USGA and Royal & Ancient say distance in golf is not an issue

The USGA and R&A recently released a study which showed that distance is totally not an issue in the sport of golf these days. Here is what it said.

The USGA and The R&A have published their annual review of driving distance, a research document that reports important findings on driving distance in golf. 

Introduced last year, the review examines driving distance data from seven of the major professional golf tours, based on approximately 285,000 drives per year. Data from studies of male and female amateur golfers has also been included for the first time. 

Key facts noted in the paper include:

Between 2003 and the end of the 2016 season, average driving distance on five of the seven tours has increased by approximately 1.2 percent, around 0.2 yards per year.

For the same time period, average driving distance on the other two tours studied decreased by approximately 1.5 percent.

Of course, nobody actually believes that distance is not an issue in today’s game. Two quick points on this. First, it seems like 2003 is a pretty convenient number that coincides with a new, more modern golf ball having already been put into play.

The second is that not all drives are created equal, which James Hahn pointed out (and Geoff Shackelford picked up on).

On the PGA Tour this year, there are 38 golfers averaging over 300 yards a pop off the tee. In 2003, the year referenced by the USGA, there were nine. In 2000, there was one (John Daly). It’s going to be difficult to convince anyone that the golf ball isn’t going farther now than it was at the turn of the century. 

Especially if you actually watch the sport.

CBS Sports Writer

Kyle Porter began his sports writing career with CBS Sports in 2012. He covers golf, writes poetry about Rory McIlroy's swing, stays ready on Tiger watch and loves the Masters more than anyone you know.... Full Bio

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