By Mike Stachura

With Joe Miller’s mind-boggling distances in winning the World Long Drive Championship on Wednesday, it may make some wonder just what his mile-long hitting spree says about the state of driving distance in the game today.

While it’s true that Miller’s winning drives in the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals averaged a nearly off-the-grid 433 yards—blowing away the field and blowing up Twitter in the process—let’s remember that the setup at Oklahoma’s WinStar Resort and Casino was decidedly downwind and decidedly firm. Still, the winning drive was pretty remarkable.

iller’s numbers may have been a freak show, but what does it say about the state of driving distance and human potential today? As the PGA Tour begins its 2016-’17 season, it might be worth a review of where distance stands after one of the longest-hitting years in recent memory. We say “one of” because believe it or not the 2015-’16 final tally for distance was not the longest year on record for driving distance on the PGA Tour, as early forecasts suggested it might have been. The average for the year was an even 290 yards, trailing the all-time mark set in 2011 of 291.4.

A deeper dive in the PGA Tour numbers shows that distance by all sorts of metrics was above average for last year, compared to the average of the preceding 10 years. But it wasn’t that much out of line with where things have been for the last decade. Let’s look at five categories:

Driving distance
The 2015-’16 number was 1.42 yards higher than the 10-yard average. But it was just one yard more than it was in 2006.

Number of drives longer than 360 yards
There were 760 in 2016. That’s not an all-time high, but 25 percent higher than the 10-year average. There were eight drives of 400 yards or longer, including a 414-yarder from Justin Thomas.

Percentage of drives more than 320 yards (only on measured “driving holes”)
The number last year was 8.71, well above the 10-year average 8.364, but well below several other years that were more than 9 percent (2007, ’09, ’11, ’12). This may be an indication that players aren’t hitting driver as much on the measured driving holes as they used to, but the PGA Tour doesn’t report club choice. (The latest statistics on that trend reported by the USGA in March indicate that driver was used 94 percent of the time on measured driving holes in 2015, up from 93 percent of the time in 2012.)

Percentage of all drives more than 320 yards
This may be the most telling number for 2015-’16. About one of every 14 drives was more than 320 yards (7.24 percent). That’s significantly above the 10-year average (6.19 percent) and an all-time high.

So where does this leave us after Miller’s gun show in Oklahoma on Wednesday night? Miller seems part James Bond heavy/part Captain Marvel with his 6-foot-4 frame and 122kg of coiled fury. His ball speeds were well north of 322 km/h. For perspective, the highest ball speed recorded on the US PGA Tour in 2015-’16 was Andrew Loupe (below) at 306 km/h.