If there was any doubt that learning speed and launch is vital to future PGA Tour survival coming off a season when the driving distance average jumped from 292.5 to 296.1 yards, Golfweek’s David Dusek provides all of the analysis (and charts) you’ll need to know that the money is in distance. There was a day when this kind of imbalance bothered the USGA and R&A and maybe even the PGA Tour:
As a group, the 20 longest hitters on the PGA Tour averaged more than $3.5 million in prize money last season, which was 164 percent more than the Tour average.
As massive as that percentage may seem, it falls within a range that goes several years. In 2017, the 20 longest hitters on the PGA Tour averaged 123 percent more prize money than the PGA Tour average. In the three seasons before that, they earned about 150 percent more, which tells us that as distance off the tee has increased over the last few years, the longest hitters have maintained an edge in terms of earnings.
There should be an advantage to hitting the ball a long way, but one would hope the numbers also show some kind that the game also still rewards those who show other skills besides an ability to hit the ball supreme distances. Right?