Go big or go home?

Are we en­ter­ing an era where dis­tance is all dom­i­nant, asks Stu­art Hood?

Golf World (UK) - - The Spin -

When Rickie Fowler tapped in a short putt to win Fe­bru­ary’s Honda Clas­sic, he be­came the fifth player with an av­er­age driv­ing dis­tance of over 300 yards to win on the PGA Tour in the first 15 events of this sea­son. This is not so news­wor­thy un­til you dis­cover two things.

First, a decade ago, just three men with an av­er­age driv­ing dis­tance of 300 yards or more tasted vic­tory dur­ing the en­tire 2007 PGA Tour sea­son. Sec­ond, when you re­mem­ber that Justin Thomas has three vic­to­ries in 2016/17 and Hideki Mat­suyama two, it means that eight of the PGA Tour’s first 15 events were won by stars who launch it more than 300 yards off the tee. This is a mas­sive jump from the pre­vi­ous two sea­sons (see graphic be­low), and Golf Chan­nel an­a­lyst Char­lie Rymer has a the­ory as to why it’s hap­pen­ing.

“You could play a longer ball 25 years ago, but you couldn’t con­trol it,” says the for­mer PGA Tour pro. “Now, the balls are so good that you can get a longer ball that you can still con­trol. This is an is­sue in the pro­fes­sional and am­a­teur games, be­cause it means that play­ers with more club­head speed are get­ting a greater ben­e­fit than play­ers with less club­head speed.”

For­mer tour player Nick O’Hern agrees. “The long guys get 2030 yards out of the mod­ern equip­ment, when I might only get five,” he says. While Golf Chan­nel an­a­lyst Robert Dam­ron sim­ply states: “The mod­ern ball per­forms ex­po­nen­tially bet­ter the harder you hit it.”

Mul­ti­ple win­ner Justin Thomas – just 5ft 10in tall but 308.2 yards off the tee. 2011 2010 2012 2 0 1 3 2 2014/15

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