It seems that—despite the perception—average driving distance on the PGA Tour are not going up dramatically. The USGA says that over the last three years, average driving distances are up just three yards.
Further, it seems that the myth of the high tech golf ball may also not be true:
Research undertaken by USGA senior technical director Dick Rugge has also disclosed that players with faster swing speeds do not gain a significant distance advantage by using high-tech golf balls.
“Physics, scientific tests and actual results on the PGA Tour all confirm that faster swinging players have not gained a disproportionate amount of distance from modern golf balls,” Rugge said.
Another interesting note is that players are not routinely hitting their five irons 200+ yards. The average tour five iron travels around 185 yards.
But at the same time, the correlation between driving accuracy and winning is at an all time low.
Still, I can’t shake the idea that tournament golf today has evolved into a drive for dough game.
I’m only speculating here, but I that the reason we believe that the pros are hitting it further is that they no longer seem to care about accuracy. Whereas once they might hit an iron or three wood off the tee to ensure a shot in the fairway, they now hit their drivers with abandon. It no longer matters to them if they hit the fairway. The rough at most courses is not paticularly penal and they can easily blast it out of the second cut.