The 10 Most Im­proved Drivers on the PGA Tour

And what they did to gain an ad­van­tage

Golf Digest (Malaysia) - - Contents 01/18 - BY E. MICHAEL JOHN­SON

And what they did to gain an ad­van­tage.

More yards. It’s what ev­ery player craves. That’s par­tic­u­larly true at the elite level of the PGA Tour, where dis­tance is an im­por­tant part of re­main­ing com­pet­i­tive.

Golf Di­gest an­a­lyzed ShotLink’s driv­ing-dis­tance statis­tics from the 2015-’16 and 2016-’17 sea­sons to see which play­ers boosted their yardage the most. There were 141 play­ers who qual­i­fied for the dis­tance rank­ing in both sea­sons, and 75 play­ers pro­duced gains. Whether it’s Rory McIl­roy seek­ing an­other gear to sep­a­rate him­self from the field or Zach John­son and K.J. Choi try­ing to stay rel­e­vant, the quest for more yards is on the minds of tour pros.

“Play­ers seek dis­tance,” says Keith Sbar­baro, Tay­lorMade’s vice pres­i­dent of tour op­er­a­tions. “Why wouldn’t they? The closer to the green off the tee, sta­tis­ti­cally speak­ing, the bet­ter the chance of get­ting it closer to the hole on the next shot. Ev­ery­one wants to hit it as far as their ball speed will al­low.”

There are sev­eral ingredients to dis­tance: equip­ment technology, club­fit­ting, fit­ness and tech­nique. Some­times it’s a change in mind-set or the com­fort of be­ing fa­mil­iar and con­fi­dent with equip­ment and swing.

We reached out to play­ers, tour reps and in­struc­tors of the top-10 most im­proved in driv­ing dis­tance this past sea­son to find out what al­lowed them to hit it far­ther. As to whether there will be more im­prove­ment go­ing for­ward, Sbar­baro is un­equiv­o­cal. “No one on tour is maxed out in terms of launch and spin,” he says. “Dustin John­son is very good, but he has an­other 10 yards. I don’t know where it ends.”

clock­wise from top left Justin Thomas, Rory McIl­roy, Brooks Koepka, Billy Horschel and Hideki Mat­suyama.

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