Twenty years ago, the top driving average (by John Daly) wasn’t even 300 yards, although it was pretty close – 299.4 yards with Tiger Woods 2nd at an average of 296.3 yards.
This season, twenty years later, a total of 53 players are averaging over 300 yards per drive…
Another stat – Tiger Woods is nearly 10 yards longer per average drive twenty years older than his age of 22 in 1998, the year after he turned pro and was out-bombing everyone but Long John.
At 42, he’s averaging 305.3 yards to his 22 year old version’s average of 296.3 – that’s nine yards longer per average drive at 42, after 4 back surgeries and a host of left knee procedures.
The stat for club head speed only goes back as far as 2007, but I found an interesting thing:
The top 10 club head speeds are virtually unchanged when you look at 2007 vs 2018, with Bubba Watson’s top average of 124.18 in 2007 nearly identical to this season’s leader of 124.53 by Keith Mitchell.
Tenth place this season is 121.03 by Trey Mullinax, just a shade higher (by 1.07 mph) than 2007’s tenth place average of 119.96 from Charles Howell III.
Yet the average driving distance for 1st & 10th this season are 319.8 & 310.8 yards, compared to 2007’s averages of 315.2 & 302.8 respectively.
You can see that today’s players are swinging around the same speed but driving distances keep going up.
Since fairways hit keep going down (25 players hit over 70% fairways in 2007, and only 9 are averaging 70% or more this season) it’s not because players are striking the ball more purely with the same speeds – it’s the opposite, where the purity of ball-striking is declining even while distances are increasing!
I haven’t seen my own yardages increase that dramatically over the years – that’s because I don’t get the latest and greatest equipment and balls to which the pros have access.
I was able to drive the ball over 300 yards in the 90’s even when I didn’t know what I was doing swing-wise, through athletic ability.
Now, with much better technique but usually with much older equipment than the current players have (my current go-to driver is the old Ben Hogan CS3, which is much heavier and slower to swing than this year’s latest drivers), I’m still driving the ball pretty far but I haven’t seen my distances explode as they have on the pro Tours.
But hey, I am still able to generate over 180 mph in ball speed with that old driver and battered range balls when I’m in swing shape, as I showed last summer with that old Ben Hogan CS3 stick:
And hey, don’t forget the round of golf I played last autumn, only my 2nd time out on the course all year, when I reached the green-side bunker of a 600 yard par 5 hole with that Ben Hogan CS3 driver and a vintage persimmon 4-wood from the Jack Nicklaus era:
I’m not bringing myself up to boast, but to show what a non-tournament-playing, out of shape and late-40s man does with out-dated equipment and a mechanically-correct swing action that doesn’t rely on super-high-tech to get the ball out there.
I use technique. I don’t need all the new-fangled equipment to just drive a ball 300 yards, now or 20 years ago.
So, all I’m thinking is this, when it comes to equipment:
If they slowed the ball down in professional tennis when service speeds made a mockery of the thought of “rallies” in the game, and if college and and high school baseball players use aluminium bats but the pro have to still use wooden bats…
Why are professional golfers getting to use equipment that is designed to make the game easier to play for the average golfer?
I mean, the modern clubs and balls are little better than bikes with training wheels on them.
So why are the top players using these crutches to play the game?
Why are the top players in the world not made to use equipment that would identify the more skilled players who can actually find the center of the club face and strike the ball well enough to keep it in play?
If weekend or lower-skilled players want to use a low-spin ball and a shoe-box-sized club head to enjoy playing the game at their lower level, then more power to them – but why are the best players in the world using this equipment as well?
This actually has something to do with my area of focus – on swing mechanics.
Think about it – I would drive the ball much, much longer than I currently do if you gave me brand-new clubs and the highest-tech balls equal to what they use on the PGA Tour, because I’d have a higher speed with the lighter clubs and the balls would obviously go further than lower-tech balls do.
Not only that, swing speeds in the Top 10 over 11 years are about the same – to me, that says today’s players who are literally jumping out of their shoes today are swinging no faster than players were swinging 11 years ago with heavier equipment.
And the injuries are still piling up.
Now, imagine giving today’s players the heavier and smaller-headed clubs of yesteryear (and the shorter-flying balls), and imagine how many would end up in the treatment trailer after their first range session.
Just my thought for the day…
Back Pain or Back Injury Swinging a Golf Club?
Lacking Power, Speed, Distance and or Consistency?
Need A Swing That Is More Easily Maintained?
If You Answered “Yes” To Any Of The Above Questions, The Answer Is In The Formula For The Golf Swing: