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Driving Distance on the PGA and LPGA Tours, 1993-2012


  • Douglas Coate



In this paper I examine driving distance on the PGA and LPGA tours, 1993 to 2012. I use piecewise regression to identify separate periods of change in the annual average driving distance - year relationship. These are: 1993 – 1999, 1999 – 2000, 2001 – 2003, and 2003 – 2012. I argue that improvements in the driver in the 1990s are primarily responsible for the increase in driving distance in the first period and that the limitations placed on the trampoline effect of the driver face for 1999 by the USGA effectively ended the distance premium from new driver technology. Then, in 2001, the introduction of the three piece ball resulted in additional gains in driving distance until changes in testing procedures in 2003 enabled the USGA to more effectively control golf ball distance. The faster swinging men pros benefited more from the three piece ball than did the women in terms of driving distance, while each benefited equally from the improved driver technology. Fixed effect estimates indicate that there has been some crowding out of shorter drivers by longer drivers on the tours since 1993.

Suggested Citation

  • Douglas Coate, 2013. "Driving Distance on the PGA and LPGA Tours, 1993-2012," Working Papers Rutgers University, Newark 2013-003, Department of Economics, Rutgers University, Newark.
  • Handle: RePEc:run:wpaper:2013-003

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Douglas Coate & David Goldbaum, 2004. "Skills, Purses, and Performance in Professional Golf," Working Papers Rutgers University, Newark 2004-007, Department of Economics, Rutgers University, Newark.
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    More about this item


    PGA; LPGA; golf; driving distance;

    JEL classification:

    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism

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