Typically the older you get – around age 50 or so – the more your body deteriorates. Muscles begin to lose size and strength and those fast-twitch muscle fibers are no longer as quick as they were in your 20’s.
Growing up is zero…fun…sir.
Don’t tell these ‘old dudes’ still kicking it on the Senior Tour this though, because they are hitting the ball farther and with more power than they did back when they played on the PGA Tour. Is it steroids? Probably not.
Is it better technique? It’s likely their technique was always pretty good.
Is it the advanced equipment like drivers and irons? Bingo!
Guys like Fred Couples, Kenny Perry, Bernard Langer, and Scott McCarron used to average between 260-270 yards off the tee in their 30’s. Today’s pro’s like Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson would make these grown men cry when at the tee box, as they pound their 330-350 yard drives down the center of the fairway.
The modern golfer is now subject to longer venues since the equipment and athleticism have improved dramatically in the last 15 years. So how dramatic are these changes in distance for the old fellas? Let’s take a look:
Of all the past-PGA Tour players surveyed, Fred Couples showed the most improvement with the driver.
At age 31, two years before he won the 1992 Masters, Couples was driving the ball an average of 272.6 yards. But fast forward to 2015, the last time couples played on the Champions Tour, where he was driving the ball consistently 300 yards – that’s an increase of 10.2 percent.
You have to wonder what his reaction was to the first time he felt 300-yards worth of force coming off the club?
Langer, at 60 years old, is driving the ball on average at 280.4 yards. Exactly 30 years ago in 1987, the German would average just 260.3 yards with the driver. The man gained 20 yards of distance in 30 years. That may seem like a long time, but there are 30-year-olds today that wish they could sniff 260-yards plus.
“So Bernard Langer increased his driving distance by 20 yards, huh? Well, I’m going to increase mine by 25 yards!” – Kenny Perry (probably)
Perry’s driving average in 2017 is 295 yards, which is good enough to rank fourth on the Champions’ Tour. At age 30, Perry was only driving the ball at 270.8 yards, a 9-percent increase in distance.
Yes, John Daly used to be one of the first people to crush the ball 300-plus yards after he was established on the PGA Tour. But when he was 30 years old, he only averaged 288 yards off the tee. In 2017, Daly leads the PGA Champions Tour with an average of 299 yards off the tee. Not a significant difference for the 51-year old.
The fact that he can still “Grip it and Rip it” as far as he does is still pretty remarkable.
Imagine how much more the game can evolve in the next 10-15 years. Will we start to see guys with average drives of 400 yards at some point? Drives like that would have a 50-year-old McIlroy and Johnson looking back saying “Wow, I remember when my 300-yard shots were miraculous!”