Do you remember Nike’s Chicks dig the long ball commercial circa 1999 with Tom Glavine Greg Maddux? Well, what was true then is just as true now.
Golf equipment OEMs have been selling us distance as long as beer companies have been selling us sex. And we buy every last bit of it.
A couple of more yards here and bikini-clad co-ed swooshing down the slopes there. But are we really hitting the ball any farther? Yes, and perhaps no. But pretty much “no.” At least that’s what recent data provided by Arccos seems to suggest.
A quick refresher. Arccos is an automatic golf performance tracking system that leverages A.I. technologies to produce individualized analysis. The information provided in the following charts and graphs comes from its database of over 26 million shots.
NOT TOO DISTANT PAST
If we flashback to early February, the daily chatter largely focused on the recently released USGA and R&A distance report. The preliminary findings suggested that the ball was going too far, particularly for elite golfers (professionals and competitive amateurs). The report also states that driving distances for non-elite (recreational) golfers have increased over the previous 100 years. Additionally, the USGA and R&A stopped short of offering any conclusions or action steps but did say it would request feedback to help narrow the focus and determine exactly what questions it should work to answer.
It’s a report that tells us there’s going to be another report. At some point. So there’s that.
Because at least 99% of us are recreational golfers, it’s surprising how little of our data the USGA and R&A used in the report. In fact, from what MyGolfSpy understands, the USGA made little, if any, effort to collaborate with Arccos or other notable golf performance tracking companies. Make of that what you will.
In the charts below, we’ve provided both Average and Median distances. We know golfers understand averages, but the Median values are useful as well, in part, because they’re more resilient to outliers.
Arccos Driving Distance Study – All Drives
The first two graphs are simple and straightforward. Both the mean and median average distance has decreased slightly over the last three years. Specifically, the mean decreased by 2.6 yards and the median by 3 yards. There could be any number of reasons for this though the drop isn’t precipitous. We’re talking a moving average of 1-2 yards per year. Given the variations in weather, course conditions and the fact we’re dealing with humans, the safest conclusion is that amateur driving distances certainly aren’t increasing. If anything, the trend is marginally down.
As a side note, Arccos states that its users experience an average drop in HCP of 4.2 after using its platform the first year. So, if longer drives aren’t leading to lower scores, what is?
Arccos Driving Distance Study – By Gender
In separating the data by gender, the numbers remain relatively consistent. Consistently flat, that is. Arccos’ male userbases haven’t crossed the 230-yard threshold, and as a group, have actually lost 3 yards.
The average driving distances for women haven’t moved much either staying between 167-168 yards. Even if we only take the single largest number (regardless of mean or median) and round up, men haven’t averaged more than 229 yards while women hover below 169 yards. It’s hard to imagine these players are making any courses obsolete or forcing courses to build taller driving range fences.
Arccos Driving Distance Study – By Age
It’s no surprise that the longest hitters are in their 20s. As a group, players averaged almost 242 yards in 2017. In general, golfers in the 10-19 year-old bracket are as long as those in their 30s. From there, it’s pretty much downhill. For every decade older a player gets, he or she loses between 7 and 9 yards. Once you hit your 60s, the number jumps to between 12 and 17 yards. It adds up to a +/- 200 yards decrease over 18 holes, which may not be enough to justify moving up a set of tees.
The median distance by age skews slightly longer as expected, though the age brackets with the longest and shortest drives are unchanged. The average golfer in his/her twenties is roughly 50 yards longer than the typical 70+ year-old player. This isn’t because the 20-29 cohort is sneaking up on Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson or Cam Champ. It’s the normal and expected result as age often corresponds to swing speed, strength, flexibility, and overall athleticism.
Arccos Driving Distance Study – By Handicap
Do better golfers hit it farther? Yes. But not by nearly as much as you probably think. Starting with the highest-handicap players (21-25) it takes roughly 10 yards to jump up a category. However, it takes about 13 yards to go from a single-digit (6-10) to a low-single digit (0-5). The correlation between driving distance and overall score isn’t a surprise. However, if asked to wager a guess on the average driving distance of a 0-5 handicap, I would have taken the over, all the way up to 249 yards.
It seems fair to request that before reaching any conclusions, there should be a holistic and accurate body of evidence regarding amateur driving distance. Because, if (but more likely when) the ruling bodies institute some level of change it will likely impact all golfers. The USGA hasn’t wavered from a “one set of rules” stance and there’s no indication it’s willing to move off this stance.
But, at this point, we don’t have a clear and consistent picture of how far non-elite players are hitting the ball. Arccos’ numbers suggest a slight downward trend, while the USGA and R&A believe that “it is time to break the cycle of increasingly longer hitting distances.”
Certainly, both sets of data have some shortcomings. We know there isn’t a 100% overlap between non-elite golfers and golfers who use Arccos so that data isn’t reflected in the charts. Also, beyond age, gender, and handicap, we don’t have specific demographic information that could help us better understand who is using Arccos. More worrisome, however, is the data used by the USGA and R&A. Swiss cheese might have fewer holes.
For male golfers, the R&A gathered data from the same six courses from 1996-2018. However, it didn’t use laser technology to determine precise distances until 2006. For females, it studied distance on a single course from 2013-2018. Over the respective time frames, the R&A assessed approximately 2000 shots/year for males and 377 shots/year for females. Based on this study, it determined that from 1996-2018 males gained 15 yards in average driving distance. Due to insufficient data, it couldn’t make any definitive claims regarding female golfers.
To corroborate its findings of European amateurs, the report references a study of American amateur golfers based on the World Amateur Handicap Championship. The study tabulated drives from the same course in Myrtle Beach, SC during the event in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011. The total number of shots recorded? 3850.
At best, it’s a muddy picture. At worst, it’s a muddy picture with severely limited information. But, there’s hope. Right? I’m certain once the USGA determines more exact areas to investigate, there will be a prolonged period for public commentary. Hopefully, there will be a clear admission that unless you’re teeing up Big Bertha at the local Pirate’s Cove mini-golf, amateurs aren’t taking any course down a path to obsolescence.
Beyond that, what are your hypotheses as to why the numbers are flat to slightly down regardless of age, gender or handicap?
If we extend this data and feel it’s representative of the non-elite group of players, do you believe the ruling bodies should:
- Opt for bifurcation (different sets of rules for elite and non-elite golfers) or
- Maintain a single set of rules for all golfers while working to restrict distance primarily at the elite level.
- Do nothing and work within the current limits of ball and equipment specifications.
Please share your thoughts and questions.
*This content is backed by the MyGolfSpy Integrity in Advertising Promise.
Dave H.3 years ago
A few comments……
1. This debate is so lame. If they’re going to de-juice the ball, do it for the pros and leave the rest of us alone. This game is hard enough and you will see people stop playing if technology does not make them longer (especially as they age). The industry could easily suffer with fewer rounds played and less equipment being bought. And even if they do this for the pros, I recently saw a YouTube video by Dean Snell pointing out that the shorter hitters (Spieth, Zach Johnson) would be particularly hurt.
2. Driving distance is not the sole determiner of your index. I’ve played with guys that can “carry” the ball 290-300 (50 yards longer than a good drive for me “with” roll) but can’t chip/put to save their life. I recall shooting a better score.Go figure.
