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This is how far you need to hit your driver to be 'average'

October 26, 2022

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One of my favorite statistics of all time is from a AAA study that grabbed headlines a few years ago: That 80 percent of men consider themselves an above-average driver. A statistical impossibility which, in a nutshell, highlights that lots of people are really bad at correctly evaluating their own ability.

Which brings us to golf, where the same things hold true. Golfers are really bad at evaluating their own abilities, especially in one specific area: The distance they hit the ball. Time and time again golfers overestimate how far they hit their ball from tee-to-green. It causes them to come up short, which makes golf more difficult and less fun.

In some ways, it doesn't matter how far you hit the ball, only that you know how far you hit the ball. So, in the humbling pursuit of truth, let's look at some Arccos data to see how far you need to hit your driver to be considered average.

Average Driving Distances, by handicap (male)*

> 20 handicap: 205.2 yards

15-20 handicap: 211.2 yards

10-15 handicap: 220.4 yards

5-10 handicap: 230.3 yards

0-5 handicap: 237.8 yards

< 0 handicap: 239.6 yards

*According to Arccos data

Average Driving Distances, by handicap (female)*

21-28 handicap: 141.5 yards

13-20 handicap: 155.0 yards

6-12 handicap: 177.5 yards

< 6 handicap: 196.7 yards

*According to USGA data

These numbers from Arccos align quite closely to the data the USGA released as part of its distance report last year, which you can see from female golfers above. And if the distances are shorter than you expect—well, that's sort of the point. Sure, your good drive might travel further than any of these, but remember that these are averages. A good drive might go further, but a topped drive, or a duck hook into the trees, needs to be factored in, too.

Playing the distance on your best swings is what causes golfers to come up short so often as Butch Harmon explains in his recent Golf Digest schools series (which you can watch right here).

It's playing to your averages, however humbling they may be, that will help your score at the end of it.