How Driving Distance Has Changed Over the Past 40 Years on the PGA Tour

How Driving Distance Has Changed Over the Past 40 Years on the PGA Tour

In 1997, John Daly became the first golfer on the PGA Tour to average more than 300 yards per drive (302 to be exact). That year, he was more than 30 yards longer than the average Tour player.

In 1980 (the first year that the PGA Tour’s driving distance stats are available), Dan Pohl led the field while averaging 274.3 yards per drive. The Tour average was a meek 256.89 yards.

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Since then, the average driving distance has steadily increased, rocketing upwards in the ‘90s and early 2000s. For 13 years — from 1994 until 2006 — the average increased every year, which is the longest such string since 1980. During that stretch, Daly led the Tour off the tee eight years in a row.

While the progress has cooled off some since the mid-2000s, the average driving distance has increased every year since 2013.

Now in 2021, Bryson DeChambeau's average of 320.8 is more than 18 yards longer than Daly's. In fact, the entire PGA Tour's average is almost at the 300 yard mark. This year's 295.3 yard average is the second longest ever (second only to 2020’s average of 296.4 yards).

Don’t be surprised to see the Tour’s average actually break 300 yards by 2024.

For reference, this is what the PGA Tour says about its method for recording this stat: "The average number of yards per measured drive. These drives are measured on two holes per round. Care is taken to select two holes which face in opposite directions to counteract the effect of wind. Drives are measured to the point at which they come to rest regardless of whether they are in the fairway or not."

Here’s the average driving distance and overall leader for every year since 1980:

Year - Average Distance (yards) | Leader - Leader's Average

2021 - 295.3 | Leader: Bryson DeChambeau - 320.8
2020 - 296.4 | Leader: Bryson DeChambeau - 322.1
2019 - 293.9 | Leader: Cameron Champ - 317.9
2018 - 295.29 | Leader: Trey Mullinax - 318
2017 - 292.79 | Leader: Rory McIlroy - 316.7
2016 - 291.06 | Leader: J.B. Holmes - 314.5
2015 - 290.21 | Leader: Dustin Johnson - 317.7
2014 - 289.85 | Leader: Bubba Watson - 314.3
2013 - 288.00 | Leader: Luke List - 306.3
2012 - 290.07 | Leader: Bubba Watson - 315.5
2011- 291.14 | Leader: J.B. Holmes - 318.4
2010 - 287.49 | Leader: Robert Garrigus - 315.5
2009 - 288.07 | Leader: Robert Garrigus - 312
2008 - 287.74 | Leader: Bubba Watson - 315.1
2007 - 289.08 | Leader: Bubba Watson - 315.2
2006 - 289.35 | Leader: Bubba Watson - 319.6
2005 - 288.88 | Leader: Scott Hend- 318.9
2004 - 287.32 | Leader: Hank Kuehne - 314.4
2003 - 286.30 | Leader: Hank Kuehne - 321.4
2002 - 279.84 | Leader: John Daly - 306.8
2001 - 279.35 | Leader: John Daly - 306.7
2000 - 273.18| Leader: John Daly - 301.4
1999 - 272.45 | Leader: John Daly - 305.6
1998 - 270.63 | Leader: John Daly - 299.4
1997 - 267.67 | Leader: John Daly - 302
1996 - 266.49 | Leader: John Daly - 288.8
1995 - 263.55 | Leader: John Daly - 289
1994 - 261.84 | Leader: Davis Love III - 283.8
1993 - 260.36 | Leader: John Daly - 288.9
1992 - 260.52 | Leader: John Daly - 283.4
1991 - 261.44 | Leader: John Daly - 288.9
1990 - 262.75 | Leader: Tom Purtzer - 279.6
1989 - 261.81 | Leader: Ed Humenik - 280.9
1988 - 263.50 | Leader: Steve Thomas - 284.6
1987 - 262.50 | Leader: John McComish - 283.9
1986 - 261.58 | Leader: Davis Love III - 285.7
1985 - 260.18 | Leader: Andy Bean - 278.2
1984 - 259.61 | Leader: Bill Glasson - 276.5
1983 - 258.65 | Leader: John McComish - 277.4
1982 - 256.89 | Leader: Bill Calfee - 275.3
1981 - 259.66 | Leader: Dan Pohl - 280.1
1980 - 256.89 | Leader: Dan Pohl - 274.3


Bunker to Bunker is joined by Justin Creighton of the AZ Biltmore GC to discuss the 10th Annual Fall Frolic Golf Tournament!