The Local Knowlege

Gear & Equipment

Maybe the groove rule is working

By Mike Stachura

In my recent post comparing the statistics of the vaunted 1981 U.S. Ryder Cup team to its current edition, I suggested the U.S. team's performance in driving accuracy was relatively poor vs. the '80s hall-of-famers. The U.S. team's average rank in driving accuracy is 75, compared to the 1981 squad's average rank of 36.

What I didn't realize is that the average ranking in driving accuracy for this elite group of current U.S. players is improving, dramatically compared to recent years as a matter of fact.

Look at these numbers for the the previous five U.S. Ryder Cup teams. In terms of average rank in driving accuracy for the 12 best U.S. players in a given year, here's how bad they've been:

2002: 98
2004: 102
2006: 92
2008: 112
2010: 98

This may be of no interest to anyone but me. Still, if the average rank in driving accuracy of this elite group of players is now 25 percent better than it has been, does that say anything about the impact of the groove rule, which went into effect in 2010? Maybe, maybe not. In the grand scheme of things, the PGA Tour driving accuracy average is actually worse than it was before the groove rule. But the average of those most successful? It seems to be suddenly improving.

But it's still a long way from 1981.
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