Shot Scope Case Study: Distribution of Driver Distance
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Shot Scope Case Study: Distribution of Driver Distance

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Shot Scope Case Study: Distribution of Driver Distance

Distribution of Driver Distance – Key Takeaways

  • Driving distance drops by 47 yards when comparing the youngest golfer to the oldest
  • From 2018 – 2019 driving average hasn’t changed
  • Is driving distance really an issue?

Improved Performance Through Data

Big data is a powerful tool. Not only does it allow golfers to assess individual parts of the game but it provides an opportunity to examine performance from a variety of perspectives.

Golf stat tracking and performance management companies like Shot Scope help golfers better understand their on-course performance. However, by aggregating data from golfers around the world, we get a more complete picture of the realities of amateur performance.

So, as we dive into a relatively straightforward topic, think about how far you hit the ball. Has your distance improved with age? Do you think handicap affects distance?

Distribution Of Driving Distances

Observations

  • The majority of golfers average between 200 and 224 yards off the tee.
  • Only 4% of golfers drive the ball over 300 yards.
  • The second highest percentage of golfers drive the ball between 225 and 249 on average.

The majority of golfers drive the ball 200 – 224 yards on average with only 4% of golfers hitting it over 300 yards. It begs the question that rolling the ball back should only be targeted to the PGA Tour and not the amateur game?

Driver Performance Average By Handicap

Observations

  • Across all handicaps, the driving distance has remained stagnant on average.
  • Golfers with handicaps from 10 – 17 have gained 1.2 yards on average from 2018 – 2019
  • The 18 – 28 handicaps lost 0.8 yards off the tee from 2018 – 2019

Golfers only lost 0.1 of a yard from 2018 – 2019 and, let’s face it, that’s no change at all. You have to remember that we don’t know what driver these golfers are using, what model, loft and so on. These variables are something to consider as you wont see that much of a difference in distance in drivers that are 1-5 years old. However, if the golfer plays a wooden driver or a driver thats 10-15 years old you will see an increase in distance with a newer model driver.

Driver Performance Average Distance By Age

Observations

  • Theres close to a 30 yard difference for golfers between the ages of 30 and 60 in diving distance.
  • Comparing the youngest golfer to the oldest, there is a 47 yard difference in drive distance.

No real shocker here. The older you get, the shorter you hit the ball and higher your handicap increases on average.

Key Takeaways

In the amateur world, the majority of golfers drive the ball between 200 and 249 yards on average. This subset of data backs up the theory that driving distance isn’t an issue in the golf amateur world. In the professional world the total driving distance after roll is 296.4 based on 2020 stats. Is that distance too far to roll the ball back?

Getting older is inevitable. It’s true that the older you get the higher your handicap becomes. Now when it comes to driving distance, ego plays a big factor. Golfers tend to lie about how far they hit the ball. Shot Scopes data suggest that some golfers might be telling a few porkies about how far they hit the ball to their friends.

How Do You Compare?

Do you score better or worse than the Shot Scope database averages?

What’s your biggest takeaway? Where is there room for improvement in your game?

Post a comment below!

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      Michael T O'Reilly

      9 months ago

      Great article. I’m the anomaly to this article I’m 54, 12 hcp and on the golf course I average just under 300 yards. I throw the curve off because I train as a long drive hitter. I compete around the US, and soon the world.

      Here’s the crappy part… I only finished 8th in the world this year… That’s how long folks are getting these days.

      Reply

      Rich Mendoker

      3 years ago

      Part of the problem is that 80% of equipment reviews are geared by guys who swing a driver at 12OMPH. The 85 to 100 MPH consumer is lead off to the wrong aisle when making a purchase.

      Reply

      OttoMatic70

      3 years ago

      Age 50, not a Shot Scope user. I’m using a Garmin GPS on the course, and Foresight GC2 at work (I’m a club fitter for a large national retail golf chain). Average driver: 265 carry/ 290 total. Finding 63% of fairways

      Reply

      Ian

      3 years ago

      31% of golfers average 250+? Really? Or just the uber-keener 15% who invest in ShotScope?

      I walk on as a single all the time – have been paired with hundreds of random golfers – and not one of them averaged 250+ this year for the round.

      I think the key takeaway from the stagnation of ‘average’ driving distances over the years is the fallacy of ‘game improvement’ equipment for average golfers. Clearly, equipment advances have helped good ballstrikers, but they appear to have done nothing for the average duffer.

      The real breakthrough in average golf performance will happen when somebody comes up with golf instruction that quickly and reliably helps average people make ‘pro impact’.

      Reply

      Ben

      2 years ago

      This happens to me all the time. I hit ball around 250 -260 , sea level Florida, hit and stick type fairways.. I almost always outdrive playing partners by 30 – 50 yards. I am also hard to beat unless you count on shooting under par that day..

      It’s not many holes into a round that I start to hear the player they saw last week, or what green Dustin Johnson drove at the weekend and how far the pros hit the ball etc. It’s like they weirdly ignore their distance by using PGA Tour golfers to tell me how short I am……

      A big part of golf is realizing that 99% of people are full of s#&t when it comes to golf and you take it all in then forget it immediately.. Very few golfers have properly measured their drives or kept a score properly for 18 holes. There’s a big difference between drinking some beers and hitting your driver for distance and getting that one shot away and playing a round of competitive golf, under the rules and hitting driver 250 yards when it absolutely matters.

      Reply

      ryebread

      3 years ago

      When you read this data, take it with a grain of salt. It is heavily skewed towards better golfers who have bought a shot tracking solution to help them better their games.

      The average weekend golfer is far “worse” than this pool. That’s not meant as snobbery. That’s meant to reflect that these stats are based on people who take the game more seriously.

      Reply

      J Thorpe

      3 years ago

      I am 68, former pro football linebacker, I am physically very strong upper body, arms and legs based on prior life. However, I have an orthopedic surgeon that knows me on a first name basis to keep my knees and shoulders running smoothly. I was blessed a couple years ago to have been gifted a launch monitor that can be easily used on the range to capture swing speed and ball speed for all my clubs.
      Recently, I went through a driver fitting which has improved my swing speed from 87 to 102 mph. The fitter has put me into a “senior flex 45 gram shaft”, 46 inches, midsized grip with a Cobra head. In addition, I have taken a few lessons that changed my grip and attempt to emulate the Clay Ballard method to get me on the inside. Based on the study outlined on https://www.tutelman.com/golf/clubs/Mike1.php#ballspeed, and my captured launch monitor stats my distance per driver averages 249, as I do not swing hard just better. With data from the monitor, I am able to factor in my average fade to hit fairways consistently.
      I play the shorter senior tees as my endurance is not what it once was and my pride has fallen to an old man level. Golf is a lifelong activity that should be enjoyed one shot at a time with 30 seconds or so to get over the previous result and move on.

      Thanks to the young ones at MyGolfSpy for their ongoing efforts and interesting postings.

      Reply

      JasonA

      3 years ago

      Is the drop off due to purely to “Age” or is “Generation” a factor. Younger golfers at all levels are growing up with an even larger premium on distance – I’d expect more of today’s youth to maintain higher % of ball-speed as they get older.

      Reply

      Tap In

      3 years ago

      I am 44 and a Shot Scope user and my P.Agv is 260yds for driver. However, only 23% of those find the fairway, so I rarely play driver. Instead, my 3w P.Avg is 250 but 50% find the fairway, the misses are just off a little and still playable. So I would much rather give up 10 yds and play that. Many people would do well the keep the “boom stick” in the bag and use the club that can find the fairway. You may even hit it as far or farther than your driver.

      Reply

      Thomas Metcalfe

      3 years ago

      I’m 60, have a handicap of 5 and average 240 to 250 yards off the tee. Depending on season, weather and course conditions this number can go up or down a bit. I haven’t lost much distance over the last 5 years and was never much longer. I’ve worked hard on technique over the last 5 – 10 years and have really seen a positive impact of driver and ball I’m fairly accurate off the tee. I’ve never been a thrasher though.

      Reply

      Rappers

      3 years ago

      I am 62 and a 5 handicapper. Never been long off the tee, but I would guess I’m hitting about the same distance when I was half my age thanks to technology.
      There are plenty of golfers at my club who bomb it past me, but I’m still giving them shots.
      I don’t have any hang ups about distance. That said, I’m now lifting my left heel off the ground to help improve shoulder turn. I do find in the winter months courses play very long for my handicap.

      Reply

      Bob

      3 years ago

      I turned 33 this year and decided to pick up golf again after not playing since 18…things have changed to say the least since then and I had to relearn quite a bit. That said YouTube is a wonderful tool to learn with and I’m getting better by the day. Consistency is my downfall still but I’m improving with time but there’s plenty left to be done. That said I’m about a 15 index, which sucks for what I know I’m capable of. The last time I used a launch monitor (GC 2) my average swing speed was 117. My longest of the tee this year was 331 (GPS tracked) and I average 285-300 total because I put a lot of backspin on my drives (something to work on). Now if I could just stop 3-putting….

      Reply

      mackdaddy9

      3 years ago

      cool info thanks

      Reply

      Will Dunlavy

      3 years ago

      I am 65 and have a 1 handicap, (bounce between .4 and 2.4) I have had a knee replacement (skiing) and also 6 fused vertebrae and a year ago was in the bottom tier with an average of 205 yards on a drive and a 8 handicap. I changed drivers, balls, lost weight, got in shape, worked on strengthening my hands arms and legs. Watched video’s on changing my turn, and went back to work on my game. Shorten my backswing, closed my stance, moved my hand position and golfed or did range work every day. Results, I got to a low of +.7 and now am a solid 1 hdcp. I am averaging 255 yards off the tie and hitting over 80 of fairways. Playing Ping driver, Mizuno irons, Taylor Made hybrids and Cleveland wedges. I have found that the BRXS ball plays the best but a close second is a surprise the Maxfli Tour ball. My third favorite has become the Taylor Made Tour Response when I am playing on firmer conditions and want to play longer rolls and nothing will spot on the greens of cement.

      Reply

      Ctkid

      3 years ago

      I’m 61 years old. I’ve seen a sharp decline in past 2 years, yet I am blessed that I can still move it ( 255 yds) in the air. I am looking at different driver shafts to help get back 5-15 yds. I was considered long hitter since my youth, however I’m a 0 hncp and play in Sr tournaments within the state. I’m thinking of using weights to get more yards. Would like to know Bryson,’s workout routine and adapt some of it.

      Reply

      Tom Kelly

      3 years ago

      I’m 76 years old, have been playing golf for close to 70 years. I played major college golf, had a plus index, was a two at 55. The key thing in all this talk about age and distance is clubhead speed. I first had a real accurate measurement in 1987. With a 43.5″ Dynamic steel shaft and a McGregor head I was between 106 and 110 mph. At 65 the speed, with a 45″ new Titleist driver was just over 100 mph. Today at 76 with a 45″ Titleist TS3 the speed is around 94 mph.

      Reply

      Alan

      3 years ago

      I’m 63 last year I was a 14 HC at my home course. The stats line up with mine at home. Take me to other courses it changes. Will say have broken 80 more times the last two years than ever. It’s consisentsey consisentsey. Great article

      Reply

      JK

      3 years ago

      4.7 handicap and 59 years old, in addition to work and golf do yoga, workout, bike and ski. Playing yesterday averaged 275.5 yds (Garmin watch) from tee. After watching Brian Gay (old PGA guy) drive tried on range to mentally focus on turning torso and shoulders fast on down swing – a real success. However o course now need to work on not turning so fast on approach shots.. this is challenge for me

      Reply

      Lou

      3 years ago

      I read the stats and firmly fit into the 13% category of people who drive it under 200 yards. I’m 81 with an index of 13.7. I was on my University’s golf team, hit it a long way and played every event. Age and health takes a toll. Because I hit the ball so short maybe I should pack it in. It seems it’s only a game for long hitters now. MGS isn’t interested in guys who are older, hit it short and can’t break 80 any more.

      Reply

      Rocky walker

      3 years ago

      Lou,
      Don’t give up, enjoy the game now. Play the forward tees and enjoy being out and playing, who cares what tees you play from.

      Reply

      Steve

      3 years ago

      Hey Lou, I’m with Rocky. My Dad’s 86 and he plays from the Ladies tees when we play. He has a blast. Nothing better than the outdoors with a putter in hand. Enjoy young man.

      Reply

      Meg Watson

      3 years ago

      I am a 60yo female. Is this data for all male golfers??? My drives average between 195-215. I am a 6 hdcp.

      Reply

      bill

      3 years ago

      It is, and it isn’t. I am an 8-10hcp, drive the ball on the plus side of the scale (280-310). Problem is that consistency is a factor. Some days I hit it in play, get close enough to the hole to convert, and can get some low scores. Other days, Tee shot are wild, or wedges are off, and score jumps considerably. Playing shorter yardages don’t always make a difference, especially if it forces me into hitting 3wood off the tee, my least reliable club. Tee box selected needs to be a balanced decision based on your realistic ability to play that course. If the shorter distance makes sense because you don’t hit it far, do it. If longer tee box allows you to stretch your legs, do that. If you are a 28 hcp, thinking of playing the back tees… don’t do that!

