I often wondered if the average professional golf is as good as we think. As a steady 5 handicap player, I think I have some game. I understand that I have some weaknesses and continue to strive for lower scores. However, the average professional golfer has challenges as well and goes to great lengths to be a more competitive player. Unfortunately, I have never watched a professional event live, but have watched enough on TV to make an informed decision.
As we delve into this discussion, I think it is important to use the average professional player as the example. I choose this data point because it is a better reflection of the overall abilities of professional golfers and not focusing on the elite.
The one stat most amateur golfers like to discuss is driving distance. In 2019, the PGA Tour averaged 297 yards off the tee. That is pretty far considering as a low single digit handicapper average about 245 yards off the tee. That is about 50 yards difference. That is impressive in my mind. Anyway, back to the pros; approximately 1/3 of professional PGA Tour players hit the ball 297 yards or farther off the tee. That means that 2/3 of the players hit the ball less. So, with that many players below the average, are all professional golfers really that good?
The shortest player on the PGA Tour was Scott Langley and averaged 271 yards off the tee. That seems more realistic of a stroke from where I am sitting. Scott Langley played in 27 events and missed the cut most of the time. And yet he broke par more than half the time. Of course Langley is at the bottom end of the stat spectrum in one category, yet I am trying to show is that even the player at the bottom is significantly better than an most amateurs. Imagine what the average player would be like.
I have played against lower handicap players and they all have one thing in common. They are consistent with all their clubs. Yes, some clubs are better than others, but they consistently hit solid shots to the green, great approach shots, and roll their putts very well. Yet, even these players are a tier or two behind the professional golfers. At the professional level, the slightest mistake costs more on the leaderboard results than a 10 handicapper. So, consistency is critical to their ability to compete at the professional ranks.
The consensus from where I stand is that the average professional golfer is a great player. They have natural abilities and have put the work in to become top players in their chosen field. Their abilities to hit a little white ball with pinpoint accuracy is something most amateurs strive to achieve and I for one respect their ability to play a sport for a living. I am sure it is a grind for the average professional player, but name any profession that is not.
What are your thoughts? Are professional golfers as good as we think?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!