For PGA Players, Driving Now Beats Putting as the Most Lucrative Skill

As golf courses used by the Professional Golfers’ Association have changed in recent years—with the fairways getting longer, the grass height in the rough being cut shorter, and the cups being shifted to locations that are harder to reach—driving has replaced putting as the professional golfer’s top money-making skill, according to a study by Carson D. Baugher and Jonathan P. Day of Western Illinois University and Elvin W. Burford Jr. of Junior’s Shaft Shack in Forest, Virginia. Previous studies showed that putting was a player’s most lucrative capability, but drawing on recent PGA Tour data, the researchers found that a 1-standard-deviation increase in driving distance would have boosted a player’s earnings by an average of $671,779.15 in 2013, whereas the same relative increase in putting skills would have raised his earnings by just $510,195.91. Iron, chipping, and sand skills remain significantly less important than driving and putting.

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