Golf Ball Dimples – Why do golf balls have them?

Ever wondered how or why the golf ball dimples came about?

We did. So we did some research into both the history and science behind the reasons…

Wooden golf balls dimples not in sight

Wooden golf balls dimples not in sight

Golf Ball Dimples – The history…

The reason why golf balls have dimples is based on both science and evolution.

Originally, all golf balls were completely smooth.

However, once the ball had been used a few times and they were peppered with cuts and nicks.

Then Golfers started to notice these ‘damaged balls’ travelled further than new ones.

Those little bumps and cuts while not looking good ‘on the eye’, meant there was an advantage to be had….

Golfers naturally gravitate toward anything that gives them the edge on the golf course, so old golf balls became the norm.

However, Golf Ball dimples really started to take off after English engineer and manufacturer William Taylor, co-founder of the Taylor-Hobson company, registered a patent for a dimple design in 1905.

Golf Ball Dimples

Image courtesy of www.aerospaceweb.org

Golf Ball Dimples – The science…

With all things aerodynamic, it takes a little knowledge to understand the core principles.

When a golf ball is hit, the impact, which lasts less than a millisecond, determines the ball’s velocity, launch angle and spin rate.

In turn, this influences its trajectory (and its behaviour when it hits the ground).

Essentially, the nick and cuts in the ball make the balls ‘oscillate‘ in flight.

This allows the smoothly flowing air to follow the ball’s surface a little farther around the back side of the ball.

As such, a layer of air acts as a ‘turbulator’, otherwise known as the “boundary layer”.

The benefit is that a turbulent boundary layer reduces drag.

And naturally, the less drag, the quicker the ball travels and the closer you are to the hole after your shot!

Golf Ball Dimples – The design…

Most golf balls on sale today have about 250–450 dimples though there have been balls with more than 1000 dimples.

The record holder was a ball with 1,070 dimples—414 larger ones (in four different sizes) and 656 pinhead-sized ones

The two balls shown on the right are disclosed in U.S. Patent 4,560,168. They are both easily made with a two-piece mould.

Golf Ball Dimples - designs

Golf Ball Dimples – designs

Officially sanctioned balls are designed to be as symmetrical as possible.

This symmetry is the result of a dispute that stemmed from the Polara Golf Ball

This ball sold in the late 1970s that had six rows of normal dimples on its equator but very shallow dimples elsewhere.

This asymmetrical design helped the ball self-adjust its spin axis during the flight.

The USGA refused to sanction it for tournament play and, in 1981, changed the rules to ban aerodynamic asymmetrical balls.

Golf Ball Dimples – The Movie

Anyway, enough of our ramblings, there are plenty of great videos to watch on the subject, here’s one we found earlier….Golf Ball Dimples Video

So now you know!

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By Ian Mullins

 

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