A few readers have wondered why this site no longer offers weekly driving distance updates. Frankly, sheer laziness drove the decision. Though my lazy attitude stems from a sixth sense that the governing bodies are so remarkably impotent and prone to spin that tracking the numbers is pointless.
One reader inquired as to why the numbers were down this year and how they compared to 2006 after twenty weeks of PGA Tour play.
Well at this point last year, the Tour average was 289.2 yards and 920 drives of 350 yards or more had been struck.
2007's are down significantly: 284.7 yards and 785 drives of 350 yards or more.
There have been 17 drives over 400 yards, the same total as 2006 at this point.
Eight players are averaging over 300 yards in 2007 (18 at this point last year).
Bubba Watson was leading at 321.2 yards last year, and leads again in 2007 at 314.7 yards off the tee.
While many conclusions can be drawn from this data--narrowed fairways have finally strangled the life out of the game or soggy conditions continue to slow things down--I believe there is little doubt that the players are simply working out less!
Yes, the vaunted workout programs we've heard about must not be what they used to be.
After all, we heard that the distance spike since 1999 was not caused by the ball or forgiving launch-monitor fit drivers. No, it was those superathletes like Tim Herron and Jeff Quinney and their Jack LaLanne workout programs.
So now that the numbers have dropped, I suppose no one will dare suggest that the equipment isn't as good as it was in 2005? Or that perhaps guys were actually using illegal drivers a few years ago?
No, they're just slacking in the weight room. And you know what that means? No need for performance enhancing drug testing!
Though I do promise to check the numbers more regularly since last week's AT&T Classic caused a 1-yard spike in the average and tacked on 130 drives of 350 yards or more.