With Respect To Innovation Head Room...

In a Copley News Service story titled "Driving For Green," we learn about the state of the golf ball business and its future. It's mostly a look at Titleist's dominance and how much the golf ball has impacted the game (oops...they're not supposed to say that...it's the agronomy, stupid!).

Here's the good part. After explaining how a ball rollback would be detrimental to the game (well, maybe someone's bottom line), we get this:

Any rollback would make it difficult for golf ball makers who spend big bucks on research and development to improve their products, said James Hardiman, an analyst who covers Callaway for FTN Midwest Research. "That's the big fear," Hardiman said. "It's not only will the USGA limit future technological advances but whether they'll roll back the standards of today."

Even now, there is a real question about how much better balls can be made within the current USGA specifications. But manufacturers like Callaway and Titleist insist that they are continually working on improvements.

Callaway's Yagley said the company's HX balls use a hexagonal dimple pattern as opposed to a more conventional round pattern to provide golfers with better aerodynamics as a way to distinguish itself.

"They'll see our HX golf balls stay in the air a little bit longer," he said. Still, golf ball makers also admit that the sea change seen with the switch from wound core to solid core balls will probably not occur again anytime soon.

"With respect to innovation head room, we believe that the limits placed on golf ball performance by physics and current regulations leave very little room for additional distance gains," said Acushnet's Nauman.

That fact may make it harder for ball makers to differentiate their products, especially for those trying to challenge Titleist. "The big player in the golf ball business is clearly Titleist and it remains to be seen if anyone can put a dent in their business," McAndrew said.

So please, help me here because I'm just kind of naive.

If you are the big player, and your position is that there will be little room for innovation or gains, why not solidify your dominance by supporting a rollback that only impacts top level players?