Why the PGA Tour’s one-time leading bomber isn’t worried about the distance boom

It was only seven years ago that Luke List was the top driver on Tour, averaging 306 yards off the tee. This year, List has gained seven yards, averaging 313, but has dropped all the way to 21st in the distance rankings. So what gives? List appeared on this week’s episode of Subpar to explain to hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz how much the game has changed in just the past decade.

“I think there’s so many factors,” he said. “I think people are being coached better. Young guys are having better instruction from 5 years old or whenever they’re starting up, through amateur and junior golf, all the way to college. There was a handful of that when we were coming up, but it’s just evolved to everyone has the right instruction. Equipment is better, fitness is better. Across the board, everyone is doing the right things from a younger age, and that attributes to people bombing it now.”

Knost joked that these days, if you don’t hit it 300, you might as well start a podcast.

“Yeah, it’s crazy,” List agreed. “Obviously Bryson has kind of set the bar even higher, which is nuts, because I feel like, even when I’m trying to mess [around] — I know Tony [Finau] and a couple of guys can get to 200 ball speed. I can’t even touch that anymore, I’m too old. I can still move it a little bit. But I think the next generation, we’ll see more guys flying it 330, 340.”

Luke List tees off during a tournament.
One of the hardest things to do in pro golf? Luke List explains
By: Josh Berhow

List says he doesn’t begrudge the turn the game has taken, even as it has eroded his advantage.

“You still have to get the ball in the hole,” he said. “That’s been my biggest struggle, too. It’s nice to be able to hit the ball far — that’s a nice tool to have — and now that everyone’s doing it, it’s great. But eventually I think you still have to have all the shots, all the tools, and be able to find it, get the ball in the hole. For me, that’s still priority No. 1.”

For more from List, including the names he has for his irons, and the hardest thing to do in golf, check out his full interview below.

Jessica Marksbury

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.