3. Lastly, this idea of the same rules for everyone makes sense for most things, such as no practice swings in the sand, but taking away technology when the stats show rec players are not hitting it longer is just asinine. What would happen if the PGA Tour and OEMs just ignored the USGA/R&A rules? Those two bodies need the pros more than the reverse.
Andrew Singleton3 years ago
It’s interesting to read the comments about the setup for professional tournaments with everything seemingly done to assist the players. In my club championships they make the course harder for that weekend – slightly narrower fairways with a section of semi rough next to slightly deeper rough, and the greens cut a little faster. Tees as far back as they could go and only two pins in the center of greens
Only three players shot under handicap over two rounds last year, compared to the usual -6 and -5 winning scores for single round monthly medals. No changes to balls or equipment were required to achieve this.
GLenn3 years ago
I’d like to see how many people /drives were measured each year and, if possible, track only those people who used arccos for all 3 years. My suspicion is that the early adopters are the more avid/better golfers. As more golfers joined, more of the less avid golfers were included. The decline could merely be the result of the quality of golfer being diluted over time from a few elite of early joiners to a more overage cross-section of regular golfers (liek me),
EPETE3 years ago
Came here to say this, and found it quickly. This is exactly my thought too. Would love to know the volume of golfers included here across the years and averages across the same group of golfers over time not a total data base.
HAC3 years ago
I have a general question about the usefulness of Arccos. When it tells someone what club they should use when going for the green, are they giving you a club recommendation based on your solid shots or based on your average shot., including thin hits, fat hits, hooks, slices, etc. If the latter, for all but the really good players, is it really useful to get a club recommendation where my solid shots go flying over the green because my “average” shot would include poor shots? Does anyone take into account tops, for example, when picking a club to hit to a green?
HardcoreLooper3 years ago
Arccos (and ShotScope) both have outlier detection that remove tops, shanks, and other mishaps that would significantly impact your average. So you have an average that’s useful for club selection.
Erik3 years ago
I’m not all that surprised by the data, as it seems like it would be spot on. I’ve never used Arccos, but I do own a ShotScope and I would imagine the two are virtually identical. ShotScope has 2 versions of “averages” in your profile, a true average, and a “players” average. The true average, which I believe is the data Arccos is presenting here, counts each and every shot. All the tops, slices, chunks, tree hitters, and bombs. If you hit one drive 300 and another 150 into the woods, your average is 225 -(450/2). I believe that’s what this is showing, total distance from GPS marked tee box to your ball. The “players” average is what ShotScope recommends the user go off of when determining distances. It uses an algorithm to remove outliers, such as that shot into the woods, to give a better representation of a players “normal.” It would be interesting to see that data side by side as there should be a huge variation between the two, with the true measurement somewhere in between. In all, bifurcation is the way to go. A standard ball perhaps for Tour players? Along with some course changes mentioned above. The sport is already bifurcated without people wanting to admit it. None of us, sans a few with Tour van access, are truly playing the same equipment as the pros. Have you looked at the amount of conforming balls?! They’re not the ball coming off the shelf, except it seems maybe Bridgestone. I played minor and semi-pro hockey and still use my custom spec skates and sticks to play adult league (Beer League). Off the rack equipment is VASTLY different than Pro-Stock. We don’t play by the exact same rules as the pros, nor should we. Golf should be the same. You can still envision yourself hitting that flighted 8 iron to 2ft just like Tiger at the Master’s, just with some equipment to make it easier. Much like I can pretend I’m Sidney Crosby on a breakaway, only I’m not going to get crushed after and can still go to work the next day!
Micah3 years ago
1) Remember trees? I do: seems to me you could control pro club selection by making misses more penal: but who wants that? There’s no more similarities between us and professionals golfers than pro basketball players and dudes at your local rec center. I don’t watch pga golf to watch the best in the world struggle to make par…
2) I’m 38, started playing 5years ago, and am currently a 6.6 handicap. Distance might be king, but for me, long is wrong! I averaged 4-6 penalty stokes a round from driving the ball out of bounds. I went from a 14 down to 6.6 by not hitting the driver unless the fairway could my two-way miss.
3) my average drive carries 274 yards: I don’t know anyone in my age group within 8 strokes of my handicap that doesn’t hit it 250.
Jason Phelps3 years ago
Love these types of articles! Thank you MGS. This seems way more realistic data than the USGA report.
It makes me agree even more with the speculation of the MGS podcast in reply to the USGA distance report. I’ve always wondered why I cannot produce 25+yds of roll out off drives! I know my spin and club head speed down smell elite players levels!
Nevertheless, I wonder what the data would be for amateurs if we all played fairways as low as the PGA. Maybe the distances would be up a few yards? I do feel like Pros are more human after an overnight of heavy rain and no rollouts in the fairway.
dr. bloor3 years ago
Confession: I haven’t scrolled through the comments.
But unless you can include some data about standard deviations in here, you”re almost certainly talking about (a) random error, and/or (b) miniscule effect sizes.
Mike3 years ago
First I think the Arccs data is skewed towards the more serious player as the casual player is not likely to utilize the system. That said I believe it is true that for the mid handicap and up especially the ball does not travel too far. As a fan it is a little wrong to see driver/5 iron or less on a par 5 For example the two par 5’s on the back nine at Augusta are easily reachable by nearly all of the Masters field. The “momentous” decision is gone. Yet how can you get anyone to produce a limited distance ball just for the elite male game? I played with the old wound balata balls and enjoyed the game. Of course we knew no better back then. Just make the ball travel less. Us amateurs can just move up a tee.. I know I have a minority opinion but that is what I feel is right.
Deadeye3 years ago
There is distance and there is distance with control. Tour players don’t always have great control but when they hit from rough or trees they are way better than any amateur at these recovery shots. Superior ball striking can overcome pure distance. Cameron Champ? Low handicap players are so because of striking the ball closer to the “sweet spot “. If amateur players want increased distance they can do so by taking lessons, getting their clubs fit thus improving the strike. If only increased distance were a solution for amateurs try playing from the forward tees or placing your ball ten yards farther out then your average and see what happens to your scores. Most likely they will stay the same or improve by one or two shots. This is just food for thought and won’t resolve anything. I have zero confidence in the USGA to solve anything. Witness their recent change in handicap calculation. After 53 years of playing golf my handicap has moved from 14 to 20. My lowest score ever is 80 from 6750 yards. Still the Greatest Game.
Mike3 years ago
Other than the men’s pro tour, how/why is this distance thing such an issue? Oh, that’s right, the idiots at the USGA have told us it is. Hah, the biggest bunch of morons since the Watergate burglars. Over the past 15 years they’ve stood by idly with their thumb up their butt as all these club & ball advances were being made. Now they’re shocked, shocked to see the pros hitting the ball so far! Just watch how every year they somehow manage to screw up the US Open. Sure, you can make the fairways less runny and have a little more rough, but what about a pot bunker here and there around 320 out? Force people to lay up or really gamble and try to carry (few realistically can). Let the pros play and let the scores fall where they may. I don’t enjoy watching the best of their craft “fighting” to make par on every hole.
wbn3 years ago
Leave it alone. Keep it one game with the existing equipment. Recreational and weekend golfers know the difference between themselves and the elite. We don’t go out and expect to shoot 5-8 under par each round. If the distance issue is such a big deal then make the tour courses a little harder. We amateurs have enough challenges without taking away what distance we have. Keep up the articles about distance and changes.
