By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Rory McIlroy’s decision to switch equipment -- McIlroy and Titleist and FootJoy parent company Acushnet announced Tuesday they will part ways at the end of this year when McIlroy’s contract expires -- is certainly nothing new.
Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Graeme McDowell and Sergio Garcia are just a handful of big names to have left one company for another in recent years. Nick Faldo did, too.
“I call it dangerous,” Faldo said Tuesday on Golf Channel. “I’ve changed clubs and changed equipment, and every manufacturer will say, ‘We can copy your clubs; we can tweak the golf ball so it fits you.’
“But there’s feel and sound as well, and there’s confidence. You can’t put a real value on that. It’s priceless.”
Just ask Jim Furyk.
Two years ago, Furyk won three times and captured the FedExCup trophy. A little more than a year later, he flirted with falling out of the top 50 in the world. Part of Furyk’s struggles? Tinkering too much with his equipment.
There was also the late Payne Stewart, who left Wilson for Spalding and then endured a season-long slump in 1994, falling sixth on the money list in '93 to 123rd a year later.
“You have to be very, very careful,” Furyk said. “You easily could go off and do this and it messes you up because it just doesn’t quite feel the same. When you’re striping it, it’s fine. But as soon as doubt comes in…
“It was a product of maybe trying to get a little bit longer, maybe trying to find new ways to improve and maybe then hurting my strengths. Trying to make my weaknesses better but in doing so, hurting your strengths, which is rule No. 1. You don’t do that.”
Faldo, a six-time major winner, offered similar advice to McIlroy.
“I’d be very cautious,” Faldo said. “I’d love someone like him, in his position, to sell the bag. That bag is worth a fortune; it’d be on TV all the time. Stick with the clubs that you know best, that you believe the best.
“It’s really important. It’s the feel and confidence of knowing that your equipment will perform how you want it to perform on Sunday afternoon. You can’t mess with that at such a young age.”