The “roll back the ball” campaign that has taken over the conversation between gearheads and equipment junkies around the world of golf is operating on one gigantic assumption that a recent study may have disproved.
According to a study conducted by Arccos, a GPS round-tracking golf-statistics app, driving distances since 2015 across all age groups and handicaps have, at best, stayed flat and in many cases has decreased.
The average drive in 2018 for an average player is 217.1 yards, which is down nearly three yards from 2015.
Nick Clearwater, the vice president of instruction for GolfTec, says that a reason for some of the distance decrease is due to players imparting less-than-ideal swings on the ball. Playing and swinging like a Tour pro is hard — that’s why they’re the pros — and unless amateurs are playing the right clubhead and shaft, this advanced technology may actually be hurting them.
“The average golfer uses too much spin loft with all of their clubs, so increases in tech still show minimal improvement in the quality of the shot,” Clearwater said. “The shots still start to the right, spin too much and are mishit.
“There is not much equipment/ball can help with. Also, as much as clubhead tech has improved, shafts are getting lighter and longer from the OEMs and the consistency of the strike is compromised as a result.”
Clearwater went on to say that beyond those imparting poor strikes on the ball, many are still using older equipment or off-the-rack equipment that fails to meet the expectations or capabilities of the technology.
There’s also the small issue of age that needs to be addressed. As golfers get older, speed and distance inevitably fall, so a flat distance number is not necessarily a bad thing and could even be seen as a gain against what could have been happening.
Overall, amateur distance is down across the board, but the potential and availability of more distance could be as easily attainable as heading to your local big box golf shop or PGA professional to get properly fitted for your next driver or iron set.
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