While watching the Women’s British Open on the weekend, I was intrigued by a comment made by Judy Rankin. It is not often that I struck by an ‘ah ha’ moment. But what she said about driving distance really resonated with me. The more I think about it, the more I agree with Judy. Her interpretation of driving distance is more accurate and valuable when playing golf.
As we watch I.K. Kim, the eventual champion, warm up on the range, the conversation turned to driving distance. The announcers indicated that the average driving distance on the LPGA Tour was about 250 yards. This is a fairly accurate assessment if you look at the stats. However, Rankin stated that this stat was miss leading because it described where the ball came to rest after the drive.
In the case of I.K. Kim, she averaged 250 yards off the tee, however she only carried the ball about 215 yards with a 35 yard roll out. According to Rankin, and I agree, the 215 yard measurement is far more valuable when playing around of golf. This determines where a player will hit the ball to avoid any trouble. Let me explain.
On my home course at Osprey Links Golf Course, the 7th hole is a dog-leg right with a pond guarding the driving area. From the tee, I am at the 100 yard marker and must carry 235 yards over the water to come to rest at or near the 100 yard marker. The total carry over the water for my shot is about 50 yards.
Now, if I.K. Kim is playing this hole, she must aim considerable left of my aim point. If she hits the ball straight and her ball rolls out to 250 yards, like mine above, she will be about 140 yards from the green. The fact that she cannot carry the ball farther than approximately 215 yards with her driver forces her to take a conservative line to avoid the water. The 40 yard difference in approach shots does make a difference if it occurs 3 or 4 times in a round.
I agree with Judy Rankin. The driving distances are a bit askew and maybe we should look at the carry distance vice the roll out distance. It is a more accurate stat that helps amateurs course manage easier. Using Rankin’s stat, I drive the ball on average of 235 yards. How about you?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
Written by Jim Burton from The Grateful Golfer golf blog.