have the USGA
provide data from its GHIN handicap system
breaking out the number of scores posted
from every 100 yards from 5,000 to 7,500
yards. That would give us a feel for where
people are playing from and whether courses
are being lengthened out of need or ego. Water
and resource conservation is a real issue and
most golf-course superintendents have made
tremendous strides in this area in the past
decade, but we need more data to determine
whether or not golf ’s environmental footprint
needs substantial shrinking.
I really like watching pro golf at the classic
courses. Are they really in danger of
becoming obsolete? We dig it, too, but here’s
the thing: did you watch this year’s AT&T
Pebble Beach Pro-Am? On three courses all
measuring less than 7,000 yards and in perfect
weather no one tore it up and the winner, Ted
Potter Jnr, won with shot-making and putting,
not pure strength. Most of the “classic”
courses on tour such as Pebble, Harbour
Town, Riviera and Colonial, tend to hold their
own, often ranking in the middle of the pack
or better in resistance to scoring. Last season
five courses on the US PGA Tour were shorter
than 7,000 yards. Excluding Majors, eight
were longer than 7,500 yards. The difference
in weighted scoring average was 15 one-
hundredths of a stroke.
One of the joys of golf is that I can hit
shots the pros hit. Isn’t that going away
as they get so incredibly long off the tee?
We don’t know, does it? Fact is you probably
never came close to hitting it as far as them
anyway. But that doesn’t mean the game isn’t
relatable. You can relate when knocking an
iron shot close, spinning a bunker shot to
within a foot or jarring a curling 25-footer.
Those are all things we all can do. Besides,
if you want to relate to distance off the
tee, compare yourself to Lexi Thompson
(although she probably blows it by you, too).
Deep down most people want to watch that
which they cannot do on their own. It’s why
people watch the AFL or Twenty20 cricket.
Or John Daly.
QUESTION OF THE MONTH: What
weighting/ratio do you give each of
the below five factors when it comes
to explaining the rise in the distance
modern tour players hit the golf ball?
50% clubs, 40% balls. Split the rest up
however you like.
Fitness, coaching ... then daylight. Then
more daylight. Then balls, clubs etc...
Jessie Owens was the fastest man in 1936,
Usain Bolt would do him by 20. The same
thing happens in every sport. No one is
saying the old players weren't as good, but
comparing eras is nigh impossible due to
the advancements in how we train, eat,
Adam Paul Mitchell
Most important is technique, followed
by the clubs, course conditions, balls
As a hacker, 1. Clubs (my new Taylors
gave me a extra 10-20 metres a club from
my old Brosnons), 2. Balls an additional 5
metres a hit, when I hit a sweet shot with
shiny Callaways. 3. Tech/watching tips on
YouTube has taken 3 to 4 strokes off my
rounds. 4. Fitness – Eat big, lift big, Hit
Huge! 5. Agronomy, doesn't matter what
the quality of the course. Play often and
love the game!
WHAT YOU THINK...
IS THE GOLF BALL THE MAIN REASON TODAY'S
PLAYERS ARE HITTING IT SO FAR?
054-057_AGD0518_Distance FAQ.indd 58
12/4/18 11:43 am
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