What constitutes a long drive? Many golfers turn to the TV for context. Sadly, the bombs produced by Dustin Johnson and Jason Day aren’t realistic standards; even for most pros.
Despite the advances in technology and fitness, 300 yards remains a desired and hallowed target; most golfers can’t come close to sniffing that distance. Conversely, we continue to hear that escalating distance is becoming a problem, to the point where the USGA is starting to take steps to curb this supposed issue. So, how far do average golfers really hit it? ‘Game Golf Live’, a wearable real-time shottracking system provided data regarding the average driving distance from rounds played in 2016 (April to September). Breaking it down in two divisions — age and handicap — here are the median driving distances from male golfers from across the world:
At its core, the median driving distance is 219.55 yards. Other club distances of note: the median 3-wood goes 186.89 yards, 7-iron clocks in at 133.48 yards and pitching wedge at a 73.97 mark. For what it’s worth, golfers find the fairway 46.46 percent of the time. Sure, the biggest yardage number (250) may seem puny — especially when Henrik Stenson is outdriving that figure by 40 yards with his 3-wood. However, it does illustrate that, while average golfers are getting it out there, worries about rising distances ruining the game are overblown (at least at the amateur level). Distance depends on many factors: the clubs you are using, the balls you are using, the conditions under which you play (hard fairway or soft fairway? windy or calm? humid or dry? etc.), your gender and age, your physical fitness, coordination and athleticism and your swing speed.
There is no wrong golf club distance; there is only your distance. And knowing your distances (also known as “knowing your yardages”) is much more important than knowing how far each club is “supposed” to go. The moral of that story? Don’t compare yourself with the world’s best players. Although some recreational players do outhit the pros, they are rare and you probably aren’t one of them. You’ll quickly get an idea of whether you are a “long” hitter or “short” hitter by simply playing golf and comparing yourself to those you play with. There’s no shame in being a short hitter, and being a long hitter doesn’t guarantee anything, including a lower score. Hitting the ball far doesn’t matter at all if you can’t also hit it straight or then get the ball on the green.
Men V’s Women? The average women golfer is said to hit the ball about 75% the distance of the average man. Ideally the difference in the length of the tee boxes should mean that scores are evened out; but that’s not even close. With a typical 10% difference in course length, not the 25% that would make up for this disparity, men should think again before complaining about this supposed ‘advantage’. There is a greater gap between the longer and shorter women than there is between the longer and shorter men. Better women players tend to be significantly longer than weaker women players. A male player who shoots 110 might be just as long as a guy who shoots 80. That is very unlikely with female golfers.
A Final Caveat You can find distance charts on many websites around the Web. One thing you’ll notice is that the numbers provided rarely, if ever, match up. These figures are just for show; the only number that really matters is on your scorecard.