Alan3 years ago
Grow the rough, soften and narrow the fairways, tighten the courses, speed up the greens and leave the equipment alone..
Bill3 years ago
Jason3 years ago
Narrow the fairways for sure, but if you want to make the pro game more about decisions and skill, the fairways need to get much harder, not softer. Soft American courses beg to be overpowered, it’s not hard to hit a fairway if it’s all carry. Hard fast fairways (Royal Melbourne) make driver very risky, as there’s not much control to be had on a ball running along the ground. Suddenly 3 wood or even an iron makes more sense. Good golf tournaments are played on firm courses with fast greens where angle of attack and ball control are king, not distance.
JLS3 years ago
Everything said here is spot on! Unfortunately, turf/soil conditions don’t always allow for firm and fast. There’s a reason courses like Royal Melbourne in the Sand Belt play that way (Sand).
JLS3 years ago
Aside from maybe narrowing the fairways, all of these ideas are not great. As pointed out below soft fairways beg for bombers to eat them alive. Remember JT at Medinah? When the ball lands soft in the fairway you can just bomb it, all carry and they’re still hitting it 300 yards +. When fairways are firm and you have to worry about the ball rolling out, you have to shape the ball to keep it in the fairway. Deeper rough, the PGA tour events wont allow it after too many injuries. It’s similar to how each of the venues are required to use the same sand in their bunkers. It’s how the PGA tour players want it set up and remember the PGA tour is a “member run” organization. Greens on Tour are all ready fast and speeding them up further would just limit the number of possible pin locations on the green.
I don’t think you can put the toothpaste back in the tube but they need to take action to ensure that the distance issue doesn’t become even greater. Cameron Champ isn”t an anomaly, more and more guys coming through the NCAA are playing golf the same way.
The only organization that has the ability to really “roll the ball back” is Augusta National. They could easily say, “Congratulations, your invited to Augusta but you have to play our tournament ball”. No one is turning down that invite for any reason. If ANGC did that it would open the door for the the USGA and R&A to follow suit.
Bandit Baker3 years ago
So to hit my drives further all I need to do is lose 40 years, Eurika!!!!!!!!
Jack3 years ago
Dialing back the ball would be like taking home runs out of baseball. TV fans would be bored and distracted. Like many others here, I agree if you give tour pros the same soft fairways (make them narrower too) and unkempt rough that so many amateurs regularly play — problem solved. I can’t believe the favorable course conditions that I see at many PGA Tour events. Too much roll and non-existent rough.
THOMAS3 years ago
I don’t see the tour long ball hitters dominating the tour. MIckelson driving further 215+ not making the. Dustin Johnson finishing in the middle, Gary Woodland and Kopka doing same just a few examples of the many
Joseph Greenberg3 years ago
This is a vote for elite tournament bifurcation. Just a little known fact: tennis adapted a slightly fuzzier, heavier ball for male pros. The game was much more competitive and watchable than when it was dominated by hard servers. And as MGS has pointed out, the PGA Tours have done no one any favors by mowing fairways in the direction of greens and cutting down rough (was shocked attending the final Korn Ferry Championship event at Atlantic Beach CC: the rough was nonexistent and pros routinely aimed away from their fairways when hazards lurked). It is not an arbitrary matter of scores shot (unless you are the moronic USGA); it’s a matter of the best being challenged to play all the shots required to win.
Stephen3 years ago
1. It would be interesting to see if Shotscope data has the same pattern.
2. It would be interesting to look at MGS data from driver testing over the last several years. What has been the average and median drive in your tests?
3. I like Adam’s suggestion…grow the damn grass. Make the fairways a touch longer and tournaments to reduce role. Make the fairways tighter and the rough a bit longer to penalize bad drives.
Tim3 years ago
The ball that the average player needs to maximize distance and scoring is not he same as the ball the elite player uses. Bifurcation is not necessary. Just make the elite players play the ball tuned for the 90 mph player. That ball will spin more off the driver, costing yards and accuracy. It will also spin more off a wedge, making spin control on approach more skillful. It will also allow for more curving of the ball throughout the bag, bringing shot-making back instead of every shot being high and straight. Watch an early 90s major or Ryder Cupo replay and marvel at the clubs used for approaches and how much they worked the ball.
Mike3 years ago
How is watching the pros play with Top Fllites or a 1980 balata ball going to enhance the game? And as for major ball manufacturers to make these specifically for the men’s pro tour, that idea is dead in the water. Can you imagine trying to market a ball knowing that no pro now uses that product?
What’s wrong with the game now? I don’t think the 1960’s are coming back anytime soon.
Jim3 years ago
There was a time when ball makers DID make balls with some difference for PROS. But the balls are so well made (Tour style balls) now there is very little or no difference in balls, I know one of the big ball makers has as part of the manufacturing being every ball goes through a test (firing or shooting) the ball looking for a certain number and they do pull the top performers out for their tour pros, but it is very little difference and NO handicap golfer would ever see any difference.
mikey t3 years ago
the USGA and R&A should leave well enough ALONE !!!!
why should a hand full of people set rules for a majority of people that play the game for FUN !!!! Are they trying to get people to leavethe game because of their asinine way of thinking !!!! It’s kind of how the USGA sets up U.S. Open courses….set up borderline IDIOTIC AND STUPID !!!!! Defending par ??? It’s a wonder that any of the top players in the world show up ! So, give os “AVERAGE” players a break and leave OUR game alone !!!!1
Russ3 years ago
So the question seems to be ” should the elite players be made to play with balls or equipment that restricts distance”? . Years ago one elite player mooted that all tour players should have the same clubs when cavity back irons made the game easier for the pros that chose them.
The biggest distance killers for the average weekend player here in NZ are simply wet fairways, cold temperatures and chilling winds in the Winter, which is our official playing season. For us over 70’s we just battle on and look forward to the Summer.
I would leave things as thy are, there will always be a gulf between tour pros and the average 17 handicapper, and so there should be. Maybe the real argument is between the current crop of super-hitters and the rest of the field?
Mike3 years ago
I couldn’t have said it better. The USGA is a complete bunch of idiots and should not be allowed anywhere near the pro game. They’ve screwed up so many US Opens that it’s laughable. I can’t really think of too many ways to make the game easier, it still takes hard work and talent. But I laugh at some of the suggestions to make the game harder for the average person (i.e. take equipment back 50 years), etc.)
David Dimmich3 years ago
I’m not sure the argument has ever been that the recreational golfer is hitting it too far. The professionals are, so I agree with MGS that all that has to be done is grow the rough and the fairways at PGA events, and that will take care of the problem. Once spectators grow accustomed to it, I don’t think it will matter if pro’s are hitting it 325, or 285….