      Reply

      leftienige

      3 years ago

      Hi,Bill..Like.you,my.3-wood.is.not..long,or.accurate.anymore
      .I’ve.been.hanging.onto.it.out.of.mentality.(fo.the.good,old.days)
      Try.a.new.4-,5-,or7-wood,much.better.
      Cheers,Nige.

      Reply

      BF

      3 years ago

      Your proposal is a little short sighted. I’m a 60 yo 9 to 10 handicap. By your logic I would be playing tees too long for me.

      Reply

      Brian

      3 years ago

      At 68 yrs still hitting it 225-240. That’s a loss of 20 yards since I was 38 years old. Equipment is getting better, so I could say that had we the same equipment back then the loss is more. BUT the game has always been about getting the ball in hole. Golf is about hitting it straighter and smarter. My handicap is 8 (with this old body) whereas it was 5 in my prime. Switched to single plane ala Moe Norman and will not go back to conventional 2 plane swing. Yes, it takes a strong ego to lose distance and mental flexibility to play one’s best. I think most people don’t realize that their frustrations would disappear if they hit the ball straight. Sometime ago it was promoted that distance was the initial goal and direction could be refined later. That took golfers down the wrong path.

      Reply

      GolferDave

      3 years ago

      I am 69 and finally learning how to hit a straight ball… have lost yardage off the tee but hit the fairway consistently, 230 yard straight and consistent is way better than 275 with big hook. My fairway shots have improved immensely since picking up 3 4 and 5 hybrids for consistent 195, 180 and 165 from the middle of said fairways. Handicap index going down nicely and look forward to getting back to an 8 as I was in my prime.

      Reply

      Ray L.

      3 years ago

      I have found that 99 percent of the time when a person says “I hit it XXX yards off the tee only one out of 5-6 of their drives is in the fairway. It doesn’t matter how far you think you hit the ball- how far do you hit it accurately. ?

      Reply

      Gordon Stephen

      3 years ago

      I turned 70 this year and switched to Ping SR shafts on my driver. Gained 10 yards. Also changed to new Titleist Tour Speed ball and gained 15 yards of carry. I recommend you work with a great fitter to develop a driver and ball package for you.

      Reply

      Larry

      3 years ago

      If you wanna make some extra money just find “that guy” who says he chit it 300. Get out the range finders and collect the money.

      Reply

      Jimmy

      3 years ago

      I’m 40, 4 hdcp, hit it 245-250 carry, which can be anywhere between 245 and 275 total distance. I swing hard at my driver only once or twice a round. More people need to do this.

      Reply

      Clintwc

      3 years ago

      This is a big part of the pace of play issue.
      If your shooting in the 70’s your playing the correct tees. I suggest play these yardages to shoot in the 70’s
      5-9 handicap play 6,500y or less
      10-17 handicap play 6,200y or less
      18-28 handicap play 5,900y or less
      Wish tee makers had handicap ranges on them.
      Thanks just venting.

      Reply

      Sandy

      3 years ago

      Your is possessive, as in your clubs or your bag. You’re is a contraction of you are, as in you’re playing the wrong tees or you’re shooting in the 70’s.
      Wrong usage drives me nuts!
      Thanks, just venting.

      Reply

      Bruce

      3 years ago

      At age 73, my driving matches the stats. So, where do I need to improve? Second shots to the green. If I hit more greens in regulation, I stand a better chance for par…

      Reply

      Graham

      3 years ago

      Using shotscope myself, I know that my P.Avg for driver is 264yds. Considering my HI is 19.2, that tells me I need to do some serious work on my short game!

      Reply

      David W

      3 years ago

      I can tell you my best distance was in my mid 30’s but I wasn’t very serious about the game (started in my late 20’s just to hang out and drink) and I wasn’t very accurate. I was working out a lot then trying to keep my 20’s body and I was actually in better shape than my 20’s. If you add in consistency with length it would be my mid 40’s because I took an interest in really learning to play and did golf specific workouts. Right now I’m coming off of a reattached bicep one spring (4 month recovery and then a few more getting my strength back), playing with an arthritic hip the next season, and then a hip replacement the following winter (last year) so my distance is at an all time low (51 years old).

