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« LPGA Driving Comes Long Way | Main | Finchem Is Talking Bunkum...!? »

Azinger On Honda Telecast

Paul Azinger was interviewed after Saturday's third round:

JIMMY ROBERTS: Well you see it from the booth, but what about being out here on the ground? I know it's not like you went away completely but to be out here on the ground and see these guys hitting 400-yard drives, playing the game like this, how different is it for you?

PAUL AZINGER: I think on average I'm probably not that much different than I was when I was playing my best, personally. But you see...I think technology, in a lot of ways, minimizes the talent of the guys who are bombing it, because they are really, really good. But somehow the press wants to make them out to be just guys that can bomb it. And I think it minimizes their talent. Which is one of the drawbacks of the technology issue. But it's just a reality, you know, whoever needed to control that let it get away and it's unfortunate. But I don't know how you dial back the clock, Jimmy. We're stuck with it.

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Reader Comments (18)

The good thing is that everything is digital today. Nothing ever has to get dialed back anymore, you just reset it.
03.11.2006 | Unregistered CommenterSean Murphy
I'm certainly no engineer, but I have to agree with Sean. Roc can take all those little numbers and symbols that fly thru the air in his commercial with Tiger, and create a core that just doesn't fly so far. Will I -- a maybe better than average joe (5 handicap) -- not hit it as far? Absolutely. But neither will Tiger and the other bombers. . . and the game will be better off.
03.12.2006 | Unregistered CommenterSmolmania
Smols you will not lose any distance what so ever. And I'm not some magic jeanie from some beer bottle. The "QUE-Balls" that are illegal in my opinion, would get softer. Right now Smols if you are hitting one of these Que Balls you are as short as can be. These hard cores that can't be compressed by your swing speed and a majority of players on the PGA Tour are worthless with regard to distance, becaues they don't work for us, just a handful of players can get these balls to compress, and thus are seeing the huge exponitial gain in bionic yards covered through the air. By allowing these "Super Hard Core Golf Balls" to come out onto the PGA Tour the USGA (usually something goofy again) has cut the field from 156 players having a chance to win to just about 5 or 6 players. When these "Hard Core Balls" were rushed in, Integrity was ushered out!
03.12.2006 | Unregistered CommenterSean Murphy
First cogent question Jimmy's asked in a decade. Wonder who fed him it?
03.12.2006 | Unregistered CommenterReverendTMac
Here's an interesting statistic, forgive me if it's been talked about a lot before:

The difference between the Longest and Shortest average drivers over the years. As of now, the driving distance leader, Bubba, is averaging 320, Brad Faxon, I guess he's the driving distance loser? Anyway, he's averaging 260. Obviously it's early, but last year the difference was the same at the end of the year: Scott hend 320, Corey Pavin 260. The difference is 60 yards. In 1980, which is as far back as seems to go, Dan Pohl was leading with 275, the shortest hitter was averaging 240, making only a 35 yard difference.

Interesting. I guess the question should be, is there a gap where there's suddenly a big difference between average yardages? So far this year, over the 60 yard window of driving distances, there are 125 guys in the lower half, and 66 in the upper half.
03.12.2006 | Unregistered CommenterJosh Hoisington
There you go Geoff, Josh has discovered what I was willing to bet on the "Where is the Balance" posts. I was trying to help Crankpot and Answer see that the equipment can be traced to the source of the exponitial differences that we are witnessing today. I even wagered Crankpot, to pick his 10 favorite players today, because he mande the statement that there are much better, stronger players on the PGA Tour today than Daly was 10 years ago.

Josh, the driving disparity between Daly and the shortest player in 1991 was what??? I'm picking 1991 because that year Daly won the PGA Championship, and dwarfed Kenny Knox on Sunday at Crooked Stick by cutting doglegs with his monsterous drives. What was the driving disparity between Daly and the shortest hitter that year on the PGA Tour. As I said in the Balance Posts it couldn't have been more than 30 yards difference.

The equipment (Hard Core Golf Balls) has skewed in favor of those that didn't need any favors!
03.12.2006 | Unregistered CommenterSean Murphy
It was a bit more, 48.1 yards to be exact.
In any case, I think ratios would make a better comparison than distances.

1 John Daly 288.9
189 Scott Verplank 240.8

03.12.2006 | Unregistered CommenterGeorgeM
Great point George, but I would like to point out one thing. Scott Verplank played injured for a couple of years there, he had a significant elbow injury, it went on for a few years. I think he only made like two cuts out of something like 28 starts in 1994. My memory is not all that great, but somewhere in there he couldn't get a drive in the fairway, or hit it anywhere, because of that injury. So it would not be a great comparison to use him.

But, yes ratio's are probably better.
03.13.2006 | Unregistered CommenterSean Murphy

If in addition to dropping the player in last, we also dorp the one in first (consider them outliers), the 1991 difference drops frpom 48.1 to 34.9 yards.

For 2005 it is 50.4

Still, ratios would be more indicative.

