Arccos 2021 Distance Report
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Arccos 2021 Distance Report

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Arccos 2021 Distance Report

On Wednesday, March 16th golf’s governing bodies (USGA and R&A) sent an official notice to equipment manufacturers regarding “changes that address the long-term cycle of consistent hitting increases in hitting distances.”

The specifics of that memo provide plenty of fodder for future debate, but the entire topic is predicated on a single premise.

Golfers are hitting the ball too far.

Or are they?

Leveraging the Arccos database, which includes 516,000,000+ tracked shots, the data tells a compelling, if not contradictory, story.

Arccos 2021 Distance Report

How player data was selected:

  • In a calendar year, a player needed to hit at least 60 shots WITH DRIVER.
  • There were 29,466,594 total shots hit in the data set (4.7M in 2019, 9.1M in 2020, 15.7M in 2021)
  • For each player, we calculated the median distance with driver for that calendar year.
  • We then looked at the median distance across all players at the player level, not the shot level
  • At the player level, the median was used to limit the impact of any outliers. If a data set is relatively consistent, a calculated average can work. However, given a less uniform data set, the median mitigates the impact of outliers (ex. Player “tops” a tee shot that travels only 20 yards).
  • The 20th and 80th percentiles were used simply to give an idea of how far a “longer” hitter hits the ball (80th percentile) and how far a shorter hitter hits the ball (20th). A player in the 80th percentile is longer than 80% of all players.

Key Takeaways

  • Amateur golfers are NOT hitting the ball too far
  • .5% of Arccos players have a median driving distance of 290-yards or longer
  • 1.5% of Arccos players have a median driving distance of 280-yards or longer
  • 3.9% of Arccos players have a median driving distance of 270-yards or longer
  • 24.0% of Arccos players have a median driving distance of 199-yards or SHORTER
  • Across all age and handicap brackets, the average driving distance remains just shy of 200 yards.

Course Length

How players were selected:

  • The logic to select players and calculate their median driving distance is the same as used above.
  • Based on the median driving distance for a player, we looked at each round they played. From there, we categorized players by how far they hit the ball while referencing the percentage of their rounds played across different course lengths.

Key Takeaways

  • In general, golfers are not playing many long courses, but many golfers are still playing courses that are too long given their median driver distance.
  • 3% of all rounds are played at 6900 yards or longer
  • 8% of all rounds are played at 6700 yards or longer. ~47% of “regulation 18-hole courses” in the USA have at least one tee box at 6700+
  • Players that have a median distance with driver of 200 to 219 yards play 47% of their rounds over 6200 yards. The USGA recommends for players with an average tee shot distance of 225-yards, they should play courses between 5800 and 6000 yards. Yet players that hit it 200-220 are playing nearly half their rounds over 6200 yards.
  • You probably need to move up a tee box.

Altitude

  • This uses the same players as above and bins them by handicap.
  • This analysis looked at the median distance of tee shots at the individual shot level for rounds played across different altitudes.
  • For reference:
  • Albuquerque, NM: 5,312 feet above sea level
  • Denver, CO: 5,280 feet above sea level
  • Salt Lake City, UT: 4,226 feet above sea level
  • El Paso, TX 3,740 feet above sea level
  • Phoenix, AZ 1,058 feet above sea level
  • Dallas, TX 430 feet above sea level
  • New York, NY (sea level)

Key Takeaways:

  • Altitude helps longer players more than shorter players.
  • Gain at sea level to 5000+ feet is 13 to 30 yards
  • If you play at various altitudes, it’s important to understand the role of trajectory and spin to maximize distance. Or put differently, the ideal combination of launch and spin in San Diego, CA (sea level) likely isn’t the same as in Denver, CO (5,280 ft).

The topic of distance is multi-faceted, and it’s clear the ruling bodies both acknowledge and struggle with this reality. But perhaps the most glaring juxtaposition is that of amateur and professional golfers. Your weekend foursome isn’t the reason courses are adding length or posting scores that appear to make iconic venues obsolete.

At least, that’s not what the data says. Tell us what you think.

 

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Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris is a self-diagnosed equipment and golf junkie with a penchant for top-shelf ice cream. When he's not coaching the local high school team, he's probably on the range or trying to keep up with his wife and seven beautiful daughters. Chris is based out of Fort Collins, CO and his neighbors believe long brown boxes are simply part of his porch decor. "Isn't it funny? The truth just sounds different."

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

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      BP21901

      2 years ago

      My takeaway from the article is that I need to move to the mountains and gain about 15 yards!

      Reply

      jonathan farrington

      2 years ago

      Is it total carry distance or total distance including roll that is presented here, please? Thank you.

      Reply

      Richard

      2 years ago

      Arccos is not a launch monitor that can give carry distance, roll, or any other advanced stats like that. It’s a GPS based shot tracking tool on each club used during a golf round that can only give total distance and location for each shot (tee to green).
      The accumulated data can be used to show your performance (distance and direction) with each club in the bag, except putter.

      Reply

      Patrick

      2 years ago

      Has to be total, Arccos doesn’t have a way to know carry distance.

      Reply

      Rob

      2 years ago

      Nice report. Distance is more of an issue at the professional level than at the amateur level. And the real issue is scoring and that comes from an antiquated notion that somehow par is a good score for a pro. But chicks did the long ball (drive) and fans love birdies. Plus, pros actually are athletes now, not like in the past. They are constantly working out and working on their game. They use technology in ways that were not foreseen even a decade ago. All in an effort to play better golf. So instead of hand wringing over distance, maybe the powers that be should embrace the changes.

      And it was nice to see at 56 years of age, my driving distance is still above mean/median.

      Reply

      Mat

      2 years ago

      There is a very simple fix. Limit golf ball compression to 70.

      As someone who plays a ball near 100, this would hurt a bit, but that’s ok. I’m in the upper quarter in distance. Everyone else won’t notice because they’re already playing a softer ball anyhow. You don’t have to stop making those balls, but make them a comp local rule like the new 46″ rule.

      Something a pinch softer than a Bridge XS would make the bombers think twice, since they may spin it a touch more and that would be a more appropriate risk-reward. For almost everyone else, no one cares.

      Reply

      John Westall-Eyre

      2 years ago

      Couldn’t agree more. The authorities seem to think it’s a problem. I’ve listened to all sorts of opinions on both sides of the pond. Some people love the Bryson effect some don’t, he’s certainly made the most of his talent and dedication. If there isn’t a distance issue for amateurs ( and I think most people don’t think there is?) then we are talking about monitoring and limiting the elite pro game. Again if it’s about money then manufacturers aren’t going to spend a pile on R&D making shorter clubs. Limit the easy cheap but for the elite pros. Shift back fixes it all no? Cheap easy and doesn’t require artificial course management. No?

      Reply

      Gary

      2 years ago

      I think a distance comparison with irons from before and now would be more insightful for the distance discussion than the drivers. I watched players at the Valspar hit driver and then irons into a par 5 (225-235) they were green high every time. Who hits driver/5 iron into par 5’s? I don’t care how far they hit it, but the pro game is already so different from amateurs. Their distance issues are not ours, obviously.

      Reply

      JOHN MATULIK

      2 years ago

      Why is this really an issue? The lowest score wins, regardless if it’s +2 or -30.

      Reply

      Matt Gallo

      2 years ago

      Thanks for putting this together. Love Arccos and that it can provide data like this to see what us normal golfers are actually like. There’s a ton of hoopla about what is done at the PGA Tour, but my weekend game is made of a bunch of single handicap guys who don’t hit it as far as they think. Only reason I know my true distances is because of Arccos.

      Reply

      Richard Cox

      2 years ago

      So many good points in the comments above. Just like everything else, your own experience likely helps form your point of view. I’m a long hitter and the tech makes a huge difference for me, but I will never have the game to compete with pros or even good college golfers. I also don’t want to watch pros hit the ball 275, especially if the game is bifurcated…because then my Arccos length stats will seem ridiculous. YOU MEAN MY AVERAGE DRIVE IS LONGER THAN JT’s??

      All that being said, my experience is not typical. But part of what makes me enjoy golf so much is to compare myself to pros and imagine what I might hit into the holes the pros are playing. That’s part of what makes golf different from other sports in that you can at least imagine playing against pros. Similar venues, similar equipment. But even that idea is somewhat BS in that I don’t alter my equipment on a daily basis or hit sand shots with a launch monitor. Or have an entourage following me around on the practice tee.

      We’re all at various levels of delusion when it comes to our games. But personally I don’t see why artificial length restrictions are needed beyond what we already have in place. Comparing Hogan to Jack to Tiger to DJ to Bryson is already impossible. Too many variables. I understand Augusta doesn’t want their scoring records broken on a yearly basis, and the USGA doesn’t want -12 winning the Open. But there are other ways to make pro setups more challenging. Yeah Bryson won the US Open bombing and gouging, but he hasn’t had much success at, say, the Players. Or Augusta for that matter. And Morikawa is doing pretty well even though he’s not a bomber.

      Reply

      Bryan

      2 years ago

      I agree that there are things you can do to a tournament course to lessen the distance the pros drive the ball. Narrow the fairways, water the fairways more so they aren’t as dry thus preventing a ball to roll 50+ yards. I have heard many stories of how they let the fairways dry out to allow huge rollouts especially on the senior tour. Well that may just need to change then.

      Reply

      Kim R I-P

      2 years ago

      The R&A and USGA are SO out of touch, the only reason I was rooting for Greg Norman’s golf league. I’m with Ernie Else, for the PGA tour, deepen the rough and narrow the fairways.. I’m sick and tired of the bombers being glorified on TV. Golf should be about finesse and skill.

      Reply

      Josh

      2 years ago

      Deep rough and narrow fairways only glorifies the bombers more. Look at the US Open at Winged Foot. Can’t finesse the ball out of deep rough either. Get a clue.

      Reply

      Raymond M Masleck

      2 years ago

      Most of the commentators here do not appear to have read what the USGA has put out there for discussion. The regulator is suggesting increasing the swing speed used to test the maximum distance allowed for a golf ball. This would target the top one-tenth of a per cent of golfers in terms of distance. The USGA is also suggesting increasing the maximum speed at which a golf ball can leave the club face, which would benefit the slower swingers but not benefit the super fast swingers as their golf balls would still be subject to the distance cap..

      Reply

      Paul Booij

      2 years ago

      I hope they don’t roll anything back. For the first in my life I have a fitted driver. I am selfish.

      Reply

      birdie dancer

      2 years ago

      Jack Nicklaus has been talking about rolling back the ball for the pros for what 25-30 years? and nobody listened to the old fuddy duddy,. Now here we are again…and it’s suddenly an issue …..It’s been obvious for a long long time pros play a different game. Golf is unique, it’s both a sport at the highest level, and a Game for the 99%.

      Reply

      Matt

      2 years ago

      What gets lost here is not the average distance – due to mishits etc, but the ability of 10-15% of players at every golf club to hit balls a long way and off line. Holes that were once safe, end up with boundary issues, safety to other holes and the like. What does that mean? Courses have spent a lot of money to “fix” these things, in some cases they have had change many holes to fix it or even close the course down. What does that mean? More expensive golf for everyone and often lower quality golf. Growing rough and narrow fairways doesn’t fix those issues. Yep more pros go to the gym than they used to, but blokes in their 50s are hitting it further now than in their prime – with injuries etc they have accumulated over the years – just look at senior tour driving stats and compare those same guys to what they did 25 yrs ago

      Reply

      Stephen Pearcy

      2 years ago

      Excellent report. Is not the real issue is that the the USGA is totally focused on elite golf and not golfers in general. What other explanation for getting all wound up about something that affects only 5% of golfers. And, at the same time, not able to produce a rational set of rules which affect all golfers.

      Reply

      Kevin

      2 years ago

      Honestly…probably barely affects point 5 percent of golfers.

      Reply

      LABillyboy

      2 years ago

      This is a lawn mower problem not a driver/ball problem. Want pros hitting long irons into a hole? Just stop mowing the fairway at 240 from the green then let it grow some Torrey Pines US Open rough. Of course fans don’t want to watch pros hitting hybrids off the tee, but that’s the answer. Then there’s age, when you hit 50 or so your distance starts to go.. Lastly, I bet these figures are skewed as everyone using Arccos is not an average golfer. If you invest in the technology you are also investing in practice, lessons, improvement… most golfers don’t. I’d shave 10% off all these numbers at least.

      Reply

      Mike

      2 years ago

      Who the hell wants to see pros hitting hybrids or if every other tee? The USGA dropped the ball on this 30 years ago & has never managed to pick it back up. This distance debate shouldn’t even be whispered about (much less talked about)!in any circles beneath the mens pro tour

      Reply

      Julian

      2 years ago

      What most don’t realize, these idiots that make these decisions are like politicians who like the power that comes with the position.. I quit paying the membership dues because I don’t agree with them. Now if all the amateur golfers that don’t play in their tournaments would quit sending them money, they would take notice in a hurry.. Politicians, organizations, bushiness, in fact everything is about money., no money, no power.

      Reply

      GMac

      2 years ago

      What if the PGA tour says no equipment rollback? Well, then there would be no rollback. It’s not like the USGA/R&A control very many professional tournaments. The Tour may see distance reduction efforts as making viewing less attractive. The USGA welcomes comments but only ones that really matter are the Tour and Tour players. Once the USGA has some firm proposal it would be interesting to see how players would react. None of this can possibly affect the recreational golfer. They can’t roll us back.

      Reply

      Regis

      2 years ago

      Really,,? Remember the broomstick putters, the armlock putter, drivers in excess of 48 inches , Ping wedges plus the PGA tour requires all equipment conform to USGA and R,&A rules. Every couple of years or so, a player inadvertently puts a non conforming ball in play and is disqualified. Usually calls it on himself. Then fires his caddie

      Reply

      Andrew

      2 years ago

      How about someone at the USGA look at the scores? I play with guys who hit it 300+ and can’t hit a wedge or make a putt. I personally at 48 hit it farther than ever off the tee, however, my average score hasn’t changed in years. 99% of people I play with can’t break 80, regardless of their distance off the tee. Narrow the fairways, lengthen the rough and quit water greens on PGA courses and the pros scores will come down.

      Reply

      Andrew

      2 years ago

      Then you don’t play with the guys I play with. I hit it 3 bills and can hit a wedge.
      I’m begging the USGA to just limit shaft length to 43.5 inches and put a weight minimum of 80g for shafts. These rules would only affect pros though.

      Reply

      Paul

      2 years ago

      What about people who are 6’6″ and need a longer driver to play safely?

      Peter

      2 years ago

      What did the USGA say…?

      Alex

      2 years ago

      It would have been nice if they did longitudinal studies– but I agree, if you swing 90mph, you aren’t going to pick up 20 yards of distance (save for playing in drier firmer conditions) unless you were playing old clubs and balls.

      Reply

      Eric MacKinnon

      2 years ago

      Distance has gone up bc athletes are coming to golf. Overall fitness levels have improved. Equipment has improved, to be sure. The vast majority of us golfers at the rec level are chasing 200 not 300 yds. Why penalize me more? Throttle back the pro game if anything. Bifurication for the PGA.

      Reply

      don

      2 years ago

      Exactly, as basketball players got taller they scored more points, but they didn’t raise the rim. Why is golf so scared of good players playing well. If they can shoot 58 great, then we all know just how much better they are than we are. Stop tricking up the courses by killing the greens, cutting he rough so high they can’t find the ball and hurt themselves trying to hit it out. OR raise the hoop to 11 or 12′, make the football field longer etc,

      Reply

      Doug Lau

      2 years ago

      “Too much distance” is very much a competition or professional problem, strictly from certain people’s point of view. I’m by no means a traditionalist or a purist, so my perspective here may ring hollow to most, but isn’t it clear to most sports enthusiasts as a whole that flare and faster games are more in the interest of most spectators these days? Longer ball is more exciting ball, is usually faster ball. Do you think DeChambeau will stop muscling up if you tell him he has to play with wood shafts tomorrow? Should we disallow breakaway goals in hockey because some guys just site way too fast?

      Amateurs I know aren’t complaining about hitting balls too far either, they’re still looking for anything that gets them a little more. Last I checked, their problem is lack of practice, ability or arthritis. At the end, you still have to get it in the hole and even though I can drive 275-300 yds, I still have 4 others clubs that care less about distance and way more about precision. USGA better start telling putter designers to start thinking about Jello faces in the future!

      Reply

      phil

      1 year ago

      Look at what happened at St Andrews last time at the Open. distance made the Old Course a pitch n putt. I remember when pros would judge a course if they used every club in the bag during a round. Now its drive and wedge/ 9 iron, boring and predictable that scoring would be low with 64s every day whereas that was a rare occasion. Hard for me to care or watch anymore

      Reply

      Clay N.

      2 years ago

      According to the NGF, there are approximately 25,000,000 golfers in the US, and there are approximately 300 PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour players.

      The USGA is worried that some, not all, of the 300 touring professionals are hitting the ball too far, so they’re going to punish the 25,000,000.

      How far does the average member at Augusta National hit driver? Pine Valley? Your local muni? Bushwood? How far does the average female member hit driver?

      Because Tour pros are hitting it longer than ever, the USGA wants a ball that goes 10% shorter. (Or whatever their solution is.) I’m sorry, but the local senior who carries it 190 is now only going to be able to carry it 10% shorter? 171?!?

      Bifurcation, having an Elite/Tour ball for that category and leaving the existing ball for everyone else is the only logical solution.

      Otherwise last year’s Pro V1 is going to sell for $100/box.

      Reply

      Leigh Glasspell

      2 years ago

      OK so we keep lengthening golf courses to offset pros who are athletes centering their whole life around the sport. They are less than 1% of golfers.. Lengthening golf courses is expensive and worthless to the other 99% of players.. Change the ball for them and leave the rest of us alone because the data clearly shows we are not advantaged. Don’t change equipment rules because that just gives manufacturers an excuse to $ell u$ $omething we do not actually need. And while we are being sensible; let every PGA level round be partly sponsored by a GPS type unit and ban paper books and speed up the game. Change the ball the pros use to go less far and allow them the tech we use to calculate distance. We might even end up with devices that help us to read greens as a result.. Most golfers say at least once a round, after a putt, “I didn’t see that'” Knowing where to hit it and actually doing it are separate entities.. Anything that makes golf more expensive works against the sport..

      Reply

      Brad G

      2 years ago

      The Arccos date is “Total Distance” correct? Isn’t “Carry Distance” a more realistic data point to know?

      Reply

      Christopher Hensley

      2 years ago

      I’d be interested to know who makes up the two governing bodies. What might be their motivations? What do they gain or loose? Money comes to mind. Specifically, how can those who have power and influence over golf make more? It seems that all major sports have put an emphasis on better scoring and faster moving competitions, through changes in the rules. Athletes are physically bigger, stronger, and faster too. Equipment is better over time, and clearly provides advantages. Both to professionals, and to the public. Golf is a more interesting discussion, because so much more of the game is mental. We can envision the best players of the past being competitive with the current players, if all equipment was equal. So what is concerning the governing bodies to declare players are hitting “too far?” Are they concerned about course records falling? Are the courses not able to adjust to create more challenging environments? It certainly can’t be fear of too many tournament wins by modern players. The field has never been more loaded. There are so many great players competing for the same limited tournament resources. Tiger, Phil, VJ and Dustin have more than 20 wins. But so do more than 30 other past greats. I hope to hear more about this subject. It’s difficult at 65 to agree that the many changes to all our sports have been for the better.

      Reply

      Tim Bogen

      2 years ago

      Yes the golf balls ARE GOING TOO FAR. I am 69 years old and I remember the days when players were golfing at courses less than 7000 yards. Before Daley and Tiger. The top players today look like robots. There are no more stories like Hagen, Snead, Hogan, Palmer. The character of the game is not the same. The game is all about golfing corporations competing against each other to get the most business. The players themselves have become pawns. They sell out to the highest bidders and become the “BORG” of Star Trek notoriety. Half human half technology creations which only erodes the very nature of the game. Every serious golfer today wants to know what equipment the winning tour players are using. The technology, the science and the equipment overshadow the stories and the humanity of the game itself. There are companies that sell only putters that are hypertuned and engineered to standards of physics that ENHANCE PERFORMANCE. One day a golfer will hit 18 shots over 18 holes. Until then the STOCK HOLDERS WILL NOT BE SATISFIED. The great game of golf over 200 years old has really become nothing more than a PONZI SCHEME with the guys at the top becoming rich.

      Reply

      Andrew

      2 years ago

      You just went full old guy there.!

      Reply

      J-Full

      2 years ago

      Haha my thoughts exactly????????

      Paul Booij

      2 years ago

      Bryson.
      He is unique.

      Reply

      LD

      2 years ago

      This post is just ridiculous and since it’s your opinion you’re entitled to it but it’s just out of touch completely.

      Reply

      Terry

      2 years ago

      Took 24 hours to think about this, watched indy cars, “slowed them down”,nascar “slowed them down”, baseball, well every year the powers to be adjust the balls, basketball pro, has not changed very much, got 3 point line just about in the stands, tennis, just keep hitting it harder and faster, verdict out on balls,but are controlled, golf well,no more leather balls or balata balls, every company has their own chemical composition for the balls,outer cover and core, so in short every sport has been directly affected by technology and improved athletes!!, so tou want to control length, narrower fairways, longer grass,”less mowing, more sand traps, clubs have changed also, here again technology!!,But be careful the people support these courses, NOT THE PROS, the everyday person, is who so to speak keeps the lights on! Why would Nicklaus complain,,or is it because he has to move up a tee box now?,BE CAREFUL IF YOU MESS WITH ANYTHING?

      Reply

      Mike

      2 years ago

      Thanks gramps!

      Reply

      Michael Malczewski

      2 years ago

      Very interesting article and good information. As pointed out by other’s, the real problem is trying to tame distance for the tour professionals vs amateurs. Let’s face it, golf is a very hard game despite how much some of us love it and try to improve. I am all for technology that allows more people to enjoy the game and pick up the sport but understand the need to limit how much new technology benefits the pros. Not sure what the solution is. I thought I read that all newer drivers over the last several years produce virtually the same ball speed when hit in the ideal sweet spot as they have all reached their allowable limits. The advances have been to increase ball speed on mishits so an amateur is not penalized as much on a bad swing. I find it interesting that club manufactures will make several lines of irons from “super game improvement” to “players” irons but they don’t seem to take that approach with their drivers. Maybe design “super game improvement drivers” for us mortal amateurs that have less rules regulations on technology and have “tour player” drivers with more restrictive limitations? Just a thought.

      Reply

      Bob

      2 years ago

      I am 73 and retired in Mexico at sea level. Due to age and altitude have lost a lot of distance in the last 3 years. I now play the forward tees which is sometimes ladies tees if the course doesn’t have senior tees. The courses need to look at Senior Ladies tees. Mike and Del are both correct. Firstly, we get a lot of tourists who rent clubs and play the tips on the ‘resort’ course and slows everything down.
      Secondly, I am hitting driver and anywhere from 6 iron to a wedge on the Par 4s which is fun again !!! No more Driver 3wood !!

      Reply

      J-Full

      2 years ago

      I hate that people call the forward tees the “ladies tees”. It’s sexist and keeps people from playing their proper course distance. Kudos to you for not letting that stop your from playing a tee box that makes the game more enjoyable

      Reply

      Danny Jay

      2 years ago

      This is the best data by far for me and its something I think about all the time. As I reach my age of 70, I am bless to be able to drive the ball the distance I do. I tell myself to stop playing the more backwards tees and move up one box and play and enjoy the game more. I tried the speed increase concept, and I have only reach one conclusion from the time and work I put into it. I am a better ball striker by hitting it consistently and not harder or faster. So, enjoy the game for what makes it more fun and enjoyable. I am!

      Reply

      Héctor R. Fernández

      2 years ago

      Great article. Personally, I think golf course setups would take care of some of these issues at the profesional level.

      Golf equipment manufacturers are going to fight tooth and nail against the governing bodies and any changes that will hurt their bottom line.

      I play from tees that I can have fun from and score, anything over 6300 is a waste of my time and I will not entertain the idea. I agree with the report suggestion people need to move up tees.

      Have equipment improvements made a difference in the recreational game? Not much according to this data.

      So, hold on and wait before you spend another $700.00 on a driver that won’t do much for you.

      If I were to have a dollar for every recreational golfer who actually can drive the ball 300 yards I would have a hefty pocket full of cash. Perception and reality are two different things.

      I always say, if I want to have a hard time, I’ll go to work, lol

      Reply

      Loop

      2 years ago

      I think the message is pretty clear.
      The pro’s hit the ball too far.
      We amateurs do not.
      The problem.
      Limit the pro’s ball, manufacturers won’t be happy.
      Limit the amateur’s ball, we’re not happy.
      Maybe the fix is pretty clear too.
      Keep making the courses the pro’s compete on longer and tougher as required.
      That will leave the other 95% of the courses just fine for the rest of us. Then just set the ball limits to where they are now and we’re all happy.

      Reply

      Register

      2 years ago

      Part of the problem is that the older courses were designed to be played from the “white” tees or longer (say 6200 yds) To accommodate the growth of older or less athletic golfers courses retrofitted the courses by adding additional “Gold?” tees. But in many cases they don’t really add the tees to fit the design
      They just pick a spot and drop some tee markers in the ground. Tees are seldom built up or designed to factor in hazards or fairway landing areas etc. So, purely for example, if I’m dropping $400 to play Sawgrass and I get to 17, I might be better served by teeing from the drop area.. But that ain’t happening
      Many of the newer courses, especially resort courses have the shorter tee boxes factored in the design

      Reply

      Mike

      2 years ago

      Great point. At many older courses, the “up” tees are simply 20-30 yds in front of the white one while the “back” tees are just 20 yards behind them. Like some other commenters here, as I’ve gotten older I realize my “max yardage to play at” has decreased a bit. I swept my ego aside years ago.

      I was told by a course designer that if you need a 4 iron (on average) to reach the par 4’s on your course, you’re playing the wrong tees.

      Reply

      Andrew the Great!

      2 years ago

      “You probably need to move up a tee box.”

      That kinda depends on one’s objective, no? I mean, playing basketball at 8′ hoops is analogous to moving up a tee box. It *would* make the game easier, maybe more enjoyable, and more guys could then dunk.

      But I don’t think anyone recommends playing 8′ hoops for a weekly pickup game.

      I want the challenge of a longer course. I’ve played during the week, on courses virtually empty, and from the tips. For the *fun* of the challenge. (The wind also howls on the back-9, off the Caribbean coast, at Royal Isabela in Puerto Rico for example, which adds another element to the challenge.)

      Anyway, my point is, I choose a tee box that will provide me with what I consider “fun”. And part of that definition includes a “challenge”. Others may prefer, or ought, to play a closer tee box., for what *they* want from the game of golf Not I.

      FWIW, I just played my first round with a new, first-time-fitted driver, and my average distance increased by 16 yards, to 236, based upon the admittedly-limited dataset. I hit 9 of 12 fairways and 6 of 17 greens in windy conditions (17mph, gusts to 35), on the course the pros played 2 weeks ago.. The tee box was one closer than the tips, around 6700 yards.

      So maybe the distance issue has less to do with the ball, vis-a-vis the amateur golfer, and more to do with amateurs using drivers ill-suited for their swings and their games.

      Would love to see Arccos somehow gather distance data from golfers using drivers fitted specifically to them. Probably can’t be done, though.

      Reply

      birdie dancer

      2 years ago

      so what did you shoot that day Pro ? you gave all the details except the the #2 reason to play the game., shooting a score…. #1 reason being getting outside enjoying the best game ever, with your compadres .. PS i wonder what the groups backed up behind you all day thought. about all the fun you were having.

      Reply

      Deadeye

      2 years ago

      Solution: bifurcation. In the interim, I dropped my USGA membership. Too many bad decisions.

      Reply

      Héctor R. Fernández

      2 years ago

      Great article. Personally, I think golf course setups would take care of some of these issues at the profesional level.

      Golf equipment manufacturers are going to fight tooth and nail against the governing bodies and any changes that will hurt their bottom line.

      I play from tees that I can have fun from and score, anything over 6300 is a waste of my time and I will not entertain the idea. I agree with the report suggestion people need to move up tees.

      Have equipment improvements made a difference in the recreational game? Not much according to this data.

      So, hold on and wait before you spend another $700.00 on a driver that won’t do much for you.

      If I were to have a dollar for every recreational golfer who actually can drive the ball 300 yards I would have a hefty pocket full of cash. Perception and reality are two different things.

      Reply

      Chris J

      2 years ago

      Chris, thank you for a thoughtful article. Right now in golf I understand both sides of the argument and really still sit on the fence. There have been changes to football because the players get bigger, stronger, and faster every year. While I don’t like the changes I understand why they were implemented. I am older and a bit more old fashioned I suppose my paradigm influences my thinking. I am also a college baseball fan. I think the game would be more interesting if the whole lineup wasn’t a homerun threat. Again, old fashioned…… I love the game of golf and don’t want it to change but we are on a collision course with technology and ever growing physical ability . I just don’t know what to do to escape that.
      Thanks again!

      Reply

      RC

      2 years ago

      I’m moving to Albuquerque! Seriously, I’d like to see the data that the USGA is basing this on. As previously stated, there are ways to toughen up a course for a pro golf tournament. I doubt if costs are prohibitive to grow the rough for one week a year, and the PGA has the money anyway. Speed up the greens, slow down and narrow the fairways, grow out the rough, but leave us non-professionals alone!

      Reply

      Bob

      2 years ago

      Oh! the rantings of lunatics. Your Arccos data proves this non sense.
      In my opinion people want to watch pro golfers hit over 300 yards.
      On TV the screen shows this yardage. Since 1980 professional golfers are working out more and developing better course management skills.
      Majority of amateurs are buying new drivers in pursuit of a 250 yard drive.
      There are far more topics and changes to USGA rules other than ball distance.

      Reply

      BogeyProne

      2 years ago

      Love the data. I think this becomes a psychology thing. The easiest answer for everyone is we all just need to move up a tee box or two… allows manufacturers to make the same equipment, we can play what the pros play, etc. The issue is most of us are masculine morons, and don’t want our buddies to make fun of us for wanting to play the white tees. And that’s a bigger hurdle than the USGA realizes…

      That being said, how has baseball handled this? Wood/aluminum/composite bats. I coached youth baseball for years, and kids want the gloves the pros play, but they are also up on the composite bat tech. They are fine that pros don’t use them. They just want the fastest bar with the most pop.

      Remember the old “illegal” Callaway drivers and ping grooves? I remember guys wanting to use those as long as possible to give them an edge. Seems like manufacturer’s could take that marketing approach assuming the modifications are just to pro equipment?

      Love your data though. Wish the USGA and R&A considered the majority of golfers more than pros. Let the tours limit pros…

      Reply

      Will

      2 years ago

      Interesting data although some problems with your analysis. Your last bullet says the average distance is under 200 yards yet your chart clearing shows the median distance to be in the 220 range. On a data set this large median and average can be different but not by that much. Also you need to provide age data of the data set, as we know age affects distance a lot. If the average age of the data set has gotten older, or even just higher handicap because of the wave of new golfers, then that creates an unequal comparison over time. All of that nitpicking said, I agree with your assumption/observation for the average golfers. But the problem is still there with the pros, those averages over a short period of time have gone up significantly. Keep going. Let me know if I can help with the analysis.

      Reply

      Hal Smith

      2 years ago

      Just another one of the reasons I stopped paying dues to the USGA several years ago They have proven incapable of running the US Open. They don’t care about growing the game, just doing everything in their power to control it. Boycott the USGA!

      Reply

      David

      2 years ago

      The distance issue isn’t even really about the entirety of the pro players. The recent release from the USGA seemed to really focus on the top 10 to 15 players in terms of distance. That’s barely even 10% of 125 players who have regular status. Then throw in the DP tour and the guys without regular PGA tour status and the percentage is much less. I think it’s much ado about nothing, and if anything is done, it probably results in some local rule applicable only to pro events.

      Reply

      John

      2 years ago

      The USGA and R&A are not concerned with your data. These governing bodies are only concerned with what we see on television because that’s where they make a fair percentage of their money. By contracting the TV rights to the broadcast companies they can make a nice chunk of change. Currently they are worried that the tour players are going make courses look obsolete. What needs to happen? Since the governing bodies have been around forever a lawsuit is probably not the answer, but maybe eventually necessary. Maybe a more effective approach would be to get the equipment companies and the millions of golfers around the country to write or call the governing bodies and express their concerns. The proper use of social media in a case like this might be very effective.

      Reply

      Dave Richner

      2 years ago

      The distance concern by the USGA and the R&A that a small percentage of golfers are hitting the ball too far is another example of “closing the barn door after the horse has escaped”.

      Interestingly, when Mr. Nicklaus was hitting the ball longer than his competition there was not a large hue and cry. Now Jack is on board with the do as I say, not as I do/did mantra.
      .
      Maybe Jack’s era was when the ruling bodies began the distance study? They seem to have long deliberations on rule changes.

      The USGA and R&A might want to concentrate on growing the game. Simplify the rules, make the game more user friendly.

      And are they naive enough not to recognize the PGA may establish their own specifications on balls and drivers for the entertainment the public enjoys as they watch pro tournaments?

      Reply

      philip obrien

      2 years ago

      It’s not about Jack Nicklaus. Look at old Shell matches, I did. Jack v Trevino 2 of the best ever lived. 158 yd JN hit 7i, Lee hit 6i, 437yd par4, J hit driver and 7i, Lee dr and 8i 152yd. today guys hitting wedge into 470 par4s. wedges all day. golf is too ez if your wedging it. bifurcate. its too boring to watch 8is from 190 yds and wedge from 150-160. too many 63s every week while G channel oohs and aahs!

      Reply

      MOBurns92

      2 years ago

      The USGA never has cared about actual data when making their decisions. I was a dues paying USGA member for over 25 years, and a couple years ago I called it quits with them, because I feel like they’re out of touch with the “average golfer”. The final straw was when they banned “anchoring” in putting (even though I never anchored), which seemed like a knee-jerk reaction to appease a small group of golf analysts & tour pros, with no consideration for how it affected the golfing masses.

      Golf is not “broken” just because highly trained, and highly specialized athletes on tour are hitting the ball further today than they did 20 years ago. Leave it alone.

      Reply

      Christopher

      2 years ago

      If anything is to be done the governing bodies should make whatever parameters on the golf ball or equipment, that are in place now, the final benchmark or standard. Nothing can exceed whatever is the technological and physical limitations of today. I keep hearing that they have just about reached the physical limitations if the driver already.

      Real change:
      1) make and divot or man made ground alteration (ground under repair)
      2) allow a drop with a stroke penalty instead of out of bounds re-tee
      3) In football you have youth football, high school footballs, college football, and the NFL football. All are different sizes appropriate to the skill level. The game is still played by the same rules and field dimensions. The only thing different are the hash marks, play clock, and size football for each level played. MAKE A TOURNAMENT GOLF BALL!

      Reply

      Patrick

      2 years ago

      Making a tournament ball would only create two classes in golf which are very distinct. At what level would we employ this? Only pro? What do you do with open tournaments? What about high school or college golf? What about youth tournaments? If you are a good youth golfer you would only play tournament equipment but if this is not required in youth tournaments you would always be at a disadvantage. The swing in golf would become tailored to the tournament ball and might make the body type and swing type which is successful even more narrow. Will you have tournament driving range balls at courses? Who makes them and what does it mean for cost? Is it about spin or distance or both? The golf ball is like no other ball in a sport with a ball. It is like comparing apples to rocks. The USGA has to understand that athletes are getting better as are the methods by which they use. The equipment has gotten better and golfers and the teaching industry is getting better at knowing how to use these things. No one wants to watch guys hit it 275 off the tee.

      Reply

      John Dege

      2 years ago

      I watched the USGA adn R&A directors discuss the distance issue and your data is not what concerns the USGA and RA on distance. They said their basis was the distance of the average long distance of the top (5%?) pros that continues to increase. They wondered also if they should relax some other standards that would benefit the average golfer for hitting the ball straighter.

      Reply

      John

      2 years ago

      “posting scores that appear to make iconic venues obsolete”

      Golf equipment has changed, the ball has changed, the clubs have changed, the modern professional golfer has changed (all modern athletes have). Iconic venues have not.

      Can we expect to “modernize” the game and some how change nothing?

      Reply

      Mike D

      2 years ago

      Nice summary of real golfers on real courses –
      60% of us do not hit the ball over 240 yards and those same people (me included) should move up a tee box. I’ve stopped playing from tees over 6,000 yds and when I have in the recent past, my scores are at least 5 shots higher.
      Slow play? Playing from the wrong tees.
      Slow Play? Not taking enough club (over estimating your distance w each club)
      Interesting with so many ARCCOS data points from average golfers – are they interpreting their data and moving up a tee or making other adjustments that improve scores or increase enjoyment?

      I’ve found that as an aging golfer who hasn’t the time for practice or lots or rounds, that golf is still fun from shorter tees like 5,800 yds – different obstacles come into play off those tee boxes, just like playing from the tips.

      If we’re smart, we’ll use the data to our advantage and have a little more fun on the course.

      Reply

      Art

      2 years ago

      I can’t imagine how the powers that be think they can throttle the pros without harming amateur players. Bifurcation.

      Reply

      Art

      2 years ago

      I can’t imagine how the powers that be will change this without bifurcation.

      Reply

      Tom

      2 years ago

      My thinking if they reduce the COR limits the 105 + swingers would loose much more yardage vs the average player. The gap in overall distance would be reduced. More Jacks and Arnold’s era vs. tigers . Jack has always complained about the new ball. As far as hurting the amateur, they would loose very little compared to the pros.

      Reply

      Mike

      2 years ago

      Interesting article, thanks. Goes to show that a number of folks continue to play a tee box too long. I see it all the time at my course where the tees play 5700, 6200, 6600, 6800, & 7,000 yds. If I had a buck for every time some 25 index insisted on playing at 6500 yds (instead of playing w/ me at 6200) I’d be rich. And don’t even get me started at the “bogey level” golfers playing at 6800 yards. I get it, you paid your money to play there but all you’re doing is slowing the entire track down. Guess it’s still all about the ego for some people.

      Reply

      Andy

      2 years ago

      Isn’t it the courses fault that allows 380-400yd drives and not the golfer of the club manufacturer?

      Many courses started redesigning to lengthen holes and widen fairways. I know of one case here in the UK where Golf England allegedly told a club designing a new course that they would not gain any major competitions if they did not have at least one hole over 600 yds? Why?

      Some say Links golf is the only true golf. The links courses I know rarely give the opportunity to hit 350yds plus. They use narrow fairways and the local terrain to make the game dependent on skill not strength.

      Reply

      GLENN

      2 years ago

      There are some easy fixes for professional distance. Grow the rough deeper, narrower the fairways and out of bounds between fairways.

      Reply

      Steve S

      2 years ago

      Have you(or Arccos) sent this info to all the manufacturers, USGA and R&A? If not you should and you should send it once a week for the next year. If they change the rules and manufacturer agree to it, I’ll never buy a new driver again. I’m sure the value of older drivers will skyrocket. PXG here I come!

      Reply

      Jimmy Hopson

      2 years ago

      Vert interesting article. I would like to see a chart that shows what length course you should play based on your carry distance.. Just like you did for the carry distance of 200 – 219 yards.

      Reply

      Thomas moynihan

      2 years ago

      Most of the gains in distance over the last 20 years have favored the player that swings 105 mph + . The yd per mph is higher for faster swing speeds . Back when the COR was .78 or so , a drive that was 20 to 30 yards farther was normal . Now’s it’s 70 to 100 with .83 .

      Reply

      Del

      2 years ago

      In order to get people to “move up” a tee the language needs to change. At all the clubs I have played at there are the “members” tees, “seniors” tees and “ladies” tees. All my buddies joke on the person that should “move up a tee” since they can’t regularly hit it over 210 yards but when I make the statement that people should base tee selection on “handicap vs. gender/age” I get blank stares.

      Reply

      Daniel C.

      2 years ago

      Firstly, Arccos is changing the way amateurs play golf and develop. I was watching Greg Norman vs Nick Faldo in the ‘96 Masters on YouTube, which showed the stat that Norman was averaging 287 in driving distance that tournament. 25 years ago at 287 still falls in the top 2% among amateurs, which tells you balls and equipment have not evolved past swing mechanics.

      Reply

      albatrossx3

      2 years ago

      Arccos data is skewed toward the recreational player, not the tour player where the distance issue is a problem. The USGA’s solution is logical for a change, reign in the distance standard by raising the test velocity and remove the rules that would allow balls to be engineered so that the average player LOSES NOTHING.. We as a game can not keep expanding the length of courses real estate is too expensive, growing the rough for one week is not sustainable in water and chemicals,. If you want golf to grow, you have to attract people who can not afford 500 buck green fees, and to do so you need to control costs, and the best way is control the ball. There are other things that should be done, the Players showed us that a course with wetter fairways is still a challenge, you can firm up the greens water the fairways and lengthen the grass so the ball does not roll 50 60 yards,

      Reply

      Daniel C.

      2 years ago

      I think there’s some recency bias in ALBATROSSX3 comments here between the Players and API tournaments.

      Reply

      Andrew the Great!

      2 years ago

      Yeah, imagine what OUR games would look like if WE got 50-60 yard rolls off the tee! Then again, imagine what our games would look like if we had galleries to bounce our errant shots off so they don’t get lost or dive deeper into the weeds.

      Here in Puerto Rico I’ve had drives hit the relatively soft turf and bounce back *toward* me. Kills my driving distance stats. The only time I got good roll down here was during the drought of 2015. Look at these fairways:

      https://www.dropbox.com/s/28wkc6ofh52reiu/El%20Conquistador%20August%202015.jpg?dl=0

      Reply

      Billy

      2 years ago

      I teach golf, I’ve known personally more than a few guys that made it on tour. I’ve asked several at different times in life if the golf ball tour pros get is supped up. They all reapplied no, it’s just fresh from the factory… when I asked the second question, how can I get golf balls fresh from the factory. I got the same answer … You Can’t…

      Brad Baumann

      2 years ago

      This distance issue is not an issue for the many, only the few. Coming out of the surge that the game has just picked up through the pandemic, the governing bodies need to be very careful and not lose just as many or more players as they just gained by worrying about this and flattening this curve we have going.

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