A spectrum exists in terms of driving statistics on the PGA Tour: reduce power and ensure the fairway is found or full power, hit it and go find it. A quick look at the top ten drivers on Tour in terms of both average driving distance and average driving accuracy produces some interesting data to ponder.
The stats are from PGATOUR.com
All of the players on both the distance and accuracy top ten lists had multiple top 10 finishes in 2018. And, while many players had multiple runner-up finishes, it is clear to see based on 2018 victories that the long hitters on Tour have the decided advantage.
Rory McIlroy, who was number one in driving distance in 2018, averaged 40.8 yards longer off the tee than the shortest hitter on Tour, Brian Stuard. That’s a massive disparity. On average, Rory is hitting 3 to 4 clubs less into greens than Stuard.
2018 produced primary evidence of what can happen when the course is set up to favor accuracy over power. At this year’s Ryder Cup, European coach Thomas Bjorn had Le Golf National set up with devastating roughs that penalized players greatly for missing fairways.
The result was the more consistent, (and on average) shorter hitters of the European team navigated Le Golf National with expert precision, while the Americans tried to use their brute strength to overpower the course. Europe went on to celebrate a landslide victory.
The gap between Rory and Stuard’s driving distances raises an interesting series of questions.
As far as the PGA Tour goes:
- Are the courses on the PGA Tour set up too much in favor of the big bombers?
- Do you want to see the PGA Tour do more to mitigate the long hitter’s advantage?
- Does your enjoyment of the game directly correlate to how far the top pros are hitting the ball of the tee?
- Would you like the PGA Tour to play more courses that are shorter, narrower, but require masterful accuracy?
In a personal sense:
Are these stats enough for you to throw caution to the wind and start swinging for the fences off the tee in your home games and tournaments?