1 John Daly 288.9
2 Greg Norman 282.3

188 Morris Hatalsky 247.4
189 Scott Verplank 240.8

1 Scott Hend 318.9
2 Tiger Woods 316.1

201 Jeff Hart 265.7
202 Corey Pavin 258.7
03.13.2006 | Unregistered CommenterGeorgeM
Either its the "Equipment" or it's "Steriods", averages don't lie. There is something today that is "DOUBLING" the "DISPARITY", what is it????Something has created a larger gap over the years. So what are they going to say now. Some players have gotten stronger, while other players have gotten weaker???
03.13.2006 | Unregistered CommenterSean Murphy

With all due respect, I think you may be missing something in your view here. Isn't it also possible that the strongest players are those who are (choose as many options as you want):
A. Stronger
B. Smarter
C. More committed
D. Better coached/managed
E. Better able to match equipment to body mechanics

Note that I am essentially dropping equipment out of the equation. At best, the top distance drivers are best matching their swing mechanics and physics to their equipment. Evidence - Tiger experimenting with different shaft/clubhead combinations recently.

As a scientist, I can see a Darwinian aspect to the increase in disparity. The strong get stronger. I don't think it's that the weak are getting weaker. That argument doesn't wash. If it did, we'd see the shorter driving distances going down.

And for those Darwin-haters out there, I'm not saying it's the answer. Look at the shorter hitters out there who have been winning in recent times. Chicks may dig the long ball, but you still have to put the ball in the cup in the fewest strokes. (Yes, I'm an unabashed Funk-lover!)
03.13.2006 | Unregistered CommenterPete the Luddite
Didn't realize that we were getting down to theories of evolution on this site. As a fellow Funk lover, I enjoyed watching Luke Donald get outdriven by Billy Mayfair yesterday, and yet kicking his butt. Nonetheless, the fact of the matter is that the game isn't as enjoyable (at least for me) when it becomes a battle of killing the driver as far down the hole as possible, and then hitting some type of lofted wedge onto the green. Mirasol did not permit that type of play -- probably due to the severity of the greens, which was certainly fun to see -- but the majority of overmatched courses that the Tour visits on a weekly basis certainly do.
03.13.2006 | Unregistered CommenterSmolmania
If your examples were all true, then the gap between disparity should be "less" today not more. If the Tour has evolved as you suggest, then the average of distance that players drive the ball should be increased across the board, then most players should be stronger, all of them are smarter because they all have access to launch monitors, their all certainly more committed with purses around 5 million, and technique has become second nature, with a few odd examples (jim furyk) but Jimmy's obviously works. Point being that swings are pretty close to text book swings all the way down the range, unlike 15 years ago.

So, with all of your examples being true, and in my opinion I am totally agreeing with you. Why has the disparity gone from 30 to 35 yards disparity for years and years. And then all of a sudden the disparity witnessed today is 60 to 65 yards average disparity, when you and I agree that the players today on the PGA Tour are much stronger than they were 10 years ago. Then that would only create more parity in the sport today, and thus everything should be "tighter" with the distances we are witnessing. Thus, the disparity should be 20 to 25 yards disparity.

I have my opinion and it dates to 2000 and can be witnessed each year from that point forward. That was the year that the Bridgestone Balls came out with the hard cores, soft cover. Generation after Generation, after Darwin, after Darwin, has seen these balls cores getting harder and harder and harder which has catered to the high swing speed players. Kind of like pool balls striking one another, where the almost perfect transfer of energy is taking place today.

Those hard cores can't be compressed today by Fred Funk, Chris Dimarco, David Toms, Scott Verplank, Skip Kendal, Jeff Sluman. And so when these players can't compress a specific core it would be like you trying to kick a football that was significantly overinflated. You couldn't compress it, thus it goes no where. I think Pete these are the real examples right here that has created the "huge" disparity we see in driving distance today.

03.13.2006 | Unregistered CommenterSean Murphy

Those are excellent points, and I agree that the ball has a lot to do with it. I also agree that the players are a lot stronger than in years past.

Let me clarify what I meant by smarter. That was obviously a poor choice of words in an attempt at brevity. By smarter, I meant those that are able to draw from their coaches and lessons and apply those studied improvements into the game itself on a consistent basis. After all, that's what separates us all from local club players and the big time, isn't it, the ability to turn those lessons into results?

I did leave out the ball, but had meant it as part of the equipment equation.

I think the disparity is there because there are some athletes at the top who are better genetically suited to the swing mechanics and can best exploit the equipment and balls and such. (Don't forget the agronomy!)

I can't really see a scenario that would tighten things up in terms of distance, unless...

How about if we count driving distances only for those that land in the fairway. It would be truly fascinating to see how the statistics and rankings would change. Anybody looking for a Master's Degree in statistics that wants to crunch sports data?

03.14.2006 | Unregistered CommenterPete the Luddite
The powers that be have already narrowed the fairways from 35 to 30 yards wide to 20 to 25 yards wide today, in most cases. With the horses already out of the barn with the face give and hard core balls, and where we see players flying the ball 320 into the rough where they end up with 325 total distance, and then are left with a pitching wedge from 130 into a 455 yard hole what good is narrowing the fairways, or for that matter who hits the fairways.

