Although they’re often overlooked and underrated, golf balls can dramatically affect your game depending on how many dimples on a golf ball. Unlike the NFL, professional golf doesn’t require players to use a standard golf ball.
In fact, a wide range of modifications can be made to golf balls, which are meant to enhance the design and improve your game. The dimples, cover, compression, size, and core can all be modified.
Most people would be shocked to find out what materials are used to build the cores of golf balls. The dimples on a golf ball are some of the most important features, and the science behind these features and how they can affect your game is quite fascinating.
Why Are There Dimples In Golf Balls?
For many years, scientists have been studying what happens when a club impacts a golf ball. The research into this matter is meant to decipher the ball’s launch conditions. The problem is that the impact lasts for only a tiny fraction of a second but has the power to determine the ball’s entire flight trajectory.
In other words, the impact between the golf club and ball determines the ball’s spin rate, launch angle, and velocity. Once the ball is launched, the trajectory of the ball is steered by aerodynamics and gravity, despite the number of curse words that may leave the player’s mouth.
The major reason why golf balls have dimples is because dimples provide aerodynamic optimization, which is an integral part of golf ball development. When compared with a ball that doesn’t have dimples, a golf ball that does have dimples will travel nearly twice as far. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that being able to drive a golf ball further is a great skill to possess.
What is The Range of Numbers of Dimples from Ball To Ball?
Today, you’ll find that most golf balls have anywhere from 300 to 500 dimples, and the average depth of the dimples is around 0.010 inch. It’s important to understand that the drag and lift forces that interact with a golf ball are determined by the depth of the dimples.
If you were to change the depth of the dimples by 0.001 of an inch, it would cause a dramatic shift in the ball’s aerodynamic behavior. Since they started making golf balls with dimples, the dimples have almost always been spherical.
However, other shapes have been used and optimized for better aerodynamics. A great example is the HX golf ball, which is made by Callaway. This particular ball is made with hexagonal dimples and delivers performance comparable to what you would get from spherical dimples.
What Makes Dimples So Important?
Initially, golf balls are were crafted smooth balls. The whole surface area is a sphere with not an inch of dent or irregularity. Golfers cannot get any decent distance or an accurate flight trajectory out of these smooth balls. But as the balls got used more, the surface began to wear; the golfers noticed that the balls got more distance when they got more nicks and cuts.
By the 1800s, golfers stopped buying new balls and just used the old golf balls because it got more distance and improved their game. Manufacturers took note of this and started making golf balls with different patterns on the outer surface to replicate the flight, initial velocity and spin rate of nicked golf balls.
It was in 1905 that William Taylor introduced the first and modern dimpled-surfaced golf ball.
Although we can’t see it and might even forget it’s there, the air that we breathe is very real. If you need a refresher on the power of air and how it can affect objects moving through it, go outside and watch for a shooting star. It might be invisible, but air exerts a powerful force on objects that move through it.
Do Dimples on a Golf Ball Make It Fly Farther?
There are two main components of an air force. These components are called drag and lift. Drag is used by airplanes to slow down before landing, and it’s the force that directly resists motion. Lift is slightly different and aims to keep your golf ball grounded. In other words, it acts in a way that is perpendicular to the motion.
We’ve all stuck our hands out of a vehicle that is driving down the highway. The strong forces that you’ll feel on your hand are drag and lift at work. You might’ve also noticed that you can change these variables by closing your fingers together and rotating your hand.
Any moving objects will have an area of high-pressure on its front side. After the air impacts the front of the object, it moves towards the back and begins to separate from the object. Objects also leave behind a wake region, which is a space of agitated or fluctuating air. There will always be an area of low pressure behind the wake left behind by a moving object.
The total size of the wake determines the amount of drag the object sustains. A large wake places more drag on an object than a small wake. The dimples that you’ll find on a standard golf ball aim to create a thin layer of air around the ball’s surface.
This boundary layer that is created by the dimples clings to the golf ball and allows smooth airflow to wrap around the ball. The end result is a smaller wake zone, which means the dimples reduce the amount of drag on the ball. Dimples are also important because they affect lift. A smooth golf ball with a backspin acts very similarly to an airplane’s wing.
The ball’s spin is what makes the air pressure on the bottom of the ball greater than the air pressure on the top. The pressure imbalance is what produces an upward force and makes the ball go further. The two main factors that determine a golf ball’s lift are dimples and ball spin. Each of these factors contributes 50 percent to the ball’s total lift.
You also need to understand the difference between turbulent flow and laminar flow. Think of laminar flow is for a smooth surface. Turbulent flow is for a rough surface.
