PGA Tour pro Chris Kirk has raised eyebrows among the industry by explaining advances in golf driver and golf ball technology have NOT caused the current distance boom we are currently witnessing in the game.
Kirk averaged 295 yards off the tee during his PGA Tour rookie season in 2011, ranking him 56th in driving distance. Fast forward seven years and the four-time winner is now down in 155th and is a touch shorter than he was at 291 yards.
In the eyes of Kirk, it is the firmer and faster playing conditions of golf courses, and players hitting the gym that has accounted for a rise in distance - and not technology.
“The driver and the ball don’t go any further than they did eight years ago,” Kirk said at this week's Dell Technologies Championship. “That’s the thing that everybody is missing.”
Kirk also compared the boom to what has happened in professional baseball, with players better understanding the science of their swings.
“It’s like they’re hitting on Trackmans now, just like we do,” Kirk said of MLB players.
“All these guys have figured out launch angle, spin rate, they’re hitting home runs. The ball is not different. The bat is not different. Guys are going to get better at every sport. Every professional sport, it doesn’t matter, guys continue to get better, that’s just the way it goes. I don’t see where did why everyone has such an issue with that.”
Golf's governing bodies the USGA and R&A are closely monitoring distance trends in recent years, explaining the increase in driving distance is a threat to the game.