John Spitzer from the U.S. Golf Association spoke to Golf Channel staff today to further explain the new groove rules. I felt this reasoning cleared up what perhaps is a common misconception.
Spitzer said they did not put the new grooves in place to simply penalize golfers from missing the fairway. If that was the case the USGA would have moved the out of bounds stakes closer to the fairway and would’ve just assessed a penalty stroke. In the same token, they didn’t want to grow the rough either by a few inches to cause an automatic disadvantage to the golfer. Instead, they wanted to add the question back into it. When a golfer is out of position off the tee they want the golfer to assess his options instead of just gouging the ball out of the rough and finding the green.
After testing an array of scenarios (U groves, V-like grooves, and no grooves) with players of all levels, the USGA, jointly with the R&A, determined that the V-like grooves are the best way to add the question back into the game.