Why Do Golf Balls Have Dimples? (All You Need To Know)

If you've ever seen a golf ball you will notice that it has loads of small indentations on its surface. These little craters are called dimples and they are really important for golf ball aerodynamics. A smooth golf ball just won't work when playing golf, so we have to use a dimpled golf ball.

Why does a golf ball have dimples? 

Early golf balls were smooth. As golfers used the same balls over and over on the golf course, they started to notice that the more beat-up golf balls were traveling farther than their new, smooth golf ball! These golf pioneers realised that the nicks, bumps, and slices were helping them play better. Now, all a golf ball manufacturers put dimples on golf balls. Physicists have since scientifically proven that a dimpled golf ball will perform much better than a smooth ball making it much easier to play golf.

refurbished golf balls

Avoid smooth looking golf balls. They don't work!

Golf ball dimples aerodynamics

The presence of dimples on golf balls induces turbulence in the surrounding airflow, leading to a reduction in drag and an increase in lift if designed properly.

Two types of airflow, laminar and turbulent, coexist around the golf ball. While laminar flow causes minimal drag, it is prone to "separation," where the air layer sticking to the ball separates from it as it moves through the air. On the other hand, turbulent flow initially creates more drag but is less susceptible to separation.

In the past, when golf balls had a smooth surface, separation occurred easily. At high velocities, maximum adherence of the air layer to the ball is crucial. The dimples present on the surface of the golf ball create a turbulent boundary layer, enabling the air to stick to the ball for a longer duration.

How many dimples does an average golf ball have?

According to Scientific American, most golf balls have 300-500 dimples on their surface. The famous Titleist Pro V1 golf ball has exactly 388 dimples. This number and their special dimple pattern make the ball spin and perform in a consistent way.

How big are golf ball dimples?

The size of golf ball dimples can vary, but they typically range from around 0.010 to 0.020 inches (0.254 to 0.508 millimeters) in diameter. The depth of the dimples can also vary, with depths typically ranging from 0.001 to 0.005 inches (0.0254 to 0.127 millimeters). The exact size and shape of the dimples can impact the golf ball's aerodynamics, affecting factors such as drag, lift, and spin. Manufacturers carefully design the size and pattern of the dimples on a golf ball to optimize its performance in terms of distance, accuracy, and other factors.

How long do golf balls last?

The lifespan of a golf ball can vary depending on several factors, such as the quality of the ball, the frequency of use, the storage conditions, and the environment where it is played. Generally speaking, golf balls can last anywhere from a single round to several years.

If a golf ball is hit with high velocity or struck on a hard surface, such as a cart path or tree root, it can become damaged or even cracked. Also, if a golf ball is left in harsh environmental conditions, such as extreme heat or cold, it can also lead to the degradation of the ball's materials and affect its performance.

To maximize the lifespan of a golf ball, it is recommended to store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and to avoid hitting them on hard surfaces whenever possible. If a golf ball shows signs of damage, such as cracks or deformations, it is best to replace it. Overall, golf balls are designed to last for multiple rounds if used under proper conditions and handled with care.

ProV1 392 golf ball

An old Titleist Pro V1 with 392 dimples. 

How many dimples on a golf ball Titleist

Titleist have developed nearly 2000 unique dimple design patterns for their array of golf balls. Titleist balls are the most used on the PGA tour.

Here's a list of the dimple numbers on some of Titleist's golf balls:

  • Titleist Pro V1 golf ball - 388 dimples
  • Titleist Pro V1X golf ball - 348 dimples
  • Titleist Pro AVX golf ball - 348 dimples
  • Titleist Velocity golf ball - 328 dimples
  • Titleist Tour Soft golf ball - 364 dimples
  • Titleist TruFeel golf ball - 376 dimples

How many dimples on a Callaway golf ball

Callway golf balls are famous for their unique hexagonal dimples. Their balls are used by players like Phil Mickelson and Xander Schauffele.

Here's a list of the dimple numbers on some of Callaway's golf balls:

  • Callaway Chrome Soft golf ball - 332 dimples
  • Callaway Chrome Soft X golf ball - 332 dimples
  • Callaway Supersoft golf ball - 332 dimples
  • Callaway Warbird golf ball - 332 dimples
  • Callaway CXR Power golf ball - 332 dimples
  • Callaway CXR Control golf ball - 332 dimples
  • Callaway ERC Soft golf ball - 332 dimples

Final thoughts on why do golf balls have dimples?

Playing a dimpled ball makes golf possible. If you were to use a golf club to hit a smooth ball, you would soon see how hard golf could get - if wasn't hard enough already! Make sure you take notice of a golf balls dimpled pattern next time you play - it's a small wonder of the game. 

Last Updated on May 10, 2023 by Matt