Have you ever wondered how some of golf’s greatest players from years gone by would have fared had they been privy to the type of equipment we have today? Brian Mull of PGA.com did, so he did some digging and compared and contrasted the statistics from today’s top players and how they would stack up with the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead and even Bobby Jones.
IBM recorded driving distance data at 11 PGA Tour events in 1968. The top 10 players averaged 270.2 yards, the average was 264.0 yards and Nicklaus led the Tour at 276.0 yards. Adding 35 yards for increased speed, hotter driver and better ball, Nicklaus would’ve averaged 311.0 last season.
When Tour pros put the Titleist Pro VI in play in late 2000, they automatically hit the ball 10-15 yards farther with each iron. A recent study also sheds light on the subject.
Chad Campbell averaged 291 yards off the tee in 2009, ranking 70th on the PGA Tour. At the Byron Nelson Classic that year, he hit Titleist Balata 100 balls on the driving range with a persimmon driver supplied by noted golf author Curt Sampson, according to a blog post published at GolfDigest.com.
The results were startling.
His average drive with the Byron Nelson wooden driver went 247 yards. The ball carried 270 yards off his driver, which measured 45” and 230 off the relic, which measured 43”.
He swung the 150-gram steel shaft in the persimmon at 106 miles per hour. He swung the 75-gram graphite shaft in his driver at 113 miles per hour. A driver two inches longer and two ounces lighter enabled Campbell to generate more speed. According to golf club designer Tom Wishon in a post on GolfWRX.com, each mile-per-hour of clubhead speed equals 2.8 yards of carry. He wrote that advancements in golf equipment account for at best, 25 percent of the distance increase.