How much does distance help?

Lou Stagner's Newsletter #10

How Important is Distance?

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Recently Arccos released it's 2022 distance report. I am sure it's no surprise that the better the player, the longer they tend to hit it off the tee. You are not stuck with the speed you have, however.

Speed is a skill. It is something you can improve. With focused work, you can get faster. While we can clearly see the relationship between how far you hit the ball and your handicap, I wanted to see what happened when a specific player gained or lost distance compared to their prior season. How much better or worse did they get? In order to qualify for this analysis, a golfer needed to play at least 25 18-hole rounds per year for two straight years.

For each "season", I calculated a players median distance for shots hit with driver. I was looking for players that gained at least 10 yards compared to the prior year, as well as players that lost at least 10 yards compared to the prior year.

For players that met this criteria, I looked at their average strokes gained per round for each year.

The Stats

Players that GAINED at least 10 yards with driver:

  • 81% scoring improved

  • 65% scoring improved by 1+ strokes per round

  • 44% scoring improved by 2+ strokes per round

  • 29% scoring improved by 3+ strokes per round

  • 17% scoring improved by 4+ strokes per round

Players that LOST at least 10 yards with driver:

  • 65%: scoring got worse

  • 45%: scoring got worse by 1+ strokes per round

  • 27%: scoring got worse by 2+ strokes per round

  • 15%: scoring got worse by 3+ strokes per round

  • 9%: scoring got worse by 4+ strokes per round

What Does This Mean For You?

As you can see, more than 4 out of 5 players that added at least 10 yards improved their scoring, with 44% improving by 2 or more strokes per round! That is a HUGE uptick. A general rule is that an increase of 10 yards will improve your scoring about one shot (this can vary for a given player).The charts below detail distance with driver by age and handicap. Take a look and see where you fall. I have personally gone down this road and have added a lot of distance to my tee shots. I've used three different programs and liked them all:

  • The Stack System

  • Super Speed

  • Clay Ballard's "20 Minute Distance Fix"

One thing that is important with any program is to have a device to measure your swing speed. Many people use a small device called PRGR. It does a great job at providing accurate club head speed. And the most important part of speed training is to try to move that club as fast as you can. Quality of contact is NOT what you should be focused on. I have literally swung and missed when speed training with my driver while trying to hit a ball. I am partial to speed training with my own driver while trying to hit a ball. For me, that has shown the most benefit. Again, you need to swing with the intention moving the club as fast as possible and not care about contact. If you are going to train for more speed, make sure you have incorporated a fitness program into your routine (please check with your doctor as well!). As someone that has speed trained, and has had several players I work with speed train, you might be surprised how quickly you can add distance. Gaining 10+ yards can easily be accomplished in 4-6 weeks for many people. Gaining distance will give you a great chance to lower your scores, plus it's just a whole lot of fun to hit it past your friends! Distance charts are below.

Thank you!!

If you are enjoying the newsletter, you might also enjoy the podcast I co-host. It's called "Hack it Out Golf".

We just finished releasing an 11-part series titled:
"Learn to Consistently Score in the 70s"

We just started a new 10-part series titled:
"Ultimate Guide to Gaining Distance"

We interview multiple experts and no stone is left unturned. You will add yards!

Please give it a listen!

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Thanks so much and have a great week!

— Lou