USGA, R&A study: Distance gains negligible since '03

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The USGA and R&A have released findings from a joint study that indicate distance growth off the tee has been relatively steady since 2003.

The study examined data from seven professional tours, creating a sample size of approximately 285,000 drives per year. Of the seven tours, five have seen average driving distance increase by approximately 1.2 percent (0.2 yards per year), while the other two tours studied decreased by about 1.5 percent.

The study also found that the 10 shortest players on both the PGA Tour and European Tour are approximately 6 percent shorter than average, while the 10 longest players are 7 percent longer than average - similar spreads to those measured in 2003.

"In the interests of good governance and transparency, it is important that we continue to provide reliable data and facts about driving distance in golf," said R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers. "Driving distance remains a topic of discussion within the game and the review provides accurate data to help inform the debate."

While the study found minimal growth within the specified time frame, driving distance has appeared to be on the rise in recent years. A total of 27 players averaged 300 yards or more off the tee on the PGA Tour last season, a benchmark that only nine players reached during the 2003 season.

The study also addressed launch conditions, finding that stats like clubhead speed, launch angle, ball speed and back spin have been "relatively stable" since 2007.