      Reply

      Rick Sorenson

      3 years ago

      I am 75 and hit the ball between 240 -and 260.

      Reply

      Alex

      3 years ago

      I’d be curious if the single digit to scratch handicaps could be broken out further. (e.g., 0-5 vs. 6-9) I am hanging onto a 9 despite lower than avg. driving distance for a single– probably at 225 -230 on dry conditions in the summer, about 15-20 yards lower when it rains in the Pacific NW (but the greens are softer). .

      Reply

      Wylie T

      3 years ago

      I have a friend, who at age 64-68, hit his longest drives. He played high school and college golf so his technique was good and/or improving. When he was 64 he bought a new driver that gave him an instant 20-30 more yards.. If I am correct he was hitting it around 260-280 on average… with a few 300 yarders thrown in. He was outdriving single-digit friends a bit younger than him by 25-45 yards.

      Reply

      Mark

      3 years ago

      C’mon guys. Just because more (32%) hit in the 200-224 range than any other range doesn’t mean a majority of golfers do that. A MAJORITY (68%) are in some other category.

      Reply

      Troy

      3 years ago

      Drove the ball the farthest from age 45-52, mainly due to being in better shape and working out on a consistent basis. Since I’ve not been as consistent working out, mainly weight lifting, I’ve lost on average 10-15 yards per drive and lost a club on all my irons. Age is definitely a factor, but keeping yourself in shape can help slow the yardage loss issues.

      Reply

      Mike

      3 years ago

      38 YO, 24 HCP driving it like a sub 9 (245 avg) 65% fairways hit, GIR? 10 %, LOL. Just goes to show distance doesn’t matter if the rest of your game sucks.

      Reply

      Simms

      3 years ago

      AS you age the best advice I ever had was do not chase distance but maintain the swing that got you where you are and work on your short game…. To many older guys I know end up trying so hard with the driver they loose any quality they had with the rest of their game…. Trying to hit that tee shot farther ends up making you trying to hit that 7 iron farther etc. Pitching one in for a birdie from 100 yards beats a 300 yard drive day in and day out.

      Reply

      MattSB

      3 years ago

      Just as another data point, according to my Arccos data, my Smart distance for my driver is 249yds. I’m a 67-year-old 2 handicap. Yes, it frequently costs me money.

      Reply

      Mike

      3 years ago

      I am 67 years older and play off scratch. I have lost an average of 5 yards each of the past 5-7 years and now drive the ball on average in the 225 yard range at sea level , so I am below my handicap average and above me age average.

      Reply

      Harlan Horvath

      3 years ago

      Whenever someone tells me how far they drive it, I automatically subtract 25 yards. I think alot of people aren’t outright lying, but remembering the perfect drive that was downhill, downwind and got a great rollout. You know, that drive they hit 1% of the time. Yeah it’s very humbling to admit you drive it 230 on average, but golf is a hard game–especially if you play it once or twice a month. I don’t care what anyone says, a straight 250 yard drive is very solid for your typical amateur.

      Reply

      don jones

      3 years ago

      I agree with your opening statement. It’s called 19th hole dreaming. Not sure where these guys got their data but I don’t see these distances. as averages. Yes, maybe a couple times a round.

      Reply

      Jim Cauzillo

      3 years ago

      Well I am pleased to see that I am keeping up, “On Paper” with GenY and Gen Z. But when I am on the tee with these kidz, I am 20-30 yrds short.

      Reply

      DaveyD

      3 years ago

      Regarding the age breakout of the averages, it would be very helpful to post the data distribution histograms or, at least, the standard deviations of the data that those averages are derived from.

      Reply

      Robert

      3 years ago

      As a 61 year old 17 HC, I driver it about 8-10 yards shorter than my HC range, but right on average with my age range, although my HC is 2-3 strokes higher than my age range.

      Reply

      Nathan Jaworski

      3 years ago

      Is the driving distance based on average drive or a well struck drive? I’ve hit the ball anywhere from 125 yards with my driver to 285 yards this year. My standard is 235 to 260 (no wind or elevation help) at sea level.

      Reply

      Rappers

      3 years ago

      I am very sure it would be based on your average drive. We can all hit a long way downhill, downwind and when the ground is firm.

      I would guess I drive an average of 240-250 yds in summer conditions. In winter you can take off 10 percent in distance.

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