Greg3 years ago
I have Arco and found they would randomly miss a shot. There is not enough time during the round to check if the shot registered. Their customer service is prompt …but … I suggested that once a shot is done a ‘vibrate’ or ‘ping’ sound thru your phone to indicate a proper shot registered. I gave up in these last year – once we get back to golfing this year will give it another try … but …
Alan3 years ago
Regardless of age and sex it depends on the individual. For instance i play with an 80 year old on a 10 handicap. He has been playing golf since he was 5 years of age. He averages 230 meters of the tee with his drive. His short game is not what it used to be, but still fairly tidy. The legendary old time long driving exponent, Mike Austin was still hitting 300 yard drives in his late seventies just before he had a crippling stroke.
Gebby3 years ago
Leave the ball and the game alone! Let the professionals go as low as they can go at PGA/LPGA/Tour Champions tour events. Make the majors tough. Adjust agronomic practices if you must. People rarely go to baseball/football games to watch defense. Who cares what the elite shoot?
John Mc3 years ago
I saw that study and was surprised by the numbers, i started using Arccos this year after switching from Game golf the past 2 years and my Numbers are nowhere near theirs. i’m 43 adv drive this year is 274 using arccos and i play off 5.6, I am also Custom Fitted, so to say the avg drive of most men is only 220/240 is surprising, the Swing speed of all golfers in the study must be lower than 100mph
mackdaddy93 years ago
I play with a wide array of skill leveled players. I would say that the distances by handicap are quite reasonable. I think that this data really just shows the importance of getting a really good fitting. If you are curving the ball 20 yards it may look cool but it really is just losing distance. Get fit to a straight ball flight and optimize your distance. Many of the people I play with can smash one out of every six drives 30 yards past me because they are younger and stronger than I am yet the other 5 are mishits that fall near me or even short of me. I have a few friends that never out drove me even though they are 15-25 years younger than me. I convinced two of them to get full bag fittings and one is now shooting in the low to mid 70’s all the time and the other is sporting a 9 stroke improvement on his handicap. Both blast the ball by me consistently by 25 plus yards and hit irons 2 clubs longer than I do. GET FIT BEFORE YOU SPEND BIG MONEY ON CLUBS!
Anthony Zlahtic3 years ago
Interesting reading all the comments thus far, quite an astute bunch of readers, the comments summarize as follows for me:
• ARCCOS data maybe biased as the earlier users could have been keener better golfers and a couple years later, being used by a broader handicap level. It would be good if the ARCCOS data was broken down by player handicap, gender and age demographic.
• If an ARCCOS sample size is large enough by handicap, gender, and age demographic, statistically the data should be indicative and not be biased to not reflect that so many golfers do not or will never use ARCCOS (personally the thought of my mobile being in front pocket is a non-starter and then to boot the annual subscription cost)
Personally, I find it difficult to believe that driving distances are increasing in the past 3-years for non-elite golfers as I don’t buy into the hype of manufacturers year over year claims that the latest offerings will deliver greater distances. Check out the YouTube reviews by the usual suspects (Rick Shields, etc.) and all are consistently indicating that 2020’s offerings of drivers are not producing increased distance over the immediate preceding model. (I do buy into newer player distance irons producing greater distances over time based on my comparison of my PING i200s vs i500s as an example. Player distance irons should by virtue of strengthening lofts).
As for the pros, golf is their living and the level of training done off the course, swing coaches, weight room attributes more to increasing distances than equipment. Guys like Tiger Woods and Rory McIIroy have been generating driver ball speeds approaching 180 mph for quite a few years (make no mistake, those guys are very fit athletes). I doubt there are many on the PGA tour that don’t have a very strict diet and workout regime now. Makes me remember the famous golfers of the 1970s and 80s, some with guts and smoking during rounds (I do miss the charm of that era).
JLS3 years ago
I do not care what this data says the fact is the equipment now allows golfers to swing harder with more confidence and hit the ball further than they would have been able to with equipment from years past. It’s also true that hitting the ball further is incredibly closely correlated with scoring average. The driver is the safest club in the bag and the further I hit it I only increase my chance at a birdie putt so rarely ever any reason to tee off with anything else. My home course was built in 1919 and it’s out dated. Our long par 4 makes perfect sense if your playing with persimmon. Wide fairway with a large green that has a bail out right and only one green side bunker left. It was made to hit a long iron into and allow you to run the ball on. So this was how it was designed to be played and I’m typically hitting no more than an 8 iron into it. I will add one caveat to this however and that is that if you are swinging the club at less than 100-105 mph you will see little to no difference using the most modern technology. The advances that have been made in technology disproportionately benefit players with faster swing speeds. Companies like PING have been very forthcoming about this fact. So if you are swinging at 95 mph you wont hit it any further if you are playing a new mavrik driver or an old titleist 910. That’s the bad news, but the good news is the marginal gains that you stand to get from speed training to add 5-10 mph of swing speed couldn’t ever be greater. The last point that I’ll add related to amateur and recreational golfers here is something I touched on earlier, the driver is incredibly safe to hit. Drivers have become so forgiving that where you hit it on the face doesn’t seem to matter. So often it happens to me or others that I see and it’s hit on the toe, the heel or bottom of the face and it travels seemingly just as far and only slightly off line. There’s no reason not to make every effort to increase swing speed and hit the ball further. In Regards to guys on tour that drive the ball far, yes if you roll things back they will still be the best and still be incredibly long but what the equipment has done is bunched up the talent at the highest levels of the game. That’s what guys like Rory and Adam Scott have realized. Yes, they have benefited from equipment advances but guys they’re competing against week in and week out who are inferior ball strikers to them have benefited much more as the equipment has masked their deficiencies allowing them a chance to keep up with those guys I just mentioned.
Anthony Z3 years ago
I agree and disagree with your observations. It really comes down to what era of equipment you are comparing…is it old persimmon early era metal wood to more recent drivers of today? Rick Shiels has a number of good videos on YouTube where he compares different vintages of more recent offerings from TaylorMade and PING. I recall, he hit the TaylorMade SLDR driver the furthest and I think a PING G20 furthest. Shiels generates 110 mph+ club head speed.
Years ago I was at a practice day for the British Open at Carnoustie and had the privilege of chatting with Gary Player. He told me that in his prime that on a particular hole at Augusta that he targeted a sprinkler head as being a good drive. Years later playing Augusta as a senior with the tee blocks move back 40 yards, he was able to blow past the same sprinkler head.
So I agree, equipment matters, but what vintage are you comparing?
JLS3 years ago
Obviously 110 mph is adequate to realize the benefits from these newer clubs. I’m not sure what the take away from a single person hitting a drive or even a small sample of drives as far or further using one club or another should be? Is it that the older club with presumably inferior technology is as good and as long as newer clubs? Or is it that an older club with presumably inferior technology can be as good and as long as more recent clubs? Effectively it comes down to a question of one shot versus all of your shots over the course of time using that club. To answer the question directly though I would say that if two clubs are made in the same 10 year window there’s a strong likelihood that one can be as long as the other for a given shot.
Nick3 years ago
It is 100% proportional. If it helps 3% at 300 yards that’s almost a 10 yard gain but at 200 yards its 6 yards. The harder you hit it the more it helps.
