The golf at Firestone is not everyone's cup of tea but when you put wedge approaches into the 2018 PGA Tour player's hand all day, Robert Trent Jones' design becomes less compelling. However in his defense, as you'll note in today's top website quote from Jack Nicklaus, the Golden Bear found the course dull even when hitting woods and long irons into the greens.
Either way, the driving distances at the final WGC Bridgestone were even more staggering than the normally huge numbers posted there annually. Driven solely by incorporation of medicine balls that have built super-cores like the game has never seen before these tall...well some of them...strapping...some of them...super jocks hit the ball unthinkable distances at the 2018 WGC Bridgestone, averaging 318.3 yards off the tee as a field.
Momentary pause to let that sink in.
Try designing interesting golf holes for 318 yard averages on less than 250 acres.
At the final Bridgestone, Brooks Koepka and his guns averaged 341.3 on the two driving holes, and tied with Rory McIlroy to lead the field with a 328.9 yard average on ALL drives. Branden Grace was 20th in distance, averaging 326.9. Here is the list of the measuring hole leaders:
Justin Thomas used his power to great advantage and should be celebrated for his effort. With a 329.3 distance average on the measuring holes, he carved up Firestone when he had wedge into the greens. From the good folks at ShotLink:
On a course once considered boring by Jack Nicklaus because it was all woods and long iron approaches, Thomas had 32 approach shots insider 150 yards and only 13 outside 200.
Where does this leave us on the season?
There has been a spike in distance seen all year and that's relevant if you take the USGA and R&A at their word that action would be necessary with any significant increase, regardless of the reason.
The 2018 PGA Tour driving distance average after Firestone is 295.8 yards. If the boys will just do a little more gym work over the final weeks, we can get a four-yard increase over 2016-17's 292.5.
The distance average was 291.3 after the same tournament last year so I like our chances! (The tour average was 288.7 through the 2016 WGC Bridgestone.)
Five players in 2017 averaged over 310 yards off the tee, that number is at 15 this year.
In 2018, 67 players are averaging over 300 yards off the tee, versus 38 last year.
Of course, the PGA Tour took the position that none of this was significant last year. Will they do so again in 2018?