Golf is a multimillion dollar sporting industry that spans the globe. It is one of the most difficult sports to master because a player must master multiple skills. The equipment that is used also makes a difference to a player’s game. Hours upon hours of research has gone into creating high quality clubs and balls that help players to achieve those difficult shots. One of the most distinctive pieces of golf equipment is the dimpled ball. Let’s take a look at why they are made this way.
Why do golf balls have dimples?
Golf balls are small, lightweight spheres made from various materials such as rubber, titanium and plastic. The rules of golf state that the golf balls must not weigh more than 1.620 oz (45.93 grams) and not have a diameter less than 1.680 in (42.67 mm).
One of the unique things about a golf ball is that it is covered with round indentations known as dimples. These dimples are designed to help the ball travel further and give it a more consistent flight path by reducing the pressure drag. When a golf ball is hit it travels through the air. The air exerts pressure onto the ball causing drag. The more drag that is created the shorter the distance the ball will travel. A smooth ball has more surface area exposed to the pressure drag, whereas a dimpled surface causes the air to flow around the ball more easily allowing it to travel further. The dimples capture small pockets of air and help the ball to continue to spin thus creating greater lift. Originally, golf balls were smooth; but golfers noticed that older balls that were beat up with nicks, bumps and slices in the cover seemed to fly further.
The following video shows how dimples affect the air flow over the golf ball:
Did you know?
- Most golf balls on sale today have about 250 – 450 dimples
- Officially sanctioned balls are designed to be as symmetrical as possible
- Polara golf creates asymmetrical balls that help the ball self-adjust its spin-axis during the flight. These are designed to fix unwanted golf swing problems (such as slicing or hooking the ball). However, these balls were made illegal for tournament play.
- Dimples on golf ball can be circular, rectangular, square or hexagonal