JLS3 years ago
It’s entirely disproportionate the advantages new technology offers players with higher swing speeds. It’s not linear like your example would suggest. Key examples of this are advances in the aerodynamics of the club head. PING started this with their “turbulators” but even they acknowledge that a player who swings faster (Bubba Watson) will benefit more and see a greater increase in swing speed than someone swinging at a slower swing speed. So to your example someone hitting the ball 300 yards gains 3% they gain 9 yards but someone hitting it 200 yards may only gain 1% and see an increase of 2 yards.
al berg3 years ago
Nicklaus and Palmer both said something needs to be done about distance pros are hitting it. There’s hardly a par 5 on tour that is a three shot hole.. And, yes, what the top players do impacts all of us. Take it down a notch and put a cap on distance and the average 10-16 handicapper will hardly notice but courses will no longer feel that they have to be 7300+ yds to handle the modern game. Your study would have been a lot more pertinent if it had compared 1979 to 2019. and just included top players.
Thomas3 years ago
Nice read. All said and done here’s my input for what it’s worth. Does long drives really lead to lower scores? If so why can’t those who participate in long driving competition make it on the PGA. Tour or even the top Amature tours ?????
Dave Richards3 years ago
I definitely think there needs to be two sets of rules. Keeping amateurs to the same set of rules as elite players is ridiculous. Most of us want equipment that will allow us to hit the ball as far as possible whether it meets USGA or PGA rules or not. I use illegal drivers and balls and they add a great deal of pleasure to my gold experience.
Mike3 years ago
You use illegal drivers and illegal balls? How does that “add” to your experience? That’s a pure ego thing, you just want to tell folks you hit the ball farther than you should and score better than you should. Let me guess, any putt three or four feet away is “good” and the “foot wedge” is your 15th club.. actually as I always tell my friends. I really don’t care what any of the player does out there. You’ve paid your money to play and as long as you’re not slowing me down or attempting to take money out of my pocket, you’re free to spend the 4+ hours out there any way you want.
Jon Silverberg3 years ago
This discussion reminds me of the old parable of the blind men and the elephant (“A says elephants are like snakes, B says elephants are like houses, C says elephants are like trees, D says elephants are like carpets.” All because each one is touching a different part of the elephant.). We need to strongly advocate for the USGA/R&A to collect acceptable and complete data on the whole golfer population before making any recommendations on this issue. Of course, under the current circumstances, who knows when that will even be possible, nevermind attempted.
Drew3 years ago
Issue with that parable is it implies (potentially arrogantly) that one can see the whole picture while the other participants are blind and can only feel part of elephant.
Jon Silverberg3 years ago
I don’t think it’s arrogant to say that I can see at least four parts of the elephant (the touring pros, teaching/local pros, high-level ams, and the vast majority of ams), and that the USGA/R&A are giving every impression of focusing only on the touring pros in declaring that there is a problem. I am very familiar with teaching/local pros and high-level amateurs because I administer golf tournaments. I am a member of a golf club, and therefore very familiar with the game possessed by the majority of amateurs as well. I actually think it’s arrogant to say that people can’t see more than one aspect of this question.
Andrew3 years ago
I play 50+/- rounds a year in Michigan. I play with low, mid & high handicap players. I’m guessing that I play with 50 +/- different guys. NO one hits the ball to far. Scores are not coming down. When every weekender starts shooting par, then and only then would we need a discussion on distance. The whole discussion is absurd. Golf is a hard game! If you wants pros shooting par, narrow and water the fairways, let the rough grow and let the greens dry up. My regular course plays 350 yards longer in the spring (long rough & wet fairways) , that combined with the winter layoff takes my scores 3-6 shots up from end of season numbers.
Mike3 years ago
Great post, I’m in New Jersey and experience the same phenomenon in Spring and late Fall. On that very rare occasion when someone has told me a course is too short for them, I always say, “hey, I’m going to stand back and watch you a lot this round because I’ve never seen a person break 65 here”.
Jim3 years ago
I play in the desert (palm Springs) during the summer and some days with the wind behind us and the rock hard fairways at least once a round we will see the 240 yard guy get over 300….same course in fall/winter same course 240 yard guy is getting some 195 drives on same holes.
Jeff3 years ago
I have written on this several times but it is worth repeating – totally against bifurcation. I think the answer is easy, address the ball. Right now if you hit the ball at 100 MPH you get a measured performance limit, but it you hit the ball at 120 MPH you can get huge speed without adding additional spin – which mean you get a long straight ball. The ball manufactures can make balls that meet any spec – so for speeds of 105 or less – they should not be changed, but for speeds over 105, esp, as players get to 120, it should be much harder to hit the ball straight – that was the balata ball scenario – if you didn’t really golf your ball, it could fly off the planet – there was a better risk reward scenario. With the current ball, there is very little risk. Pros bash it with a cut and just don’t have to be that precise.
It is doable. We simply need better ball testing. Testing at 120 MPH, not 100MPH
mike byford3 years ago
There s absolutely no need to bifurcate rules or equipment – this is one of the great joys of the game! What needs to change ? The course set ups and mowing the pros play courses where the fairways are better and faster than the greens of handicappers ! The rough is shorter and manicured!. Example I am a 8Hcp and played The Oxfordshire as a guest of a member and shot 14 and broke my wrist playing a shot out of the rough only 5 yards of the fairway. Went to hospital 3 days after because the wrist hurt and it showed a hairline fracture because the 2ft long piano grass had wrapped round the shaft Played the same course a year later 5 days after the British masters was held there … shot level par!! the rough was short fairways running like glass and greens hot. Stop lying PGA .. it is the way you set up courses that gets the scores and distances ..
Willie T3 years ago
It looks that the data “suggests” for non-elite players there is no real increase in distance gains over the past few years. We all acknowledge that the pros play at another level – just the same as they do in any other sport. For me what the real question is this, ‘what is the long term goal of golf’s ruling bodies?” – to set limits on course lengths? to limit the length of drives? to keep “historical” courses in play? The simple answer may be what folks have already said – narrow the fairways, deepen the roughs. I would love for the pro’s to have to limit their clubs to 10 max – and no driver lofted stronger than 10deg.
Robin3 years ago
While I believe that the underlying trend to be true, I can’t say I trust Arccos distance data to be accurate enough to underlie this type of study. I’ve been an Arccos user for 2 + seasons, and distance off the tee, and distance in general is NOT it’s strong suit. Arccos is frequently wrong about the distances it records on shots from the tee, and in general. Not wildly wrong, but 5-10 yds. Arccos cannot erify GPS accuracy, because it relies on a phones’ GPS in someone’s pocket.. (leave Apple watch recording out, it barely works). Arccos has helped me improve, but I don’t take their distance measurement seriously.
William3 years ago
I don’t think anything should be done about the ball. As a 10 handicapper, I’ve not noticed any big yardage increase over the last 10-20 years; just the opposite as I age.
I think the answer is to acknowledge that the pros have added physical training and scientific swing analysis to their games to increase yardage in a way that older pros did not; similar to other athletes in other sports. The USGA and the R&A and the PGA will simply have to further modify an older course set up to place a premium on accuracy. Make the big bombers pay for long but errant tee shots. Squeeze the fairways even tighter for the pros; make the pros reconsider driver off the tee, especially, say on a relatively short par 5. Let the second cut of rough go to fescue.. Make sand traps truly a punishment by either not raking them or raking them with deep furrow rakes. In other words, make par tougher if you are worried about older courses in an age of 300+ yard average drives. Times and players change; pros have gotten more athletic and longer and better. The old course are still masterpieces for most golfers. For the brief period of time when the pros have a tournament on a “classic” course, adjust the course.
