I hope you and your family are well and coping with these difficult and unusual times. If you are a key worker – thank you for all that you’re doing for our community.
Many of us have found that we’ve a lot more time on our hands, now that the golf clubs, gyms, cinemas, churches etc are closed. If you’re like me, you’ll have spent more time on the Internet recently. You know how it is – you’re working from home and you Google a term you’re unsure about… while you’re reading about it you spot a link to something more interesting, so you click on that… 15 minutes later you’ve managed to click your way onto a golf website!
Anyway, I started reading about golf balls yesterday. Why do golf balls have dimples? It’s all to do with science, or rather physics to be more precise. Apparently golf balls were smooth in the 1800s, but golfers noticed that older balls that had scuff-marks, nicks, bumps and slices in the cover seemed to fly farther and more consistently than the smooth “gutties”. Golfers, being golfers, naturally gravitate towards anything that gives them an advantage on the golf course, so old, scuffed balls became standard issue. Golf ball manufacturers began etching raised lumps into balls. In the early 1900s, another inventor found that indentations in golf balls performed far better than these protrusions. In 1905, an English manufacturer named William Taylor registered a patent for a golf ball dimple design and before long all golf balls featured dimples that would be more or less recognisable today.
So, here’s the science. Basically, the dimples create turbulence in the layer of air immediately surrounding the ball and this reduces the drag, therefore the ball will travel further and more consistently that a smooth ball.
A dimpled golf ball not only accelerates faster than a smooth one, but it can also attain more lift, provided there is significant backspin on the ball. Backspin makes the air move backwards faster on the top of the ball than at the bottom, thanks to the dimples. Again, this dimple design creates a region of low pressure above the ball and one of high pressure below the ball, which provides more lift to keep the dimpled ball airborne a little longer.
If you want to know more, listen to the experts:
How Many Dimples on a Golf Ball?
The truth is, there is not a single answer to this because the number of dimples varies depending on the model and manufacturer. Most often, the number of dimples per golf ball falls between 300 and 500.
For example, the 2017/18 model of the Titleist Pro V1 had 352 dimples on it, while Titleist’s other premium ball from the same year, the Prov V1x, had 328 dimples.
The record for the most dimples on a golf ball is a whopping 1,070.
Most golf balls have spherical dimples – but not all. Callaway’s Hex balls have hexagonal ones!