How much does driving distance help the golfer? The obvious, and correct, answer is "a lot", although you'll still find those willing to vigorously dispute it. Perhaps that's because instructors broadly have done a dismal job teaching distance, so they both downplay its importance and claim that it's a "god-given" talent. Much more on the latter will be covered elsewhere.
But, the correlation between driving distance and lower scores is indisputable. Here is an illuminating chart prepared by Trackman, that shows a very strong statistical correlation between club head speed and handicap:
At the professional level, Mark Broadie in his book Every Shot Counts uses his strokes gained methodology to derive an estimated value for an additional 20 yards of driving distance. He is quick to note that his estimate demands a judgment on how much accuracy will be lost as a result of the distance gain, so his is a "guess", not a statistically derived truth. However, before we delve into the...
The Golf Films documentary Hogan relies extensively, and far too much, on the commentary of Dan Jenkins and Curt Sampson in its segment devoted to the infamous Glen Garden caddy championship of 1927. Chapter 2 - Childhood of Hogan as it Happened: Setting the Record Straight, available in the free preview, goes into great detail documenting from contemporaneous sources what actually did and didn't happen on the afternoon of December 23, 1927.
Somewhat surprisingly, the event was well covered by a local newspaper, the Fort Worth Morning Register, in its December 24 issue, and an image of the paper's extensive coverage, including a picture of the champion and runner-up, is included in the documentary:
Here is the same page, downloaded from the newspaper's archive, enlarged and annotated:
Here is a closer look at the article that discusses the results of the tournament, and it appears the folks at Glen Garden had a sense of humor: "Junior Williams, one of the smallest...