O'Falahan3 years ago
It occurs to me that the drive length differences found by Arccos for 2017-2019 are mostly less than 1%.. I would be surprised if such small difference are statistically significant.. Perhaps Arccos would be willing to provide Standard Deviations for each of its data sets?
Based on the data shown in this article, I hope the USGA/R&A make no changes to the rules to further constrain the lengths of drives..
However, I would like to see a rule that restricts balls to having no more than two uniform layers. But, I admit, I just don’t like paying $45 a dozen for balls.
JK3 years ago
First off agree with most of the above. Having been stuck with no sports and watching old Masters on You Tube can clearly say that Current Pro’s are hitting it farther and that Current Pro’s are better at approach shots nearer the pin. The latter may be due to changes in equipment. On the Pro level agree that one next step should be to make the courses they play on tour less forgiving and add sand traps at points that don’t ruin it for the local members but reduce the bombs away strategy.
William3 years ago
I don’t think anything should be done about the ball. As a 10 handicapper, I’ve not noticed any big yardage increase over the last 10-20 years; just the opposite as I age. I think the answer is to acknowledge that the pros have added physical training and scientific swing analysis to them increase yardage. The USGA and the R&A and the PGA will simply have to modify course set up to place a premium on accuracy. Make the big bombers pay for long but errant tee shots. Tighten the fairways; make the pros consider a drving iron off the tee v. the driver. Quit watering the second cut of rough and let it go. Make sand traps truly a punishment by either not raking them or raking them with deep furrow rakes. In other words, make par tougher if you are worried about older courses in an age of 300+ yard average drives.
Mark M3 years ago
So this data says it’s for ALL drives, does that mean there’s no differentiation between driver and all other clubs being used to tee off? If so then it’s inherently flawed to start with. Curious minds want to know …
Chris Nickel3 years ago
We’re taking driving distance, not “any club you hit off the tee” distance. So not to worry.
Geoff3 years ago
Higher handicap golfers are now buying the Arccos or having them pre installed, so I imaging over the past 3 years golfers using this tech are on average a little worse.
What percentage of golfers are saying that their weekend course is too short… I’m guessing not many.
Mark M3 years ago
Mace3 years ago
I also wonder whether Arccos’ average distances include gross mishits. As a 43-year-old, 22 handicap (just started playing a few years ago), I am perfectly capable of hitting over 250 yards, and a “good” drive for me is at least 230. But if we take all of my driver swings into account, my average is probably no more than 200 because I’m also perfectly capable of topping one barely past the red tees, or skying it to the front edge of the fairway, or slicing it into the trees and having it ricochet 50 yards backwards.
Doug3 years ago
I would take Arccos handicap data with a huge grain of salt. I’ve been using Arccos for years and it says I’m a 4.9 handicap. My real USGA handicap is 14.4.
Jon Lewis3 years ago
Is this total distance or carry numbers? 240 driver average for a scratch player seems low. And obviously Arcos caters to pretty serious golfers…!
I wonder if burification could work. Letting the ball manufacturers go nuts for your weekend warrior could be super good for the game. Golf is a really frustrating game and ppl first picking up the game 99% of the time will have cheap/outdated equipment. Having a limitless golfball that gives them hope seems good for the game.
As an analogy: Do you really expect weekend warrior softball players to want to play wooden bats? What’s the fun in that?! Homeruns make the beer flow. Good/lucky golf shots keep the tee times rolling.
The older crowd make up the majority of amateur golfers/lessons/consistent tee times/equipment purchases. They’re also the ones facing the distance losses. Give em the extra yardages and watch enjoyment/money pouring into the game go way up.
Any tournament/competition play should be decided by local rule which balls are allowed obviously. Guys used to playing a longer ball having to adjust back to a regulated one would really make serious golfers question how to play the game. Again, serious golfers are not the issue, as they are still nowhere near pro length according to Arcos!. We’re trying to grow the game!
If the ball is going to get rolled back, let’s only roll it back for tournament play. I don’t think we should roll it back at all, and certainly not across the board. I believe it would be devastating to the amateur game, which is most of the industry dollars.
Timothy D3 years ago
With all of the discussion lately about proper Testing Procedures in the news regarding the Pandemic, I can see how we would all want proper controls before relying on data. With that said, common sense tells me that Am Golfers are not hitting the ball too far. Who do you know personally that hits the ball too far? Do they or you bring your course to it”s knees with distance? Am Golfers need all of the distance we can get, not less. Let’s not drive anymore players away from the game.
Bryce3 years ago
There is no distance problem at all imo. Golfers are just like any other sport. baseball players hit it harder and throw faster than they used to, football players are bigger and stronger, basketball players are more skilled and accurate, and soccer players kick it harder. Every single one of these sports encourages changing with the times and the product on the field keeps getting better.
In every sport other than baseball (and they have deadened metal bats so much that it’s almost the same, the amateur and pro use the same equipment. The reason why the pro is so much better is because they have dedicated their lives to finding fractions of percentages, rather than playing once a weekend or less in most cases.
Golf doesn’t need to bifurcate equipment. They need to change the way they manage the courses. They should encourage guys to take the risk of mashing the ball and punish them when they miss. They need to accept the fact that short courses will turn into bird hunts and 15 under isn’t safe or stop trying to save history. F1 still holds onto Monoco and that is one of the most boring races of the season.
Yes, modern equipment helps guys out, but the Tigers, Rorys, and Rahms of the world would still be the best, even if they had to go back to playing hickories.
Taking a step back is not in our human nature. We shouldn’t force the guys at the top. We need to challenge them to perform in the midst of constant trials.
Bryan3 years ago
I don’t disagree with the findings but I question whether this is “carry” or “total” distance?
Gary Lee3 years ago
Obviously amateurs are not increasing distance like the pros. I believe the reason is training. All pros have some trainer focusing on the specific muscle group Designed to increase distance while optimizing their swing path. The combination of both are responsible for the increased distance. Not many amateurs have the time or money to work with a trainer to focus on muscle training to optimize their performance.
Justin T.3 years ago
I’m a single-digit handicapper and rarely play from the tips, generally only at the shorter munis around. So few of us are able to invest in our bodies to produce the highest swing speeds that cause ruling changes. For nearly all of us, it just doesn’t matter. BTW, this is why I like to watch the LPGA- they play yardages similar to what I play. I just don’t live in Rory’s world. Last thing- if we want to see (and I don’t know that we do) driving distances across all golfers increase- shouldn’t we be investing more in youth golfing programs? Probably a discussion for a different thread.
Pelle3 years ago
More and more softer balls are introduced to the market and many are now playing very low compression balls, maybe that can have an effect on the shorter drives.
Soft is slow!
