If we were to make pro’s play the equivalent course that an average player does every week then it would need to be over 10,000 yards.
Some very interesting stats were published at the beginning of this year from Game Golf. Game Golf is a GPS tracker, it tracks every shot you hit. You can then analyse your stats to see where your misses end up and how far you hit each shot but in my opinion, the data that Game Golf gives is the best insight into how technology hasn’t really helped the average golfer.
Let’s be real for a moment and acknowledge that equipment manufacturers would have you believe you are gaining 10 – 15 yards every time you change your driver. If this was the case we’d all be hitting it over 300 yards off the tee by now. Game Golf’s data tells us the truth and it shows that the average golfer hits their driver 219.55 yards and the average golfer hits their 7-iron 133.48 yards.
One of the big problems with golf is that most golf clubs and golfers listen and believe the manufacturers when they tell us how far we hit the ball. Every golf club wants to be over 7,000 yards in length and most golfers want to play from the back tees. Looking at the average length of holes, most par 3’s are over 160 yards, most par 4’s are over 400 yards and most par 5’s are over 520 yards. With these yardages and the average golfer hitting much shorter than they think, golf is becoming too difficult. The average golfer is hitting long irons, fairway woods and hybrids into every hole! To make the game of golf more enjoyable for more players, golf courses should be getting shorter not longer.
If the PGA Tour were to set up courses every week to make it the same test as the average golfer faces every time they play they would have to make courses about 10,000 yards. The average tour player hits their driver just under 300 yards and hits their 7-iron about 180 yards.
The US Open was at a new venue, Erin Hills which measures 7,800 yards from the back tees. 7,800 yards sounds long but it is far too short for the world’s best players. To make it a test, the USGA have to trick up the greens, narrow the fairways and make the rough unplayable.
Some golf fans seem to like this but for me it’s not real golf. The improvements in technology and player fitness over the past 15 years in particular have really helped the world’s best golfers, but these improvements haven’t really been transferred down the average golfer in the same way.
It makes me think what the average golfer would shoot if they played Erin Hills as it was set up for the final days play in the US Open? I would say that the average golfer wouldn’t get around. They wouldn’t reach the fairways from most of the tee boxes and lose every ball they had. After taking about 4 hours to play the front 9, I would think any right-minded person would just give up.
When I talk about the average golfer I am talking about someone with a handicap between 14 and 18. We wouldn’t think about putting our juniors out on a course that measures 7,000 yards and we shouldn’t put ourselves out on any course that measures over 6,300 yards. This would allow for par 3’s to play 150 yards, par 4’s 370 yards and par 5’s 500 yards.
Instead of having tees that everyone plays from you could play from tees depending on how far you hit the ball. This would mean that every golfer could more or less face the same challenge. If you hit a driver from a par 4 you should be left a mid-iron not facing a shot longer than you played for your first shot. You should have a mid-iron into a par 3 and possibly be able to hit a par 5 in two if you hit your Sunday best. If you did this then every golfer could play every course in the world. There is no way the average golfer could play Erin Hills.
I know that what I’m asking is almost impossible to create but so is the idea that everything is the same between the pro and amateur game. The governing bodies need to address the improvement in technology (mainly the ball) or else introduce 10,000 yard golf course for professional golf and stop making the average golfer spend too long on the golf course which leads to players losing interest and the game losing players.