Latest Driving Distance Report Widely Ridiculed
The R&A and USGA have jointly released their second annual report into driving distance on the major tours, and to the surprise of just about everyone, found that yardage gained by the game's best players had increased by a lowly 0.2 yards per year since 2003.
Believing the data to be deliberately misleading and using convenient methods, golfers, commentators and journalists vented their bemusement on Twitter, pointing out the perceived falsehoods from the two governing bodies that are tasked with protecting the historic game.
Former European Tour player and regular analyst on Sky Sports, Tony Johnstone was quick to speak his mind on the figures unveiled by the major organisations.
.@EllingYelling USGA crock of crap! SELECTIVE stats. Back 1 yr to '02: top 10 ave 14.35 gain to '16. +- same top 20. Won't admit failure.— Tony Johnstone (@TonyJohnstone56) February 15, 2017
He continued, raising the inarguable point that there has been an increase in the use of fairway woods and irons off the tee in recent years, which has likely skewed the numbers that have been reported.
For the full report, you'll find it in the 'Fiction' section. NOBODY is fooled by this. 200 yard 7-irons on tour!! We aren't idiots. https://t.co/4Y9zolKUnl— Tony Johnstone (@TonyJohnstone56) February 16, 2017
American golf writer, Ron Green Jr was also correct to underline the flaws of the statistics used by the two bodies.
Nine players averaged 300 off the tee in '03....last year, 27 players averaged 300...— RonGreenJr (@RonGreenJr) February 15, 2017
and I believe they hit more 3-woods off the tee now https://t.co/cu5AICraZv
Leading journalist, John Huggan, long vocal on this subject, was suitably dismissive of the latest report.
Am wondering why the R&A apparently haven't bothered to send me their latest fairy stories re driving distances at pro level....????— John Huggan (@johnhuggan) February 15, 2017
As pointed out, if distance wasn't increasing, why then would the game's most historic courses, especially the legendary Old Course at St. Andrews, be continually lengthened beyond their limits.
So why on a course, let's call it the Old Course, move a tee, call it the 17th tee, further back and position the new tee Out of Bounds? https://t.co/kX1riGFAsG— Neil Galloway (@GallowayNeil) February 15, 2017
Golfshake's very own Kieran Clark had his say on the topic, with a scathing assessment of the R&A and USGA.
It's absurd, deflective nonsense. Heads collectively buried in the West Sands of St. Andrews. https://t.co/Mb7zCU1qY5— Kieran Clark (@KieranClarkGolf) February 15, 2017
Will Gray of the Golf Channel perhaps expressed it best, using an amusing GIF from the 1980s comedy The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad.
USGA and R&A release joint study that finds driving distance on 5 of 7 major tours has only increased 0.2 yards per year since 2003. pic.twitter.com/eHyAJcfe2J— Will Gray (@WillGrayGC) February 15, 2017
Unfortunately, there is a lot to see when it comes to distances and the damaging affects it has had on the game at the top level. Though it will become even harder to see in future as golf balls disappear higher and farther into the sky.
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