2011 YTD PGA Tour Scoring Average on Par-5’s: 4.68
1983 (furthest back this stat was kept): 4.78
Here’s part of my feeling on the subject…
Currently PGA Tour pros are about 30% more accurate on approach shots from the fairway than from the rough. So if a Tour player hits it from a certain distance on average (say 150 yards) from the rough to 30 feet, then on average they will hit it to 21 feet from the same distance, just the fairway.
I think back in the day that discrepancy was even bigger. Probably in the 50% range. The equipment wasn’t as easy to escape from the rough from, the rough was longer and probably not as well manicured.
I think where the big difference was is in the par-5’s. I think now guys can bomb a driver on a par-5 and make out more than okay. Back in '83, you needed to find the fairway on a par-5 or you were going to have a tough go at it to make part.
In '83, Nicklaus led the Tour in par-5 scoring average (big surprise ) with a 4.62 average. Currently there are 39 players at 4.62 or better on par-5’s. I think if one wants to take the advantage that reckless bombers get in the game…toughen up the par-5’s.