Why Do Golf Balls Have Dimples? Getting Your Sports Facts Right | Kidadl


Why Do Golf Balls Have Dimples? Getting Your Sports Facts Right

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Sports are a great way of channeling the inner competitiveness of an individual.

Golf is one of the most popular sports, with players enjoying the scenic view of a large lush green lawn with multiple holes. But have you thought about why exactly golf balls have so many dimples?

This fun game involves a large course, a simple club, and a white golf ball with dimples. One hard shot, and the ball goes flying in the air. The only thing you can look forward to is your ball falling close to the hole. But do the presence of dimples on a golf ball's surface make an impact on the spin and gameplay?

A dimpled golf ball has a lot of science involved in it. The presence of these dimples forms a tiny air layer around the ball, which reduces the drag it experiences and instead assists in the ball's lift. The lift force is also affected, with the backward spinning motion causing the ball to rise higher in the air.

If you liked this, then read some other amazing information on why golfers yell fore and why your ears pop!

Why does a golf ball have dimples?

The regional popularity of golf is highest in Ireland, followed by the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Golfers just take one big swing, and off goes the dimpled ball, flying in the air. But what is the true purpose of a dimpled ball? These dimples form tiny air layers around the ball, which assist in the ball's lift.

Irregular or flat objects swoop through the air in a very inconsistent manner with a lot of fluctuations in their flight. Applying the same knowledge to golf, a smooth ball lacking in dimples would not have a smooth flight and might fly unpredictably through the air.

With an understanding of the aerodynamics behind the performance of a simple golf ball, dimple patterns are now tested carefully with the help of highly precise equipment to measure and design the optimal, accurate model which can provide the best control and reach the farthest distance.

How do dimples on golf balls affect their flight?

With dimpled balls, we know that a ball has a better flight. But how are the presence of dimples related to the force at which a ball flies?

With tiny dimples on the outer surface of a golf ball, it forms a tiny, thin layer of air surrounding the ball. This layer helps in reducing drag. This causes the air to flow over a much larger section of the ball, thus resulting in a much smoother takeoff.

Golf ball dimples also assist in lifting the ball. About half of the lift received is due to a backward spinning motion. When the spin of the ball is applied backward, the air pressure experienced underneath the ball is much greater than the pressure above. Thus, the ball rises more. The presence of dimples has been known to magnify this effect, contributing to almost half of the total lift.

Putting aerodynamic science to use, it was found that the presence of a dimple acted like a turbulator. These turbulators assist in causing turbulence in the layer of air surrounding the ball. This layer of air is called the boundary layer. Sometimes, the turbulent boundary layer is known to reduce the drag experienced by a ball, making it travel farther.

Now, if you know aerodynamics well, you will be aware of two types of airflow around any object, namely laminar and turbulent flows. Laminar flow has considerably less drag. However, this force is prone to separation, which causes the drag experienced by the object to increase rapidly due to the presence of eddies formed within the gap.

Turbulent flow, on the other hand, has more initial drag but is less prone to separation due to better adhesion. Thus, if an object's shape is prone to separation easily, it is recommended to turbulate the object's boundary layer while reducing the eddies. The presence of dimples on golf balls assists in turbulation and makes the ball fly better. The presence of dimples all around the ball creates symmetry, thus forming the same turbulence throughout the shape.

The dimples are measured depending on their depth. Quite often, the average depth is about 0.01 in (0.03 cm). Usually, dimples on the outer side of the ball are spherical in shape. However, some models have hexagonal dimples too. Removing the dimples could negatively affect the aerodynamics of the ball.

Manufacturers must make sure that the dimples on a golf ball are symmetrically arranged.

How many dimples are there on a golf ball?

Now that we know the purpose of dimples on golf balls, the next question that arises is how many dimples are there? Are there different-sized dimples on golf balls?

There is no standardized value for the number of dimples on a golf ball. It all varies based on the manufacturers. Golf ball dimples also vary according to the model. It has been observed that the total number of golf ball dimples present varies between a total of 300-500.

You may be surprised, but the record for the biggest number of dimples on the surface of a golf ball was 1,070! Just imagine how small the dimples must have been!

When exactly did the dimples on a golf ball appear?

Today's golf balls are seen with many dimples, but what is the story behind the discovery? Were dimples always present on a golf ball?

Well, the introduction of dimples on a smooth golf ball was actually by accident! It was back in the 1800s when the earliest golf balls were introduced. These balls were also called 'gutties' and were made with molded tree sap.

There were instances when golfers would dig up the balls. It was slowly discovered that the damaged dinged-up balls would travel much more smoothly than the newer smooth and undamaged golf balls.

After discovering the effect that each dimple could have on the ball, the makers of these balls began forming protrusions into the balls. Moving a few years forwards, in the 1900s, it was discovered that indentations in the balls gave a better performance than the previously adopted raised-protrusion idea. In the year 1905, William Taylor, an English manufacturer, registered for an exclusive patent for the design of a simple golf ball. Soon, golf balls began having multiple dimples all over them, much like today's design.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our article about why golf balls have dimples, then why not take a look at our facts about why boats float or why leaves fall?

Written By
Joan Agie

<p>With 3+ years of research and content writing experience across several niches, especially on education, technology, and business topics. Joan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Anatomy from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and has worked as a researcher and writer for organizations across Nigeria, the US, the UK, and Germany. Joan enjoys meditation, watching movies, and learning new languages in her free time.</p>

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