Think of the dimpled golf ball having turbulent flow around its surface area while the smooth ball has laminar flow around it. Traditionally, laminar flow offers less drag, and a smooth surface gives less resistance. However, in laminar flow, there is a ‘separation’ an area at the back of the object where the flow separates. The turbulent boundary layer also has this ‘separation,’ but because of the turbulence, the area is not as large as compared in the laminar flow
For golf balls, the smaller separation at the back in turbulent boundary layer reduces drag as compared to a laminar flow with a significant separation at the rear. So, this means the dimples on the ball make it fly farther than smooth-surfaced balls.
What Is The Magic Number Of Golf Ball Dimples?
Many nongolfers and amateur players usually ask – “how many dimples are on a golf ball?” Although there is no magic number, most modern golf balls have 300 to 450 dimples. Although there is no standard for golf balls, most products fall within this range. Unfortunately, when trying to make the perfect golf ball, there is no magic number of dimples.
It’s natural for some people to think that more dimples translates into better aerodynamics, but the reality is that any number over 450 runs the risk of producing too much drag on the golf ball. It’s also important to understand that the manufacturing process for golf balls can be quite tedious, so manufacturers have trouble keeping tiny golf ball dimples consistent.
It’s also worth noting that the dimples on a golf ball can become filled with grass or dirt. The number of dimples on a ball can be viewed as customization because the dimples determine how the ball moves through the air. While it’s possible to put 500 dimples on a golf ball, this number reduces the amount of potential trajectory customization.
How Many Dimples Are on a PGA Golf Ball?
Any number between 300 and 500 dimples is reasonable, and 336 is a common number.
Are All Golf Ball Dimples The Same Size?
Today, most golf ball manufacturers produce golf balls that have fewer dimples, and the dimples are usually made larger than in the past. Most balls are made this way because advanced players desire golf balls that deliver low spin and high launch.
Oddly, bigger dimples don’t automatically equate to a higher trajectory. The larger dimples on today’s golf balls are shallower than dimples on past designs. The reduced depth of each dimple helps to offset the larger size, and the end result is a much higher trajectory.
Players and golf ball manufacturers say golf is a game of inches, but when it comes to the dimples on the golf ball, it’s a matter of thousandths of an inch. A typical dimple on a golf ball has a depth of about 7/1000th of an inch. In many cases, changing this number by 0.001 of an inch can cause the ball to lose or gain several yards of distance.
Put simply, the dimples on golf balls are not always the same size, and the exact size and depth of the dimples are determined by the company that manufactures the ball. Some balls are made for specific situations and have a number of dimples that is larger or smaller than the standard of 336. If you’ve ever wondered how many dimples on a golf ball is best, it depends on the situation.
How Are The Dimples On Golf Balls Made?
Golf ball manufacturer already has pre-cast metal casing layer mold with small dimples when manufacturing golf balls. The core is set with the Surlyn process on the metal mold and then the urethane casing cover is applied around the core. The Surlyn process ensures that the urethane casing layer with the small dimples adheres to the core.
Most golf balls have a rubber core, and they’re molded into a spherical shape. Once the rubber cores of the ball are mold to exact specifications, a casing layer is applied to the cores. Since the casing layer is a pre-made cast, it’s molded to apply all of the dimples that the ball will have.
You can think of the casing layer as the master plate that a printing press uses to print money. After the casing layer has been applied and ground, the balls are coated with a polyurethane layer, which protects against all types of weather conditions.
Manufacturers even use coronal discharge to make sure the polyurethane coating adheres to the casing properly.
To understand it more thoroughly, these are the common golf ball constructions out in the market today:
- 1-piece golf balls: Low compression balls and they are usually made from a single solid piece of Surlyn and have dimples molded on them. They are the least expensive and are specifically designed for beginners and driving ranges.
- 2-piece golf balls: The solid core of these balls are made from high-energy resin or acrylate which is covered by a strong, cut-proof Surlyn material. These aspects make the 2-piece golf balls have the most distance.
- 3-piece golf balls: These balls have liquid or solid rubber cores, a mantle layer of strong rubber, and a molded cover of either urethane or Surlyn. They have a soft feel, offering you more spin and ball flight control.
- 4-piece golf balls: Each of the four layers in a 4-piece ball has a specific purpose and generally gives an excellent swing speed. Nonetheless, they all work together to give you the softest feel and the farthest distance.
- 5-piece golf balls: Much like the 4-piece ball, 5-piece balls offer a soft feel against the golf club even more spin, distance, the best swing speed among the five ball types and Tour-level performance. They are specifically designed for pro golfers.
What Do the Numbers on a Golf Ball Mean?
- A single-digit number under the brand name is for identification.
- A double-digit number represents compression.
- A triple-digit number represents the number of dimples the ball has.
After reading this, you should know how many dimples on a golf ball may affect your game and how the dimples affect the trajectory of every golf ball you hit.