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 dimples in golf balls create turbulence which, if done right, reduces drag, making it go farther and increasing the golf ball's lift.

The mixed airflow is of two types: laminar and turbulent. Laminar movement creates less drag but is vulnerable to "separation”— the phenomenon whereby the air layer that clings to the ball as it moves through the air separates from the ball. Turbulent flow creates more drag initially but is less vulnerable to separation. When golf balls were smooth, separation happened easily. 

At high speeds, you want the air layers to cling to the ball as long as possible. The dimples on the turbulent boundary layer make this happen.

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.

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 August 4, 2022 by Matt