Old vs. New Golf Equipment

Rory McIlroy Compares old & new Drivers to see a Vast Difference

Ahead of the Genesis Scottish Open, Rory McIlroy decided to experiment with an old persimmon wood driver at the Renaissance Club’s driving range. Having the old vs. new golf equipment allows us to see exactly how much it impacts the game. The results, while not surprising, highlighted the significant impact of technology on golf, particularly over the last three decades.

For many years, wooden drivers and woods were the preferred choice until steel and metal drivers emerged, followed by titanium and carbon alternatives. The contrast between the two is striking. Wooden drivers are far less forgiving, generating more spin and less ball speed. Accuracy was crucial, and players like Nick Price and Greg Norman found success during their era by driving the ball straight with persimmon.

Based on launch monitor data, McIlroy’s drive with the persimmon driver had a ball speed of 168.6 mph, carried for 255.7 yards, and had 4410 rpm of spin.

In contrast, on the PGA Tour, McIlroy’s average drive is 327.6 yards with a ball speed of 184.5 mph, earning him the top spot. The actual driving distance is likely about 60 yards less.

Jokingly, McIlroy commented on the ongoing debate about modern equipment’s influence on the game, suggesting a need to “roll back the clubs, roll back the ball, roll back everything.”

While trying out the persimmon wood, McIlroy acknowledged that swinging it is different compared to a 460cc metal driver. It requires hitting the ball in the center of the clubface since the persimmon wood has a much smaller head.

McIlroy’s friend, John Morgan, owns the old persimmon wood company and is attempting to revive its popularity. McIlroy enjoys the cool throwback experience, noting that golfers can play different tee boxes when using old equipment. McIlroy showed us exactly why you no longer see professionals using wooden drivers. When it comes to old vs. new golf equipment, the old simply can’t compete.

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