Why Do Golf Balls Have Dimples?

It is technology taken for granted but in this piece we aim to explain why golf balls have dimples.

It is technology taken for granted but in this piece we aim to explain why golf balls have dimples.

Why Do Golf Balls Have Dimples?

The dimples on a golf ball seem like a peculiar design but believe it or not they have a huge impact on how a golf ball performs whether it be in terms of size, shape, depth, and whether they are there in the first place.

In this piece we have looked to explain why they are so important.

Dimples on a golf ball are so important because they help create turbulence in the layer of air around the ball which reduces drag and therefore makes the ball fly further.

It is widely believed that a golf ball without dimples would fly about half the distance of a golf ball with dimples because of this technology. This is because dimpled balls create about half the drag of a smooth ball.

Related: What Is Inside A Golf Ball? (opens in new tab)

Many golf ball manufacturers research dimple technology because any slight change to the design of dimples has a huge impact on the performance characteristics of a ball.

For example the lift and drag forces on a golf ball are very sensitive to dimple depth. Some research has shown that a depth change of 0.001 inch can produce a radical change to the ball's trajectory and the overall distance it can fly.

This also explains why brands try out different dimple shapes like spheres, circles, or even hexagons.

Additionally brands experiment with how many dimples they put on golf balls to see if there are any advantages in having more or less of them. Usually the best performing balls have between 300 and 400 dimples.

So dimples take a variety of different forms on golf balls but what is clear is how important they are to modern golf especially in terms of distance.

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Sam Tremlett
Senior Staff Writer

A golfer for most of his life, Sam started playing the game to prove he was the best player out of his father and two brothers.
He quickly became a golf equipment expert and has always been the one family and friends come to for buying advice, and spends a lot of his time putting golf gear, apparel and shoes to the test.  
He is a graduate of Swansea University where he studied History and American Studies, and he has been a part of the Golf Monthly team since February 2018. He also previously worked for World Soccer and Rugby World magazines.

A jack of all trades across print and digital formats, Sam now spends most of his time testing and looking after golf gear content for the website. He also oversees all Tour player content as well. 

Unfortunately, Sam is not a member of any club at the moment but regularly gets out on the golf course to keep up the facade of having a handicap of five. 

Sam is currently playing:
Driver: Titleist TS3
Fairway Wood: TaylorMade M5 (15 degrees), Nike Covert Tour 2.0 (19 degrees)
Irons (4-PW): Titleist AP2
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 54˚, 58˚
Putter: Scotty Cameron Circa 62 #6