Between the advances in equipment and the focus on fitness, driving distances on the PGA Tour continue to increase while more and more players worry less and less about whether they keep the ball in the fairway. The trend is for players to prefer a shorter approach shot even if it has to be struck from the rough, which is not particularly penal for many events.
Since 2012, the average drive on Tour was 289.1 yards and has risen to over 296 in the past decade. However, it seems to have hit a plateau at that level since 2018.
The USGA and R&A have implemented a Model Local rule that allows individual tournaments and tours to limit the length of drivers to 46 inches, down from 48 inches, with the PGA and European Tours opting to enforce the new regulations effective January 1, 2022.
It remains to be seen if the new rules affect driving distance, especially since the top bomber, Bryson DeChambeau, has been a big proponent of the longer club that has allowed him to average almost 324 yards off the tee. However, the number of players using and manufacturers offering the longer lengths are relatively low.
DeChambeau has at times demonstrated spectacular length and is often spurred on by spectators to attempt to carry hazards or go for the green on par fours with his tee shots. The 2020 U.S. Open champion averages more than 27 yards higher than the average PGA Tour player. The eight-time Tour winner had an edge of over four yards over second-place Rory McIlroy during the 2021 season.
At age 32, McIlroy is still one of the longest players off the tee, as he has traditionally demonstrated throughout his career. His ability to hit it long and straight is the key for the eighth place player in the world’s game, something that had escaped him during a brief slump that he was able to snap with a victory in the Wells Fargo Championship in May.
Best Of The Rest
Third on the driving distance list in the 2021 season was three-time Tour winner Cameron Champ. He averaged 317 yards per shot off the tee that enabled him to win the 3M Open after missing 11 cuts in his first 22 tournaments of the season that had dropped him to 149th in the FedEx Cup. He rallied down the stretch and finished a respectable 57th.
Matthew Wolff, who has one victory on Tour, had a difficult finish to his 2021 season despite opening the campaign with back-to-back runner up finishes but still finished fourth on this list. His driving distance of just under 316 yards per tee shot wasn’t the reason for his month-long departure from the Tour after missing the cut in the Zurich Classic in April. He’s rebounded nicely to start the 2021-2022 season again in the top five in driving distance, with three finishes in the top 11 in four starts.