Golf World (UK) - - PGA TOUR AT 50 -

At the 1991 US PGA Cham­pi­onship, the ninth al­ter­nate got a sur­prise call to play and then stunned the world with his seem­ingly-reck­less swing that ex­tended well beyond par­al­lel – rare at the time – and gen­er­ated un­prece­dented dis­tance. A 25-year-old John Daly av­er­aged 303 yards that week at Crooked Stick and 289 yards for the sea­son us­ing the Wil­son Ul­tra – a Surlyn-cov­ered two-piece ball that most de­scribed as a rock.

By 1997, Daly had be­come the first player to av­er­age over 300 yards on the PGA Tour when his av­er­age tee shot trav­elled 302 yards.

In the early/mid 1990s, Daly’s length was seen as freak­ish, a one-off, not a trend that would cause the sort of con­tro­versy it does to­day. The dis­tance de­bate re­ally has its ori­gin in the mas­sive shift in ball tech­nol­ogy that took all the dis­tance ca­pa­bil­i­ties of Daly’s Wil­son ball and com­bined them with the feel and con­trol of liq­uid core/ wound balls such as the Titleist Pro­fes­sional that Tiger Woods used to win the 1997 Mas­ters.

Nike’s Tour Ac­cu­racy ball, launched in 1999 and which Woods be­gan us­ing in May 2000, was the first to ex­hibit these hy­brid qual­i­ties, but it was Titleist’s Pro-V1, first in­tro­duced to the pub­lic in De­cem­ber 2000, that would be­come the poster child for what many now see as ex­ces­sive dis­tance.

One per­son av­er­aged 300+ off the tee in 1997 (Daly). To­day, 21 years later, that num­ber stands at 61.

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