With the news Tuesday that Rory McIlroy will not play Titleist clubs in 2013, the narrative shifts from his potential equipment supplier to a bigger, more significant query regarding his future: Should the Northern Irishman have stuck with the clubs that helped fuel his rise?
Six-time major winner Nick Faldo, appearing on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive,” on Tuesday, has already sounded the alarms for the upcoming equipment switch.
“I call it dangerous,” he said. “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.
“You have to be very, very careful. 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…
“I’d be very cautious. 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.”
That’s one of the most thoughtful takes we’ve seen on the topic, from a player who’s been in a similar position: at the top of the world ranking, faced with the decision of whether to cash in and change equipment, or stick with the clubs he used to win major championships.
For McIlroy, his new equipment is just the latest in a series of changes over the past 16 months. Since winning the 2011 U.S. Open, the 23-year-old has switched agents, taken up PGA Tour membership and, now, is close to signing with another equipment company.
The latter figures to be his most significant decision of all.