PGA Tour Driving Distance Watch, Week 17

pgatour.jpgThe PGA Tour Driving Distance average rose to 288.0 yards, up from 287.7 after Houston.  Now, I didn't watch much of the New Orleans event (though I have it Tivo'd in case I want to peel off the layers masking English Turn's architectural genius), but considering the course was wet, that's an impressive distance jump.

There were 11 350-or-longer drives, with the season total now at 862. A nd Carlos Franco demonstrated the benefits of diet and exercise with 402-yarder on the 7th hole during Saturday's 3rd round.  That brings the season total to 17 drives of 400-yards or longer, 2 shy of 2005's total of 19.

It was in the April 29, 2005 issue that Golf World's E. Michael Johnson embarked on a Colbertian rant about what else, the ranting of "distance killjoys." One year ago the PGA Tour driving distance was 280 yards, down 7 yards from the previous year's total. It was reported here that perhaps this drop was caused by the record rainfall that followed the Tour in early '05, but Johnson instead chose the moment to demonstrate truthiness at its finest (yes, pre-Colbert). Courtesy of (the article isn't available on

The problem, however, is that this emerging conventional wisdom is rarely challenged.  Too infrequently does anyone provide the research to either support or refute these statements.

When it comes to the length the golf ball is traveling, there is no shortage of talking points for distance killjoys ranting about how the high-tech ball is ruining the game at the elite level.

Distance is out of control.  Scores are too low.  Courses are obsolete.  The game has become one of driver-wedge.

Sound familiar?

So let's try.

Is distance out of control?  Only if a seven-yard drop in driving distance since last year counts.  Scores too low?  Last year's scoring average was a whopping .02 lower than that of 1994. 

Maybe there will be a story this week looking at the 8-yard increase in driving distance compared to this time last year?