I am amazed at how far players are hitting their ball off the tee. I am not only talking about professionals, but amateurs as well. It seems that distance is the holy grail of golf and is what most players are focused on. I agree that distance can be a great equalizer, however it is not the end all for shooting low scores. It helps, but it is only one part of any great player’s game.
Regardless of our strengths and weaknesses on the course, increasing distance appears to have taken a giant leap forward in 2017. Early in the 2017 PGA schedule, there is a dramatic increase in professional golfers averaging 300+ yards off the tee; the number of professionals crushing the ball has increased by 125% to 61 players.
This change is amazing considering that the number of long hitters has hovered around 25 for the past 5 years. What is causing the spike in players hitting the long ball? Well, I have a theory and it focuses around Tiger Woods.
Woods excelled in three areas that forever changed professional golf. It was a quick transition for him, but a slower evolution for golf. He was the ‘game changer’ in the 1990s and present day golfers are reaping the benefits.
First, Tiger Woods brought fitness to golf. He trained harder and longer than any other player in golf’s history. (This might be a bit of a dramatic over-statement, but I think it drives my point home) Woods proved that being physically fit is quintessential to great golf. Most players today understand this important attribute and include rigorous training as part of their daily routine.
Second, Woods mentally changed the game. As a fierce competitor, he believed that he would win every time he teed it up. He used his power of crushing the ball to overwhelm many opponents. He opened the door for other players to believe they could accomplish what he could and now, the younger players are starting to follow Woods’ lead by using power to elevate their game.
Lastly, Woods changed how equipment manufacturers approached golf. They realized that if they could sell the idea of increased distance to amateurs, they could sell more product. This approach appears to be true and the more players on tour that break the 300+ yard barrier, the more amateurs will try to follow their lead.
Tiger Woods is the cause for many players to focus on distance. Of course, he was the driving force for so much more, but increased distance off the tee is a major change on the professional circuit over the last 5 years. It will be interesting to see the final 2017 numbers because a 125% increase is a crazy stat worth watching.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!