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Monday, November 26, 2007

So You're Tellin Me...?

Hi. Welcome to my new pseudo-column that I'm going to tentatively call, "So You're Telling Me?" Now, what's the gist? Well, instead of me explaining my column, let's just start with the first dig and you'll see what it means.

Lately, it seems some of my colleagues from other golf-related (I say "related", since many of them are barely golf magazines anymore) magazines have duly noted that the average driving distances among PGA Tour professionals hasn't increased as of late. They cite PGA Tour stats, which seem to indicate that not only has the player's driving distance hit a wall this year, it's bounced back a few yards. (The first time since 1993. Hey, go look it up if you want the numbers.) Previous years also have indicated wimpy increases in distance at best, proving that the guys on Tour have maxed out as far as distance is concerned. Ugh, wait. So, you're telling these guys aren't continuing to hit the ball too far? Come on now.

The only thing going in reverse is the way the PGA Tour calculates driving distance. Of course these guys are hitting it farther than ever, and until the Tour begins publishing the latest Shotlink numbers (which accounts for every shot hit on the course by a given player), the truth will never be told in writing. Then again, do we really need stats to tell us what's going on? Do we really need lab results to show that Barry Bonds was or is still on the juice? Do we need another story about Kobe Bryant wanting out of Los Angeles? So you're telling me we need more proof? Come on now.

Angel Cabrera won the US Open bashing driver to almost embarrassing distances. Tiger, who we all know can be as long as he wants, can hit a 3-wood past just about anyone. In case you haven't looked it up already, the PGA Tour still calculates driving distance the old-fashioned way. They pick two holes, in generally opposite directions. It doesn't matter what club the player uses (the Tour picks driver holes, but that doesn't guarantee drivers are always what are hit) nor if the ball hits the fairway. Come on now. Two holes? Most guys probably hit at least 10 drivers per round. Why just two holes?

Maybe there's more too it. Maybe the Tour doesn't want to show the truth on paper, fearing backlash and the criticism that has once come from those who feel the game is being ruined by big hitters who have made many courses obsolete. Me, I don't agree with them either. So what if guys hit the ball further. Let them continue to crush it, as long as they play by the rules. (You don't see anyone complaining that the basketball rim is too high and it should be lowered to 9 ft so shorter guys have a chance, do you?) All I ask is that the Tour stops hiding behind old-school stats, and let folks see just how far these guys are killing it. That's all.

If you still don't believe me, just look at your own driver. if you bought it after 2002, it's longer than your previous driver, right? I'd bet my house on it (even though I rent). Today's equipment has helped you, and it's helped the best players even more. Why? They hit the sweetspot an awful lot, and when you have the right ingredients in a ball, shaft and clubhead, amazing things can happen.

Come on PGA Tour. Stop hiding those Shotlink numbers and tell us what's really going on. And to my colleagues, stop falling for it. These guys are hitting it further than ever.

Next Installment of SYTM: Accuracy Matters...NOT!

1 comment:

Matt Segal said...

God, when I golf I violate a good number of these. Thats why I prefer when the starter doesn't pair me with that lone guy to join me and a buddy. He would be much happier by himself than putting up with all my noobishness. Thanks for pointing all of this out!