Lou Stagner's Newsletter #60

Driver Distances: Perception vs. Reality

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Driver Distances: Perception vs. Reality

When you sign up for Arccos (Use code DATALOU15 to save 15%), we ask you to tell us how far you hit your driver.

Today we are going to look at how far players ACTUALLY hit their driver compared to how far they told Arccos they hit their driver.

The idea for this is from my good buddy Michael Hutchinson, who is the Senior Director of Data Science at Arccos (he is also a scratch player!). Thanks to Hutch for the idea AND for wrangling the data for me on this one.

If you are not following Hutch, you NEED to. He is one of the smartest guys I know. You don't want to miss his golf posts, as they are GOLD.

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To get to the answers below, we looked at players that provided us their estimated distance with driver, and then got their actual driver distance numbers from their first 20 rounds with Arccos.

Across all players, their estimated distance averaged 24.2 yards longer than the actual distance!

Across all players, their estimated distance averaged 1.0 yard longer than the actual 80th percentile distance. Meaning, most players tend to think their “solid” drives are about how far they hit the ball.

There was less difference in estimation error when you look at it by age. Players age 60 or older had the smallest average difference at 21.7 yards (the average player in this age group had an estimated distance that was 21.7 yards longer than their actual average distance).

There was a bit more difference in estimation error when you look at it by handicap index. Better players had less of an estimation error, while higher index players had a larger error.

*A positive number means the estimated distance was longer than the actual distance

There was a much bigger difference in estimated vs actual distance when you look at it by how far the player thinks they hit the ball. Those that said they hit driver 275 yards or longer, on the average, had an estimated distance with driver that was 36.4 yards longer than their actual distance (they think they hit it a lot farther than they actually do).

For those that estimated their driver went 199 or less, their estimate was long by an average of 11.0 yards. The far right column in the table below shows the average percent difference between estimated and actual distance.

My Thoughts

There is a difference between how far you CAN hit the ball and how far you DO hit the ball. The typical player, at every skill level, tends to think they hit the ball farther than they actually do.

For driver, the typical player entered a distance that was about the 80th percentile. This means that if you think your driver distance was 240, then 80% of your shots with driver actually traveled 240 yards or less, and only 20% traveled more than 240 yards.

One of the big benefits of using Arccos is knowing how far you hit each club. Not just your driver, but every club in your bag. Arccos provides you a “smart range” distance for each club. Knowing your ACTUAL distances allows you to reduce club selection mistakes, which helps you to hit more greens. Hitting more greens is key in helping to lower your scores and your handicap!

If you are not yet tracking your game, now is a great time to start! Your scores will thank you.

See you next week!


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    Have a great week!

Lou Stagner