The golf ball that we know today might seem a fairly straightforward piece of kit, but the reality is something quite different. Over the centuries, players have looked to improve, refine and completely redesign the balls used for golf, and the chances are that even the best golfers in the world would struggle to manage a round with the wooden, smooth balls that were in use back in the 18th century!
Today’s golf balls are instantly recognisable, mainly because of the many dimples that cover the outer casing of the ball. There can be anywhere between 300 to 500 dimples on a golf ball – it all depends on what design has been used and what rules and regulations the ball needs to comply with, if any. And they’re not simply there to make the golf ball look nice!
The dimples on a ball are what help to give it lift when it is struck by a club. The number, size and design of the dimples affect the aerodynamic properties of the ball while it is in flight and therefore have an impact on the trajectory the ball takes and the distance it travels. Even a very small change in the design can make a difference. As the ball travels through the air, the dimples have the effect of creating a layer of turbulence around the outer layer of the ball and this in turn helps to reduce drag. And it is this reduction in the amount of drag created as the ball is in flight that helps it to travel further than an equivalent smooth ball would be able to.
So the next time you’re standing on a course preparing to tee off, just give a thought to all those hundreds of little dimples that are helping to improve your game!