Most people know that golf balls are made to meet certain sizes and specifications and most people also know that these balls are filled with dimples. But have you ever wondered why they are made with dimples?
And do you have any idea how many dimples are on a golf ball?
The truth is that while the U.S. Golf Association (USGA) and other international golfing organizations set rules and regulations for golf balls, there is no set number of dimples that has to go on a golf ball.
In fact, while the USGA dictates that there has to be dimples on a golf ball, they do not dictate how many total dimples there should be. Nevertheless, golf balls today are made with 300 to 500 dimples total, depending on the manufacturer and many other factors.
To give you an example, the 2017/18 Titleist Pro V1 has a total of 352 dimples while the Titleist Pro V1X, which came out later that year, has a total of 328 dimples. The number of dimples always varies, so let’s take a look at some related aspects related to golf ball dimples.
How Many Dimples Are on a Golf Ball?
With 300 to 500 dimples on each golf ball, you might be wondering if that number is ever different. Well, it is. One manufacturer added a total of 1,070 dimples to their golf ball, which just happens to be the record!
That being said, most golf balls stick to the 300 to 500 range and if you’re wondering why dimples are on the balls in the first place, there is a reason.
You might think that dimples are put on a golf ball to make it look good but there is actually a scientific reason behind it. A smooth, dimple-free ball will produce more drag, meaning that the player will have much less control of how the ball lands on the green.
Dimples, on the other hand, add a small layer of air around the ball; therefore, air gets to a much larger portion of it. Why does this matter? Because with more air getting to the ball, it flies through the air much more smoothly, resulting in more control for the player.
Dimples also allow the golf ball to have more lift, especially when it is spinning backwards. In fact, as much as 50% of a golf ball’s spin is directly affected by the dimples it has, which is yet another reason why dimples are so important on a golf ball.
When a ball spins backwards, it gets a lot of lift and there is more air pressure underneath the ball than there is on top of it. Since the dimples on a golf ball enhance that action, it is easy to understand why they are such an important part of that ball.
Is the Size of the Dimples Regulated?
In addition to wondering how many dimples are on a golf ball, you might also be wondering if the dimples on the ball have to be a certain size or placed in certain positions.
Technically, they don’t have to be a certain size; however, most golf ball dimples are 0.010 in depth. The factors that can vary from one golf ball to another include the circumference and the exact shape.
In fact, while most golf ball dimples are spherical in shape, other balls, such as the Callaway HX golf ball, have dimples that are hexagon-shaped.
All of this doesn’t mean, however, that nothing about golf ball dimples is regulated by the USGA. In fact, dimples on a regulation golf ball have to have a symmetrical design as well as a specific depth and radius.
They do not have to be a certain shape or a specific circumference.
As you can see, each golf ball is made with a very specific design so that all golf balls used in tournament play are very similar, which gives each and every player the same odds of playing a good game and even of winning.
Have Golf Balls Always Had Dimples?
Believe it or not, golf balls have come a long way to the design they are today. In fact, in the mid-1800s, golf balls were actually made out of tree sap that had been molded into a round shape.
As you can imagine, the texture and shape varied with the type of sap used so there was little to no uniformity from one ball to the next. Nevertheless, players used them consistently.
Then, one day something happened. After the balls had been played with for a while, the players noticed that they were actually playing better with the dinged-up balls.
In short, there was more consistency with these balls than there was with a brand-new ball. Because of this, the makers of golf balls began etching protrusions that were slightly raised into their product so that the balls mimicked the dinged-up balls to play better.
They also experimented with different types of protrusions in the balls and by the early 1900s, golf ball manufacturers began noticing that indentions actually worked better than the protrusions they were using. Thus, dimpled golf balls were born.
You could say that the first modern-day dimpled ball came about in 1905 when an Englishman named William Taylor developed a golf ball with dimples in it. Through the years, the dimpled design was perfected until it resembled the dimpled golf balls used today.
Today, balls’ dimple patterns are scientifically tested using high-tech equipment in order to find the perfect design that will result in the best control and distance. It is indeed a very advanced process that guarantees that all golf balls have the same capabilities once they are played with by golfers.
And if you’re wondering how often the theory that golf balls need dimples is tested, know this: in 2014, a test conducted by representatives of GOLF Magazine and Titleist golf balls was conducted to test different golf balls with different numbers of dimples on them.
The results were not surprising. They used two balls: one that was smooth and one that had dimples on one side of it. Naturally, the ball with dimples did much better in all areas: lift, aerodynamics, spin, and just about everything else related to golf balls.
The bottom line is that golf balls need dimples in order to produce the best results. Since they have 300 to 500 dimples each, each golf ball is set up to perform equally and give the player more opportunities to play well and even win the game.
Again, they are not required to have a specific number of dimples but the 300 to 500 number seems to work well for the golf balls of today.
One more thing: before the golf balls were made out of tree sap, they were made out of leather that was then stuffed with goose feathers. So as you can see, golf balls have come a long way to where they are now.
From accidental discoveries to trial-and-error and lots of balls that ended up being thrown out, we’ve finally discovered the secret to a great golf ball. There is little wonder why we are still using dimpled golf balls today.
In fact, golfers have been playing with these highly technical dimpled golf balls since 1930 and even though they now come in lots of colors besides white and even a few new designs, they are still the same balls players used back then.
Until someone comes up with a reason to improve the golf balls used today, which is unlikely because they are essentially perfect, we can expect the same type of golf ball to be used for many years to come.
Golf balls have from 300 to 500 dimples each and these dimples affect their flight and the amount of control the players feel because of several reasons, but mostly because the air pressure is more perfect with dimpled balls than it is with smooth balls.
The USGA requires a certain depth and radius as well as a symmetrical design for all golf balls, but it doesn’t require that the dimples be a specific shape. Nevertheless, most dimples in most golf balls are spherical in shape, even though some have been hexagon-shaped.
The history of dimpled golf balls is amazing and you don’t have to be a golf enthusiast to be interested in discovering this information.
Dimples on golf balls essentially create a very thin air layer around the ball, something that doesn’t happen with a smooth ball, and this results in less drag and much better flight.
Who would’ve guessed that a thin layer of air could make such a difference? But it does, and this is why today’s golf balls have strategically placed, strategically designed dimples all over them.
Scientists and engineers can give you more information on why dimples work so well on golf balls but all you really need to know is that the air flow is improved with a dimpled golf ball; therefore, your game is greatly improved as well.
And since the USGA keeps an eye out on all of these golf balls, you don’t have to worry about that changing any time soon.
- Vice Pro Plus Golf Balls Review: Beginner Friendly
- Titleist TruFeel Golf Balls Review: Best To Start With
- Titleist Tour Soft Golf Balls Review: Soft For Longest Distance?
- TaylorMade Rocketballz Golf Balls Review: Most Affordable
- Callaway Hex Soft Golf Balls Review: Best For Beginner
- TaylorMade Noodle Long and Soft Golf Ball Review: Beginner Choice