Golfweek's Alistair Tait says the USGA/R&A braintrust is way too late on the grooves and distance issues, with little hope for a happy resolution.
However, it doesn't take a Ph.D. to recognize that the game has changed immeasurably, no matter what the governing bodies tell us. Yes, the objective of getting the ball into the hole in as few strokes as possible hasn't changed, but the means of doing so have.
It wasn't that long ago that John Daly was the only player to hit drives over 300 yards, now every Tom, Dick or Bubba seems to be able to do that.
You can't blame the equipment manufacturers. It's not as if they went out and broke the rules. They acted within the guidelines laid down by the governing bodies. After all, it wasn't the manufacturers who changed the specifications to allow square grooves, but the governing bodies.
Moreover, golf's two ruling bodies sat blithely by as manufacturers experimented with metal woods, graphite shafts, long putters, and did absolutely nothing.
Now they are trying to turn back the clock.
It can't be done. All this talk of rolling back the ball is just that. Try doing that and watch the writs fly. And rightly so. If I was a ball manufacturer who had acted within the rules laid down by both the R&A and USGA at all times, I'd be pretty ticked off if they turned round to me and said, "Oh, by the way, we've made a small mistake and we need you to change the way you produce your product."
The words, "Get my lawyer on the phone" spring to mind.
This grooves rethink isn't the start of some technological fight back. As far as I'm concerned they are merely putting a sticking plaster on a gaping wound.
We are where we are. The genie is out of the bottle and can't be put back in because there is no way the R&A and USGA can fight the manufacturers in the courts. All they can do now is try to draw a line in the sand.
Now, we all know that the R&A was utterly useless until recently, and the USGA was held back by the R&A's incompetence on equipment issues along with that messy legal situation where each of their members could be named in a manufacturer lawsuit. We also know that in testing areas, the USGA has been slow to keep up with the manufacturers (by their own admission).
So wouldn't a simple "sorry, we goofed, this has to be done for the good of the game" apology go a long way in this discussion?