Potentially the most distinguishing factor about the golf ball is its dimples. Some brands have different patterns or designs, but all modern-day golf balls have dimples.
Is this part of the rules? Can a golf ball be played without dimples? Please stick with us for a few minutes and learn everything you need to know about golf ball dimples.
Did Golf Balls Always Have Dimples?
Like many other great inventions in history, dimples on a golf ball were discovered accidentally. Throughout history, golf balls took on many different designs. At one point, they were even constructed with feathers inside them.
As golf grew, people started to realize that a golf ball with cuts and scratches in it would fly further and straighter than a new and smooth golf ball. Golf balls began to be produced with raised bumps on them until the very early 1900s. In 1905 the first patent for a dimpled golf ball was filed, and the rest, as they say, is history.
What do the Dimples on a Golf Ball do to Ball Flight?
A great alternative to this question is, what would happen if there were no dimples on the golf ball? This experiment was conducted by Titleist several years back, and the result was a line drive type shot that wavered on its line. The ball only went about half as far as a dimpled ball, and the ball flight was not nearly as high.
The dimples on a golf ball help with both lift and drag. There are some serious scientific definitions and explanations that go into why a dimple helps a golf ball fly correctly.
Very simply stated, if a golf ball were smooth, the air would flow quickly over the top and create quite a bit of turbulence behind the ball. This turbulence would cause a tremendous amount of drag on the ball and force it down from the sky sooner. With the dimples, some resistance is created, which leads to less drag and keeps the ball flying higher and longer.
This concept is precisely why the early golfers noticed that an older, less perfect golf ball was much more effective than the perfectly smooth option they just purchased.
Are There Different Dimple Patterns and How Do They Affect Ball Flight?
Most golf ball dimples are spherical. They follow a pattern, and generally, one will be shallow, followed by a deep dimple across the surface of the golf ball. Major manufacturers seem to be more likely to change materials or interior makeup of a golf ball before they alter the dimple pattern.
Several years ago, Callaway came out with a golf ball that had a dimple pattern that was in the shape of a hexagon. This was the first time this had been seen, and it has worked well for them as opposed to the traditional sphere shape that most other companies use. The actual shape of the dimple is not a factor that you need to consider when choosing the perfect golf ball for your game. Most will perform relatively the same.
How Many Dimples Are on a Golf Ball?
The average golf ball has about 336 dimples on it. Most have anywhere from 250 to 500. The interesting thing about dimples is that they must be symmetrical, but there is no limit to how many you can have on a ball.
There was once a golf ball created with 1700 dimples on it. Considering it is no longer being produced, you can imagine the technology behind it was nothing to speak of.
How Many Dimples Will Work Best for My Game?
If all this talk about golf ball dimples has you thinking that the number of dimples on your ball could be causing your slice, you are probably looking for a solution in the wrong place.
Although golf ball design and features will vary within the acceptable limits, most golf balls will perform equally well over an extended period of time.
That being said, choosing the right golf ball for you can be related to feel, swing speed, and personal preference. If you have never tried it, Bridgestone golf has a great fitting tool on their website that will help you narrow down which Bridgestone ball is best for your game.
Indeed, this guide will only feature the Bridgestone brand, but you can apply what you learn about your golf ball needs to other companies.
The reason that golf balls have dimples is really a lesson in science. Had those early golfers not noticed the difference between the cut golf balls and the smooth ones, we may still be struggling with perfectly round golf balls. Dimples give the golf ball the correct amount of lift and drag to promote the best possible result with each swing.
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Nick Lomas is the founder of GolfSpan, an avid golfer, not quite a pro but has over 15-years of experience playing and coaching golfers from all over the world. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience then it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game.