Like most tech in golf, golf balls have come a long way and undergone many rounds of enhancements since the inception of the game.
Modern day golf balls are unrecognisable compared to older golf balls. There was even a period of time where the game was played with leather balls filled with goose feathers! It’s fair to say the concept has evolved significantly since then.
One thing that hasn’t changed for a while though, is that all golf balls have dimples.
Whether you’ve played the game for years or are a complete newbie to the sport, you may not understand why golf balls have dimples or may find yourself wondering how many dimples golf balls have! It’s a simple question, but the answer isn’t as straightforward.
In this article, we’ll explore the answer and explain everything you need to know about golf ball dimples.
How many dimples do golf balls have?
The truth is that there is no single answer to the question of how many dimples a golf ball has. This is due to the fact that the number of dimples varies depending on the model and manufacturer of the golf ball, as well as where you are in the world!
However, the average number of dimples per golf ball is usually somewhere between 300 and 500. 336 dimples is said to be the most optimal number.
Others feel it must be greater than 380. But between 300 and 500 is where the sweet spot is. As a rule, any ball with fewer than 300 dimples or more than 500 dimples is not considered optimised for performance. As a result, most golf ball manufacturers have between 350 and 450 dimples on their golf balls.
If you ever find yourself with a little too much time on your hands, you can count the number of dimples on your golf ball to get a rough idea of where it came from. It’s believed that American golf balls have fewer dimples on average than British golf balls.
Why do golf balls have dimples?
For many years, people assumed that smoother golf balls would travel further. They eventually discovered, however, that despite exerting maximum force, the aerodynamics of a clean ball wouldn’t fly the necessary distance.
The air passing through a smooth surface, such as a flawless golf ball, causes it to travel in an irregular manner, according to science.
Without getting too technical, when a plain or smooth surfaced ball travels through the air, the air flowing around it doesn’t meet up nicely at the back of the golf ball. The path of air over the top and the path underneath split up and create an area of turbulence behind the ball that eventually slows it down.
Even if golfers would be able to replicate a consistent swing, with a smooth surfaced golf ball, there would be no consistency to the ball flight for this reason.
But if you take a ball with a rough or textured surface, the air flowing around it sticks to the ball longer until the air almost meets up again neatly at the back.
Dimples on a golf ball exist to create a rough texture to the ball and thus form a small layer of air surrounding it, which reduces drag. Unlike smooth surfaced balls, which swivel in the air, these extra dimples assist the ball in gaining flight and moving ahead in a smooth manner.
The fact that the air doesn’t split so early means that there is much less drag at the back of the ball, which means it isn’t held back and therefore flies much further through the air.
The dimples on the golf ball also assist it in gaining lift off the ground by creating a large air pressure beneath it. When a golf club strikes the ball, it spins backward, and the dimples considerably help it in rising upwards.
The shape, pattern, and depth of the dimples can make a difference, too. Most golf balls have round dimples, but some brands now use hexagonal dimples which are designed to lessen the drag even further.
How big are golf ball dimples?
While the number of dimples varies depending on the manufacturer, the depth and size of the dimples remain consistent. The typical depth of a dimple is 0.010 inches, while the circumference of the dimple varies by model.
There are several manufacturers who experiment with different dimple shapes and sizes. However, the entire concept will be thrown off if the dimples are not organized in a symmetrical order in accordance with the precise depth range.
The dimples of most golf balls are usually arranged in a pattern that is the same all over the entire ball. However, back in the 1970s, one company made golf balls that featured a special design where the dimples were deeper in some parts of the ball than in others which helped the ball correct itself in flight.
These types of golf balls were banned from use in competitions but they can still be bought for private use if you require that extra helping hand on the golf course.
How much do golf balls weigh?
For much of the game’s history, golf ball weights have radically changed. The most consistent element about earlier golf ball designs dating back centuries was the irregularity of their weights, shapes, and sizes.
However, in the current game, golf’s regulating authorities have established specific guidelines for how much a golf ball can weigh. A golf ball must currently weigh no more than 1.620 ounces or 45.93 grams and the diameter of the ball should not exceed 1.680 inches, or 42.67 mm.
Which dimple pattern is best?
The truth is that you don’t really need to know which dimple pattern is best for you or what dimple pattern a specific golf ball has. It’s better to leave that decision to the designers of golf balls.
Instead, concentrate on the performance qualities of the golf ball. For example, it is more crucial to know if a ball has a high or low launch performance, or whether it has a lot of spin or as little spin as necessary.
Many of the features of a golf ball are caused, at least in part, by the dimple pattern and size of the dimples. However, it is preferable to focus on the performance characteristics rather than the dimple pattern that contributed to them. If you want to find out more, you can read our post on the different types of golf balls.