I have come to the conclusion that some shots just aren't worth attempting. Sometimes Stroke and Distance is the easier way out.
1) the duffed tee shot that ends up rolling down a steep slope into a lateral water hazard. You're hitting out on a steep slope - lucky if your ball stays on it. Your local knowledge of the course says "f*** it." You re-load +2 strokes and stripe one down the middle of the fairway and get a B or DB. Be thankful. It could have been a snowman.
2) the shot that ends up in the tall fescue... deep in the tall fescue, but you know you can find it because you know the course. Your local knowledge once again tells you to abandon the ball and take a S&D and drop a ball and just hit a shot because hacking your way out of that thick dry grass is a total nightmare. Stop and pick up your first shot on your way... that $4 ball is still usable.
Now a pro or low handicapper might actually try these shots, but for us higher handicappers these make blow up holes. Stroke and distance can actually be a lifesaver at times. It is something that can always be used.
There is one reason to have the latest greatest equipment. If you love having no money in your bank account and can't afford to play golf anymore, then the newest clubs are a must have. Don't get me wrong if I have a club in my bag that is not working I will replace it. But I will buy last years model from a second hand seller, and still have way better equipment than Sam Snead or Bobby Jones ever played with.
You know, sometimes. I have found though that as I have improved, my times have gone way down. An hour and a half to walk nine. It used to take me over two hours. I don't hurry any more than I did, I read the putts the same, I still take a practice swing or two. I actually hurry less, I used to pick up on holes, or not even look for balls and just drop one. It's just that now I progress towards the hole significantly with each swing, balls are easier to find if they are usually in the short grass,
This past weekend, I hit a bucket before playing, the range is right next to the first tee, across a little drive. A couple got to the first tee in a cart just as I walked to the range. I hit a whole bucket of balls, crossed the road to the first tee, and they were still playing the first hole about 150 yds out from the tee, looking for balls, I think. Anyway, they waited for me on the second hole and let me play through, so I couldn't be mad. But wow.
FWIW, I had a long (forced) layoff from golf a few years ago. I basically had to start over from day one. The reason for my layoff required that I start slow, and easy. I started with my putter, and worked my way from there, back to the tee box. You can "google" learng the game backwards for more information. I know it works, because I have seen it it work with a few golfers.
Obviously getting quality, personal instruction is probably the better way to go. However, it's pretty difficult to find that quality instruction, unless you do your home work, and can find the right instructor, and more importantly have the time/money to spend with that instructor.