In my Golf World story on bifurcation there was mention of former USGA Executive Director David Fay's solution to the two-sets-of-rules discussion and now his proposal is posted as part of the March Golf Digest where the column appears.
Fay still says he no issue with the distance gains of the past 20 years, but for those who do and who want to see a ball rollback that the scientists is really, really hard to accomplish, Fay offers this handy solution...
If you're among those who believe the golf ball is going too far and too straight, there's a simple, surgical solution. Define and identify a new category of reduced-distance balls, and mandate the use of one of these balls whenever the one-ball condition is in effect.
Bifurcation? Sure, but so what? Adding one or two specialized equipment rules (bifurcation, with a lowercase b) to a one-ball competition will not signal the end of the game as we know it and will not damage the game's history, popularity and future growth in any way or at any level. Some low-handicap players might switch to the balls the big-leaguers play because they wish to. The rest of us? We might try one of the less-lively balls, suffer, and give up the experiment. But it will be our choice--just like deciding which tee markers to play. And we'll be playing according to the rules.
On the other hand, if the world's 65 million golfers are told to take one for the team (even with assurances that a reduced-distance ball won't really affect you because you're not good enough to see the difference), there'd be hell to pay.
And that's why it's probably the best solution put forward to date.
The USGA and R&A Rules of Golf would remain relevant, the pro tours would be kept out of the rulemaking business and an overdue solution to the costly and pointless distance chase can be implemented.
Furthermore, this gives ballmakers a new product to sell. In the case of the rolled back ball, the Classic Coke, it will be a big hit at older courses and with those who fancy themselves as elite players or who want to play a design closer to its intended shot values. New Coke may also be sold (though no older course in their right mind would open themselves up to safety issues when a shorter ball reduces liability).
I've long believed that after the initial thrill of buying non-conforming golf balls and the whispers make the rounds suggesting that the rolled back ball doesn't impact the everyday golfer very much if at all (assuming it is engineered well), we'd see New Coke will go the way of...New Coke.