Right, are you concentrating because we’re going to hit you with a sentence of such gasping complexity, you could be in danger of choking on your own brain while reading it. Ready? Here we go.

“Golf balls that conform to the MLR must not exceed the current Overall Distance Standard (ODS) limit of 317 yards (plus three yards tolerance) at modified Actual Launch Conditions (ALC) with a clubhead speed of 127 mph and based on a calibration set-up for 11 degrees and 37 revolutions per second (2220 rpm) as part of this proposal.”

If you’ve not keeled over, then congratulations. So, what the Dickens are we on about? Well, the above quote is part of a joint proposal from golf’s global custodians, the R&A and the USGA, aimed at reining back the distance the ball can travel at the elite level.

In a simplified nutshell, the proposal is a Model Local Rule (MLR) that would give tournament organisers the option to require the use of distance-reducing balls that have been tested under modified launch conditions. This would, according to the technical gurus, reduce distances by some 15 yards for the biggest hitters with the fastest clubhead speeds.

The plans, if adopted by the industry, would come into place in January 2026. The new specifications would have no impact on recreational golfers so you and I can just carry on blasting our super-charged balls 340 yards down the middle.

At the top end of the men’s game, of course, the distances that are being reached has caused much fevered debate. Classic courses are becoming obsolete and reduced to a drive, pitch and putt in this crash, bang, wallop age of technological advance and increased athleticism while various venues and famous holes have been expanded in an effort to combat the howitzers. In three weeks, when The Masters gets cracking, we’ll all get to see the facelift of Augusta National’s iconic par-5 13th, which has had 35 yards added to it.

The lengthening of courses, meanwhile, has brought important environmental concerns to the fore with the need for more water and chemicals in the maintenance process.

“At the elite male level, both amateur and professional, we have crossed the Rubicon with regards to where hitting distance is but more importantly to where it is trending,” said Martin Slumbers, the chief executive of the R&A, who noted that there is no urgency at the moment for the MLR in the elite levels of the women’s scene. “It’s our responsibility to propose changes that protect the long-term integrity of our sport. Doing nothing is not an option.”

With findings and data from the comprehensive Distance Insights Report, which for golf aficionados is as racy a read as Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the game’s ruling bodies have been embroiled in pain-staking and wide-ranging consultation over the last six years and have finally pieced together a proposal they feel can temper an issue for which there is “no magic answer”. They had mulled over a policy targeting club design but that would’ve proved hellishly bothersome.

“A MLR on the driver would impact multiple clubs,” added Slumbers. “The unintended consequence could be 3-woods or other clubs that perform better than drivers, thus multiple clubs would need changing.” Instead of that, they have settled on urging change to the balls that the elite players hit.

In this complex wrangle, you’ll never please everybody. “Martin and I will get 50 per cent of calls that say, ‘is that all you're doing?’, and 50 per cent of the calls will say, ‘I can't believe you're doing that’,” said Mike Whan, the chief executive of the USGA.

The proposal has now been sent to equipment manufacturers who have until the middle of August to provide feedback. There will no doubt be some heated to-ing and fro-ing to come yet. ‘Twas ever thus. 

Back in days of yore, when the Scottish professional Allan Robertson was making featherie balls, the emergence of the gutta percha rendered his own manufacturing business obsolete. “It’s nae gowff,” Robertson grumbled as he lamented the march of progress.

Time will tell how this latest development in the stick and ba’ game goes down.