I think the newer equipment helps a lot for people who can't practice much. Before last year, I was only golfing 3 times a year. I was using a standard size driver and could only hit the fairway about one in five tries. I bought a TM Burner and first time out without ever swinging it I was hitting almost every fairway and driving as far as everyone else I was playing with and farther than most (Scramble with two 4 man teams playing together).
I know I didn't improve overnight so it had to be the new driver that did it. I think that was the turning point for me. I was so awful before, that I didn't really have any passion for the game. Once I started hitting 250 yard drives down the middle, it started getting a lot more fun. I only have an 85-90mph swing speed so I will probably never get to the point where I can hit 300 yard drives but at least now there is always a chance and that is enough to keep me going.
Balls make a big difference as well. I like to use a low spin distance ball like the Noodle+, or a more forgiving ball like a Penta or ProV1x. I can definitely see a difference between certain balls even at my skill level. If I try to hit a ProV1 off the tee I am in the woods most of the time.
My next investment will be a set of game improvement irons. Right now I am using a set of Allied (I guess they are blades) that I bought from a guy at work for 50 bucks. I'm thinking either TM Superlaunch or Calloway Diablo Edge. If they can improve my iron play even half as much as the driver did for my long game then I will be exstatic esthatic really really happy.
So maybe there is some hope after all, not to be great, but at least to have a respectable game.