The Reality Of Distance Off The Tee

How often have we discussed the importance of distance off the tee box. The reality of how far we actually hit the ball compared to our ability to post low golf scores. Like all things, many golfers (including myself sometimes) think they can hit a golf ball farther than we really can. Yes, I can poke a ball out to about 280 or 290 once in a blue moon, but my average distance is not anywhere near that length. The key to my last statement is my average distance off the tee. I found some interesting statistics from credible sources that grounds my view of driver distance and shows that my focus on hitting the ball farther might be taking up to much of my focus.

The USGA and R&A release a report indicating that average driver distances have not significantly increased since 2003. There has been a minor improvement, but not such where I need to chase the ongoing claims of ‘innovation’ with respect to new equipment. The report discusses average distances in relation to handicap and after giving it some thought, I think the USGA and R&A are spot on for the amateur player. Here is what they release and reported by :

Golf Digest recently reported the same basic numbers using ACCROS data:

> 20 handicap: 205.2 yards

15-20 handicap: 211.2 yards

10-15 handicap: 220.4 yards

5-10 handicap: 230.3 yards

0-5 handicap: 237.8 yards

< 0 handicap: 239.6 yards

*According to Arccos data

It is important to realize that this data is average distances. After looking at how closely the numbers related, it is easy to see that many amateur golfers have higher confidence in their hitting ability than they actually do. Think of the last round you played golf; I bet that you hit a few drives farther than your the handicap numbers show, but you also hit just as many less. Hence the qualification of ‘average’ when discussing driver distances.

This entire conversation indicates that the ability to consistently hit the golf ball on the center of the clubface is just as important as swing speed. Being able to control the ball flight and distances with each club is really the key to lower golf scores. It is almost as if the teachings of golf has roots in controlled and focused swing mechanics. Gee, that sounds exactly the tenets I was taught over 40 years ago. Interesting…..right?

To lower your golf scores, I recommend focusing less on distance and more on control and accuracy. Learning how to chip and putt, controlling approach distances, grooving your swing to understand ball flight and the other aspects of golf will go a long way to lowering our golf scores than worrying about hitting the long ball.

As a low handicapper, I have shot my best scores by increasing my GIR and putts per hole stats. Even today, when I practice, I focus on areas starting at the pin and working outwards. By developing a strong short game, I know I will score well. In addition, I will feel more relaxed hitting the ball with my driver knowing that if I hit the ball shorter than average, I have the game to compensate. ‘Old style’ teachings of control and accuracy are just as important today as they were 40 years ago. Solely focusing on driver distance because it is cool will not help your overall score and that is the real goal.

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

2 thoughts on “The Reality Of Distance Off The Tee

  1. Your advice is spot on. The difference between a high, mid, and low handicapper is in the misses, not the distance. Accordingly, the biggest problem with gaining more distance is you can send your ball farther into trouble so the faster you can swing the more control you need to have.

    I have a spot in the backswing I don’t want to go past. Things start breaking down when I do. The same is true with how far I try and take the turn. There is a point of no return there too. So as long as I’m playing golf with my head, I’m not going past those points. I don’t lose distance on average over it because I get better average strikes. The key being on average. Sure I might hit it farther when I get it just right when swinging all out, but that just doesn’t happen as often as any of us would like. So to score lower, I stay well within my limits. Trying push past them I’ve found just doesn’t pay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin

      Understanding our limits is a great statement for beginners. Yes it is fun to hit the long ball, but making solid contact 1 out of 5 shots is not good for the score. I also have limits and sometimes try to extend them, but this usually does not result in a successful shot. The problem I have is every once in awhile the extending works and sends my brain into a tailspin on what is possible and what is not. It is all fun though and I am already looking forward to next year.

      Cheers Jim


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