Distance is king these days. With the boom of analytics coinciding with fitness and equipment advances, there is an arms race taking place in gyms and on ranges across the world. Bryson DeChambeau has taken this conquest to the utmost extreme, but his success has sparked a dialogue on the topic that is discussed on an almost daily basis.
That said, there is still a place in the game for plodders. In fact, of the four golfers who have won multiple times this season — Brendon Todd, Collin Morikawa, Webb Simpson and Justin Thomas — only Thomas ranks inside the top 100 in driving distance. Bombs might generate headlines, but (this season, at least) precision has proven to be more important.
“I think the fact that three guys have won multiple times this year being outside the top 100 in distance just proves yet again that you don’t need distance,” Thomas said at The Northern Trust. “Yeah, it’s helpful, but it makes me cringe and it really bothers me when whoever says that, you know, the golf ball or everything needs to be rolled back because there’s plenty of people that are still performing well that don’t hit it as far.
“It is quite an interesting stat,” Thomas continued. “I loved it when I saw it because that just kind of proves yet again that length is not the answer. It’s just helpful. Still got to get the ball in the hole.”
The most extreme example of the argument for accuracy over distance is Todd. During a career renaissance over the last year, Todd has claimed two victories and put himself in contention on several other occasions. He’s done all of this despite averaging just 281 yards off the tee, ranking outside the top 200 on Tour. Thomas lauded the 35-year-old’s game and called him one of the best players in the world over the past year.
Thomas also shared that because of the premium he puts on accuracy, he’s dialed back his equipment in an effort to hit more fairways. He estimates that he carries it five to eight yards shorter than he did last season.
“I’m just trying to play from the fairway more,” Thomas said. “I feel with my iron game, if I get in the fairway, I can win more tournaments.”