Paul Vicary3 years ago
Well they can say what they will. What I can tell you is that with a new set of SIM Max irons to which I installed a se of KBS TGI 60 shafts and using TM TP5 balls, I am now averaging a 6.3 loss in distance per year over the past 3 years. I always said if the time comes to when I need a driver on a par 3 it’s time to hang em up.
Phillip Barrett3 years ago
My home course has a 235yd par 3. In winter conditions for me that is a driver. Summer 5w or 4h. Not ready to give it away just yet!
Geoffry Goodwin3 years ago
Tighten up the pro courses, but leave the equipment alone. It keeps the rest of us young.
Dan Zimmerman3 years ago
I’m 72, have played golf for 60 years and it’s scary how average I am, including at all ages across my years!!! Leave everything like it is, just make fairways narrower and rough deeper on all the courses that are “obsolete” form the elite golfers. Suck it up, Buttercup(s); I LOVE watching pros hit great shots from bad lies and over/under trees almost as much as I love hitting a few shots each and every round that are great and keep me playing!
HAC3 years ago
Also, how much of this reflects differences among people that play different brands of golf clubs? Aren’t a couple of manufacturers giving Arccos away with sets of clubs. Could the earlier data be more brand neutral?
Tony Hickey3 years ago
I think the biggest factor to distance is reflected in handicap and age and desire. I am 68 and handicap 9, when i was 53 I was fitted for a G10, I never looked for a new driver and clubs until I found that I was not hitting my yardages anymore. That was when I was 63. I spent another 18months until I was fitted for the Epic and I also switched irons to Speed blades. I also started to take lessons again and do stretching. exercises. I got my yardages back but now they are slipping again. I think yardages are just yardages but the real test is handicaps. If all recreational golfers are reducing their handicaps dramaticlly I might question Club and ball advancements, but I think they are not from my experience over 13 years in the same golf club. In that 13 years I think the oposite is true, the majority are now on higer handicaps.
I think chasing a solution to a problem that only exists at the elite level be it professional or amature should only be that. But it should not be restricting those athletes from hitting it as far as they can. That is one of the reasons I watch the game and love watching it. Watching Masters re-runs on utube is great.
Carolyn3 years ago
Love this article 100% telling everyone that a driver sold for $299 4 years ago compares with a $550. Also show some real power in the fitting game. I ask how is that !$300 dollar fitting and $550 driver feeling right now???
HAC3 years ago
How much of this reflects the fact that more people are using Arccos and that likely the earlier adapters were more serious players? Handicap data would suggest that this is not the only factor, but still I bet is one of the main reasons why distances have gone down rather than stayed the same.
Steve3 years ago
I think you are exactly correct. The year-over-year distance trend by handicap is much flatter than the year-over-year overall distance. The early users were likely better players (on average), and products like Cobra Connect have likely increased the average handicap in later years. A chart showing average handicap in this study by year would likely reflect this.
Chris Nickel3 years ago
I think it’s fair to say that the typical early adopter of Arccos skewed younger/faster/better.
Even so, the shift in the last several years has been slight and also likely more representative of the “true” amateur golfing population.
Doug3 years ago
I agree as well. While I absolutely think that amateur data should be far more relevant than it currently is to the distance question, I struggle with the approach for collecting that data. My first reaction to the article was that the data presented had an inherent bias due to the short history of Arccos. A more longitudinal approach would provide more interesting results.
Dave3 years ago
Dean Snell mentioned that a ball could be developed that, if I understood correctly, the faster the swing speed the less distance produced. Seems like a simple solution if it could be developed. If I lost any more distance off the tee I would quit the game and I have played my entire life.
don3 years ago
They didn’t raise the basket as basketball players got taller, the scores simply went up instead. There is no need for bifurcation. We just need to accept pro athletes are better and they are going to shoot well under par. That we should not try to force them to shoot par by tricking up the course, or by dumbing down the equipment.. That would be like over-inflating the pro’s basketball, or making the floor slippery to slow them down.
William3 years ago
The data is only for the last 3 yrs, and drivers are regulated by governing bodies and just do not have room to improve distance. Maybe if the data went back 10 years we would see improvement, but ARCOSS probably does not have substantial data going back that far. This is my reason why the data shows distances have not really changed.
NormW3 years ago
Data is only as good as it’s source.. Any self-reporting by high handicappers ?
CA GOLFER3 years ago
I would guess this is not self reporting at all.
Arccos uses your data to monitor handicap progress from round to round.
It knows what you shot, what course, tee box…..
It is pretty good at giving you feeback on HC progress at the end of each round.
This may differ slightly than the USGA, but I have found it to be pretty close.
Imafitter3 years ago
I’ve tried Arccos and found the system to be inaccurate and would not recommend. Checking my phone, when I actually shot 82, Arccos showed 54! This wasn’t just once, this was every round. I plan on buying Sure Shot V3 in June.
CA Golfer3 years ago
I have not seen that issue.
I have used the driver sensor, full set of sensors and a few in grip sensors.
Did you have your phone in your pocket the entire time?
It uses the microphone to hear the contact of the ball to record each shot.
I have not had an issue with more than 1-2 shots being missed a round (this is the worst case, all others were spot on)
Rob3 years ago
I used Arccos for almost all of 2019. I had some occasional glitches. But certainly nothing to that level.. It’s most likely user error in some form or fashion. Where most people error is the adding or editing of penalty strokes. or recording of putts.
It was very accurate in my distances and the location of the ball on the hole.
Alex3 years ago
It would be interesting if they had a longitudinal study– golfer A over 3 years as he or she gets older– but than you have sample size issues. I’d be curious to see if course conditions remained constant– a sort of grow the grass subset. A wet winter/spring would hurt roll whereas a dry winter/spring would increase roll (I live in the Pacific NW– which is the extreme example of this).
RT3 years ago
This is interesting but this is based only on those that use or play using the Arccos system of golf tracking .Most certainly the majority of golfers do not use this system or for that fact don’t use any such system at all. …. So I would say the jury is still out on this …
CA Golfer3 years ago
I would say that this data, R&A data on rec golfers and other tracking systems all show the same thing.
Driver distances are pretty close to where they were a few years ago.
The numbers in the study reflect a group of golfers who are looking to track their golf shots, learn and improve.
If anything these numbers could be slightly higher than the average golfers “average driver distance” (I’m not talking about how far they think they hit it)
26 million shots is a lot of data and puts together solid info on the distances golfers are actually hitting.
Lou Parker3 years ago
I guess I fundamentally don’t understand the inconsistencies. The metrics give us only age and handicap. But, it does’t say what the equipment variables are. I am a senior who uses new equipment, but many people of all ages use equipment that is very old and they could benefit from an upgrade generally. And speaking of which, the lengths of drives have come down from 2017 to 2019. I thought all that new equipment was to increase our distance!
Jay Davis3 years ago
I would recommend limiting the balls that can be used for elite competition or even making all players use the same ball. Mind blowing right?
John Herman3 years ago
My drive length is about 195-215 yards. More in FL. Precisely why I have worked on my irons, particularly from 150 yards and closer to the green, and specially on chipping and putting. I have outplayed many longer because of this. I am 74.5 years old and drive it in the fairway most of the time, and lose very few balls. Up and Down? – 40-60% of the time. it helps. The best balls do give me about 12-14 yards distance, but nothing I cannot overcome by going with a 6 iron instead of a 7 iron.
