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General Knowledge

Why Golf Balls Have Dimples?

The advancement of technology has played a vital role in making golf balls more aerodynamic and effortless to play. While manufacturers design them to perform differently, they are all round and covered in dimples. Leading me to the most frequently asked question I get, why golf balls have dimples? 

In this post, we will look at different dimple designs and help you find the right ball.

Why Do Golf Balls Have Dimples?

Before I show you examples of different designs, let us answer why golf balls have dimples? When it glides through the air, dimples encourage turbulence around the outer layer of your ball. The turbulence helps to reduce drag and results in your shots carrying further.

Before golf ball dimples, players used a rubber one-piece core ball that would drop out of the sky without warning.

Who Invented Golf Ball Dimples?

In 1905, William Taylor, an engineer from Leicester, England, invented the dimple golf ball. More than 120 years later, we are still using his invention to design golf balls. 

In the early 20th century, golfers realized that the more they used their rubber core ball, the longer it would go. The blemishes enhanced the aerodynamic ability of the ball. This discovery meant that golfers were purposely disfiguring the balls to increase their distance.

The vandalism of golf balls gave Taylor the uncanny idea to design a ball with round dimples that would revolutionize ball flight. In 1906 he filed a patent for the golf ball dimple design, although only officially approved in 1908.

Patent filed in 1906 by William Taylor for the first golf ball with dimples

How many dimples on a golf ball?

The quantity of dimples in a ball varies. A Titleist Pro V1 is fitted with 352 dimples, whereas its cousin, the Pro V1x, has 328 dimples. Callaway Supersoft houses 332 dimples. While the Dunlop e5 carries 432 dimples

titeist pro v1x golf ball has 352 dimples in the post why golf balls have dimples
Titleist Pro V1

There is even a ball with 1070 dimples aptly named Dimplit 1070. I have never been able to purchase these balls and have been unable to verify the claim that it is the longest in golf.

dimplit 1070 golf ball has 1070 dimples. It helped the ball to go further in answer to the question why golf balls have dimples.
Dimplit 1070 has more dimples than any golf ball ever made.

Are more dimples on a golf ball better?

The answer is no. It depends on what you desire the most. Are you looking for more carry or a higher rate of spin? In my experience, I have found balls with more dimples to get airborne faster than those with less.  

For example, the 432 dimples added to the Dunlop e5 give you quicker lift and longer distance. It is useful for golfers that struggle to generate sufficient ball speed at impact. 

Are all golf ball dimples the same?

No, not all golf ball dimples are the same. While the original dimples were round in appearance, there are now several options available to you. Manufacturers create dimples in the shapes of quadrilateral dipyramids, hexagonal, and tetrahedral catenaries.

All these shapes serve to give your ball a better flight. Balls with quadrilateral dipyramids provide a penetrating flight giving you more roll. They are best suited for links-style courses.

Hexagonal-shaped dimples feature throughout the cover of the ball, removing flat surfaces found between round dimples. Finally, hex dimples further lower the risk of drag and unwanted sidespin.

Golf balls with tetrahedral catenary dimples also provide consistent ball flight. However, the dimples are shallower than the other designs.

What Golf Balls Should I Play With?

Yes, dimples are the reason a golf ball can travel swiftly through the air, but I wouldn’t make my decision based on them. When shopping for golf balls, I always recommend that you get fitted for the most suitable option.

More so than dimples, you should consider the materials and the overall performance of the ball. 

Factors to Consider When Buying Golf Balls

Cover

Most golf balls have either a urethane or ionomer cover. Urethane offers you a softer feel at impact and increased spin on shots into the green. The majority of premium quality balls have urethane covers. 

Great examples of premium balls are, the Titleist Pro V1x and Taylormade TP5x. Both balls have a urethane cover. You will notice that both these balls claim to offer low long game spin and drop shot control with your short game. It is made possible by a combination of a soft urethane cover and a casing crafted from ionomer. 

pro v1x golf ball has 328 dimples and features in the post why golf balls have dimples
Pro V1X golf ball has 328 dimples

Ionomer is a polymer material used to enhance the distance of your golf shots. You will often find that entry-level and mid-range balls have ionomer covers. In my experience, the material is not as durable as urethane. 

the taylormade tp5x golf ball has 322 dimples
Taylormade TP5x golf ball has 322 dimples

Ball Fitting

As I mentioned, it is always advisable to get fitted when purchasing balls. However, if you don’t have the time before your next round, you can try out the Bridgestone Ball Selector Tool

If you don’t have a video or data from a launch monitor, you can plug in some of your performance attributes to see what type of ball is best suited for your game. 

If you have a slow-motion video of your swing, you can submit it and, Bridgestone’s experts will analyze it and recommend the right ball for you. Finally, those of you with launch monitors can input your past data and, the tool will determine a suitable golf ball.

While this tool will only recommend Bridgestone products, you can use the analysis to find the right ball from any brand.

With that said, I still highly recommend that you visit your coach, local pro, or golf retail store to get a thorough fitting.

Performance

What do you want your golf ball to do? Do you want it to go further, do you want it to spin more or, do you want both? Think about your game, your home course, and what you need your ball to do.

If you play on a course with tight pin positions that require a shot-stopping spin, then look for a soft feeling ball with high spin rpm on approach and short game shots. 

The fastest spinning golf balls for short game shots that I have played with are the Pro V1x and the Callaway Chrome Soft.

If you play on long layouts, you may want to consider balls with lower long game spin. Out of all the balls I have hit in the last 12 months. It was the Callaway Supersoft that produced the lowest backspin rpm. 

With my driver, I averaged just over 1400 rpm. With the same club, I was averaging 2700 backspin rpm with a Pro V1. The Supersoft is an all-round ball. With a wedge in hand, my backspin rpm was on par with that of a Pro V1.

Conclusion On Why Golf Balls Have Dimples?

Thankfully there were enough quality golfers that managed to keep a ball for long enough to notice that the more cuts it had, the better it performed. The next time you see your golf ball flying through the air, know that that is why golf balls have dimples.

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