Global Edition

Driving Report Reveals Diminishing Distance Gains

2.09pm 29th January 2019 - Management Topics

The R&A and the USGA have released the 2018 Annual Driving Distance Report, containing driving-distance data from seven men’s and women’s professional golf tours around the world.

This is the fourth annual distance report issued by the game’s governing bodies, completed in an effort to monitor current trends in driving distance.

The 2018 data show that driving distances on these seven tours increased by an average of 1.7 yards, beyond the previous year’s gain of more than 3 yards.

The full report, which can be found via this link, summarises data provided by the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, PGA European Tour, Ladies’ European Tour, Japan Golf Tour, Tour and PGA Tour Champions, based on available data at the time of publication. Introduced in 2015, the report includes data starting with the 1968 PGA Tour season.

The average driving distance is typically measured on two holes at each tournament and usually results in nearly 40,000 shots being measured over the course of a season on some tours.

A comparison of these major professional tours, both men’s and women’s, indicates that the average driving distance on the men’s tours has increased by approximately 2.9% since 2003 until the end of the 2018 season with a more modest average increase of 0.9% being observed on the women’s tours.

The largest overall increase in driving distance has taken place on the Tour, which was more than 12 yards longer in 2018 than it was in 2003. The average driving distance on each of the men’s tours monitored was longer than at the end of any previous season for the second season in succession.

The average driving distance of the longest (and shortest) players on the European and PGA tours closely tracks the respective tour average driving distances, including the season-to-season fluctuations. When viewed as percentages, there is good consistency both between tours and seasons.

The longest 10 players tend to be about 7% longer than the tour average, whereas the shortest 10 players tend to be about S-8% shorter than the tour average.

In 2018, the average clubhead speed was 113.7 mph. with an average launch angle of 11.1 degrees and average spin of 2,641rpm. The 90th percentile for clubhead speed was 119.7 mph. These values are very close to the test condit ions for the Overall Distance Standard – launch angle of 10°, backspin of 2,520 rpm and a clubhead speed of 120mph – which regulates ball distance.

The average driving distance of a sample of amateur male golfers in the UK was measured to be 215 yards in 2018. This represents an increase of 15 yards over 23 years. Driver usage has increased amongst these players over this timeframe, particularly for the highest handicap golfers. An equivalent average driving distance for female golfers between 2013 and 2018 was an average of 148 yards.

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