NH Golfer3 years ago
To ruling bodies…leave things alone.
Just a thought on this info from Arcos…given their relationship with Cobra one has to wonder if this declining distance info was tied to poor Cobra drivers.
shortside3 years ago
They’re actually quite good. I have one. It’s got a lot more to do with the average swing. Which isn’t very good.
Chris Nickel3 years ago
Cobra partnered up with Arccos in 2016. If anything, Cobra drivers haven’t been given deserved recognition.
The 2019 F9 tested exceptionally well and was very popular with high swing speed players. The 2020 Speedzone Extreme was the most forgiving driver in our test and produced the best smash factor (efficiency).
To suggest Cobra drivers are “poor” is a statement lacking sufficient evidence. If anything, the opposite is true.
Matt3 years ago
Yeah, I play the F9 driver and it’s pretty damn good.
CA GOLFER3 years ago
Interesting idea, but probably not right.
Arccos sold a ton of the “Arcoos Driver” sensors over the last few years. I would bet that data plays a much bigger part of the data for driver distance than other clubs in the bag. Also many of those older corbra driver likely regripped and no longer sensing.
I see more non-cobra equipment with screw in sensors than I do cobra gear being used for Arccos (clubs that still have the sticker over the sensor or no phone in the pocket)
Phil3 years ago
Do not need any fancy electronic device to help my game, I have a score card they hand me every time I play….just look at the last two or three and I know right then how the game is improving/maintaining/needs work….funny I know just about how far the ball went and I sure know if its in the fairway or not….save your money
Vic3 years ago
I think Ping just started a relationship with Arccos as well. So now that’s two big OEMs. You can also just buy the sensors for your clubs if you like.
TR1PTIK3 years ago
That’s just a bad take considering the amount of Cobra clubs I see out on the course (not many) whereas Arccos sensors have been available as a standalone product since late 2014 or early 2015. Basically, it’s doubtful there’s any evidence or data to support your hypothesis.
Tank3 years ago
So the thought of a better ball, some up to date equipment will not guarantee you more distance….well imagine that!!
David Gardner3 years ago
I keep tell people I hit it long 5 years ago.
Bob Mulligan3 years ago
It is still a game of “How Many” not ” How Far”. The mind is a terrible thing to waste!
Morgan Grant3 years ago
I have read more than once that 95-100 MPH is the average driver swing speed for male rec golfers. If this is true shouldn’t the average drive be longer??? At 60 my driver speed is ~ 92 mph and my on course experience is that I average 220-230 yds which appears average. The Arcos data seems right to me but the estimations of average swing speeds seem overly optimistic. Perhaps it is all industry marketing to get us to feel insecure about our swing speeds so we take lessons and buy new drivers 🙂
don3 years ago
After many years of fitting golfers for drivers, trust me that the average swing speed is not 95-100 mph. What is true is the average swing speed for the better players who actually come in to get fit is close to that range.
Chris Nickel3 years ago
Certainly, the definition of “average” golfer matters. If it’s based on a handicap (say 14-16), then it excludes all golfers who don’t keep and maintain a handicap.
If it’s based on a database of fittings, then it excludes anyone who hasn’t been fit. This is all the more reason there should be a comprehensive effort to get a complete picture of what amateur performance looks like.
At best, what each of us knows is about how far our buddies typically hit it and whatever we see on Sunday afternoons. Beyond that, it’s a muddy mess.
HAC3 years ago
If you hit the ball solidly and straight, couldn’t you drive the ball significantly further (on average) than someone with a faster swing speed than someone who does not hit the ball in the middle of the club or hooks or slices the ball. I am 64 and have a swing speed of about 89 mph and out drive on average a couple of guys who swing faster than me. Why, well, they out drive me when they hit it well, but I am more consistent. By contrast, there are other people who out drive me with lower swing speeds on days I am less consistent.
Terry3 years ago
It’s crazy to me that the avg driving distance for my age group is 225 yds. For reference I hit my AP1 4 iron 225 avg.
Marty3 years ago
Garbage in garbage out?
Blase3 years ago
Facts, my 2 hybrid goes farther than my age groups average. Granted I’ve had my bad drives which does knock my average down buts it definitely not 230s
shortside3 years ago
Simple Terry. You’re among a small minority. Like many I’ve lost count of the course paired or homemade foursomes I’ve played with. Every once in a while I’ll see that guy who gets it out there 250 to 280+ consistently. They’re the exception by a wide margin not the rule. Most are in the 200 neighborhood or less.
In truth players like yourself drive the numbers up. Handicaps tick down for the average golfer by playing smart, using the right tees (watching guys hit it 200 yards from the back tees drives me nuts), keeping the ball in play and a solid short game. My best scores have always come by giving myself as many good one putt opportunities as possible. Even if that’s for par. Then making them.
CA Golfer3 years ago
Can’t agree more.
most golfer have no idea how far they really hit the ball. An average golfer I see on the weekend doesn’t cross the 200 yard mark more than a couple times a round. That is playing driver on all par 4s and 5s.
Maintaining a higher swing speed for a round and making solid contact is incredibly difficult for most golfers.
Slice, hook, top, fat, super high spin are all part of that distance loss.
Steve3 years ago
Well said, shortside. I am 63, and no doubt, aided by the advances in technology. But my scores are determined by 2 things and 2 things only: Keeping it in the fairway between 210-225. And having a good short game, which emphasizes no 3-putts and chipping it close. That makes you and me like a lot of people.. I never could bomb and gouge like the pros and I sure as hell won’t start doing so now.
Tap In3 years ago
ShortSide, Unfortunately you are correct. I don’t like to think of myself as the exception since I still hold a 16 hdcp. However, like Terry, I strike the ball well and average well over 250.. I jokingly tell members of my group that they have to buy the next round if out drive them with my 4 iron. I would be staggering by the turn if I actually held them to it. But, with that said I rarely actually use my driver on the course (or play from the tips for that matter). Like you said, I am trying to improve my game and hit fairways and maybe some GIR to lower my hdcp rather than impress people with the long ball. Hunting for a ball in the trees or hitting three off the tee is murder on the scorecard.
Jackie3 years ago
And you are calling yourself a “recreationnal golfer” ? Must be on the tour ! But everybody knows, right now, that you are GOOD.
Arthur3 years ago
I am guessing the handicap chart will more closely reflect your performance. A 60 year old 10 handicapper should always outdrive.a 25 year old 20 handicapper.
dr. bloor3 years ago
Handicap is a function of 100 yards in, not distance off the tee.
Mike3 years ago
What’s your index, sport? Congratulations, you hit the ball far, you win a cookie.
Dave H.3 years ago
Love the Don Rickles (Kelly’s Heroes) reference. YOU Mike, win a cookie.
HAC3 years ago
Very few people measure their average distance with a club. They measure their distance when they hit it well. Average distance includes when you top it, hit is fat, hit it left, hit it right, etc.
Jim3 years ago
So true, and it is the case with most things people measure about themselves in life.. Being delusional about your real abilities just sets you up for failure with results to expectations.. I’ve played with very few golfers in my life that actually under estimated their abilities, but those that did, seemed much happier.