Will a Change in Equipment Make You Better or Worse at Golf?

Kathy BissellCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2011

SAN ANTONIO, TX - OCTOBER 29: Kenny Perry follows through on a tee shot during the first round of the AT&T Championship at Oak Hills Country Club on October 29, 2010 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)
Darren Carroll/Getty Images

Surprisingly, the quick answer is both. Just ask Kenny Perry who is getting ready for his first full season on the Champions Tour. 

After having a banner year in 2008 and playing on the Ryder Cup team in his home state of Kentucky, he followed up with another great performance in 2009, making the Presidents Cup team. He won more than $4 million each of those two seasons.  Then his game fell into a dark hole.

“I struggled equipment-wise this year,” Perry said about his 2010 season. “I had a driver that spun too much. I had irons I was not happy with.”

Perry made the catastrophic error that happens to players of all levels. He changed equipment and it did not work for him. He didn’t change companies, just models of Taylormade clubs.  

“I played an r7 the last five years, one set,” Perry said.  That included two $4 million seasons.  “Now the square groove rule comes into effect.  I tried I guess 20 sets of irons this year.  I played some blades, but I’m a perimeter weighted guy.”

Nothing he used in 2010 worked for him until he tried out some 2011 models in December.

“I was 30 yards farther back (off my drives),” he explained. “Bunkers I used to carry in the air, I was having to shape it around them. All year it was very frustrating. 

“I thought I’m just old. I’m 50. You’re going to lose it. Eventually the power’s got to go away. But you know what? It was just equipment,” he said with relief. ”I had the wrong shaft, the wrong head.”

Enter a new set of designs.  The new 2.0 irons and new Superfast driver.

“Taylormade come out with new v-grooves, 2.0s, and I put the 2.0s in the bag. They’re very similar to my r7s and now my flight is back.  The ball’s spinning nice,” he said in mid- December. He has his line and trajectory back where they should be.

“I went to the new Superfast driver which takes less spin off the golf ball and I went to the new Red Eye Aldila shaft, and the combination fit me,” He explained.  He tested them for a week prior to the Shark Shootout. 

“I knew immediately I had something,” he added. “I’m definitely encouraged about next year.

“It’s a fine line on tour,” Perry said. “One shot, two shots a day is everything. You give away four shots each tournament, you’re way back.”

Importantly, he also had his distance back.

"Now I’m hitting it to where I hit it last year (2009). I can attack the par fives again,” he explained. “This year ( 2010) I was always playing defensive. I could never seem to get the driver moving.”

Not only is it “moving,” he’s even able to keep up with or out hit some of the young players.  He cited an experience with Jeff Overton at the Shark ShootOut. 

“He out drove me 20 to 30 to 40 yards this year,” Perry said at the Shark ShootOut. “Today I was even with him or past him all day.  So to me, immediately my distance has jumped tremendously.”

Perry has four of the Superfast drivers.

“You can’t really adjust these,” he said, but adjusting them was not as important to him as getting his game back.  “I knew immediately when I hit it. On the first shot on the range, ‘Uh-oh this driver’s got some life.’”

After changing clubs, Perry played at the Shark ShootOut, paired with Fred Funk.  In the second round, Perry had with six birdies in a row on his own ball, leading Funk to quip, “If we were playing him, we were commenting, Calc (Mark Calcavecchia) and Jeff (Overton) and I, we would have been six down after six holes.”