Secondly Pete, these balls today do not compress with an iron, (pool balls again) so out of rough they race up the club face, causing more friction because of this cores resistance to give, thus launching "HIGH" and with plenty of "SPIN" on that particular shot.

The lessons and teaching that you refer to was true when the cores to the golf balls coming out on the PGA Tour were compressed by every professional golfer. With these Hard Core Balls, Faces that Give, and tremdously low centers of gravity to the clubs, the less spinning golf balls that cant be worked, and where wind has no real consequences, the only real lesson that todays players need is grip it and rip it because it's never going to get away from you, and you will always get it in the air, and don't worry about rough because rough isn't really rough anymore, and thus you can score from anywhere. Which is what we are seeing today.

The greater disparity has occured because of the lack of integrity in protecting the "BALL". The golf ball should "Never", "Never", "Ever" be manufactured for distance. It has though and it has reduced the skill level down to a specific clubhead speed today on the PGA Tour. Around 120 mph. And as a result of this lack of integrity in protecting the ball the rough has no meaning anymore on accuracy or scoring. (EX-Tiger and Phil finishing dead last and next to dead last in driving accuracy at the 2005 Doral Tournament where they finished first and second.

Pete, if you could go back, starting in 2000, and could show me where two players finished first and second in a professional tournament on the PGA Tour while finishing last and dead last in driving accuracy for the week, I would like to see it. I'm sorry buddy but I just don't think it exists.

When we use to witness players like Calvin Peete driving it in the fairway consistently we knew he was someone to be reackoned with. When the golf ball core compressed down through every iron like when Calvin was playing, it was called the fairway for a reason, and it was called the rough for a reason. In the fairway you were given an advantage to spin your shot and attack the pin, in the rough your shot became rougher, hence the word rough, and the ball compressed fully exiting the rough on a much flatter trajectory with little to no spin on the shot, where 9 out of 10 of these shots hit the green and ran through the back. Not today. It's all fairway out there today Pete. Just grip it and rip it because the equipment is so rediculously easy to hit today, and physics has ruled out all skill, except one, strength.

We professional golfers could do everyone a huge favor by moving our competitions in doors. And instead of golf balls and clubs we just conduct a "Dead Lifting" contest to find out who is the strongest. That's really where were at now.
03.14.2006 | Unregistered CommenterSean Murphy
Sean's lifting some pretty heavy weight here Pete. I can't see all of the plates but it looks to be somewhere in the 450 range. I do have to agree with the premise that we can't really find players of old that drove the ball horribly and won. Except Seve that year he was all over the place at the British Open, he even played from a car park, while Hale Irwin watched him make birdie with disgust from that car park. When they roll those clips I always find myself looking at Irwins expression. Priceless. That must be how some of the more accurate players feel on the PGA Tour today. Who could blame them? The skill level has certainly gone down hill.
03.14.2006 | Unregistered CommenterBrett
You'll find very little argument with me on many of these points. I absolutely agree that the lack of accuracy not affecting scoring is severely out of hand.

Sean, I am going to look on my pc at home tonight for something I put together last fall regarding performance vs. accuracy. I was bored one night and graphed out the ranking between driving accuracy and distance, and then mapped that by money rank. The graph was very cool, in the sense that there was almost a perfect line between driving distance and driving accuracy. If you were accurate you were short, and if you bombed it you were ranked very poorly in accuracy. The end points were Tiger and Fred Funk, with flip flops in ranking for distance and accuracy. The numbers, if I recall correctly, were something like 1st/189th, reversed as makes sense for each of them in those statistics. There were virtually no players who were long AND accurate. YET, these were all Top 25 in the money for the year. If I can find it, I'll send the file to Geoff. If he thinks it's interesting, maybe he'll post it. It's very nerdy and will require some explanation.

Sean, you obviously have a better view on this than us, as a Tour pro. I appreciate reading your viewpoints and stories, even though we don't always agree. Hopefully, we will soon see a plateau in the distances off the tee, and an inevitable development of parity. It is no fun to see what's being done to some truly great courses. I have been fortunate enough to work with some wonderful architects who refuse to bend to these recent changes at tournament courses.

Hit 'em straight...
03.14.2006 | Unregistered CommenterPete the Luddite

Cool idea on the graph, I would be interested. Also for some reference for you, I use to really study stats back in my early days on Tour as well, because they use to mean something. Anyway Greg Norman was at the top if not first in overall driving. He was always in the top 5 for distance, and around 20th in accuracy. You can see these stats for yourself on Pga Tiger was the same way for years, 1996 through around 2002 and then Tiger himself abandoned the old rule of thumb concept for todays new founded concept. Grip it and Rip it because there are really no consequenses out there any more. Anyway Pete you can check that out for yourself, and like you I hate what I'm seeing with coures, and course set ups to accomodate a ball that is anything from even resembling what a golf ball use to be.
03.14.2006 | Unregistered CommenterSean Murphy

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