Golf Balls and Their Dimples

By Anupum Pant

A golf ball is full of those cute dimples. Wouldn’t it have been better if they were clean and smooth with none of those tiny little bumps on their surface. Do these tiny bumps even really serve a purpose? Turns out, they do!

On a normal golf strike, a smooth golf ball would have reached 130 yards at most. Whereas a dimpled one travels more than twice as much – About 300 yards. What makes the difference? The dimples, of course. Aerodynamics!

A smooth ball has no lift. A dimpled one on the other hand is able to create a turbulent flow around it which provide it with a significant amount of lift. Such a ball can easily reduce the drag created by the air around it and is able to fly for longer.

The size, shape and number of dimples on a golf ball affect the amount of drag force it can reduce. So, different manufacturers have different parameters for their golf ball dimples. The more number of dimples you have, the more number have to fit on the ball’s surface and more desirable it is to reduce the drag. That means, each dimple has to be small and a point is reached where there are so many dimples that the ball is effectively a smooth one. So a sweet spot needs to be hit in order to optimise the flight of the golf ball.

The sweet spot lies somewhere in between 300 – 500. So, any ball with number of dimples less than 300 or more than 500 is not optimised for performance. So, most manufacturers have around 350-450 dimples on their golf balls. 336 dimples is believed to be a totally optimised number. Others believe that it has to be more than 380.

Back in the day when people did not really know about this, they had smooth balls and the flight of such a ball was something they weren’t impressed by. So now they had scratched golf balls, and then we had balls with dimples.

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