Whether you have a friendly wager going with a friend on the course, or just a genuine curiosity about the sport, golf trivia can be a great way to learn about the game. In this article, we will take a look at the golf ball itself — specifically, the dimples on the ball.
If you ever looked at a golf ball and wondered how many dimples were on it, then you are not alone. This question is common, especially amongst new players, and the truth is that the answer varies depending on the type of golf ball you look used while playing. But, what is the most common number of dimples on a golf ball?
The most common amount of dimples found of a golf ball typically falls on the number three hundred and thirty-six. However, most balls fall within a range of three and five hundred dimples. This wide range varies from shot to ball because some manufacturers use different sized dimples or multiple types.
So, now that we know the answer to the question ‘what is the most common number of dimples on a golf ball?’, let us take a closer look at why the number varies and, more importantly, the specific function that these small holes serve when we hit the ball at high speeds.
Why Is the Number of Dimples Important When You Hit a Golf Ball?
While you might think that the dimples on golf are just for looks, you would be wrong in your assessment. There is a real science to how dimples help the ball move through the air after you hit it. Without dimples, the flight of a golf ball was unpredictable and hard to control for most golfers.
Before we begin to understand the science behind dimples, let us familiarize ourselves with some basic principles behind aerodynamics when an object moves through the air, that air exerts a certain amount of force on the object.
Think about what happens when you stick your arm out of a car window while it drives at high speed. The air exerts intense pressure on your arm causing it to bend. This force consists of two essential components acting on the object: lift and drag.
Drag reduces motion, while the lift operated against the force of action — in this case, causing the golf ball to rise when we hit it.
So what do dimples do when you hit a golf ball at high speeds? In simple terms, the small holes provide pockets of air resistance that form around the ball, reducing the overall drag of the product. When you hit an object, it receives pressure from all surrounding sides.
As such, the holes on the golf ball push back the pressure creating almost a protective layer that clings over the service of the ball in the air. While the ball flies through the air, the destructive force wraps back around the back of the ball which in turn makes it go further with each hit.
Without these holes, you would be entirely reliant on hitting the ball either forwards or sideways correctly.
But why do golf balls behave so erratically when you hit them without dimples? When you whack a golf ball hard, the ball flies through the atmosphere cutting through any of the air in its path. As such, behind the completely smooth ball form tiny vortexes that create a lot of drag and shift the direction in mid-air.
The dimples on a golf ball also help the golfer control the height of the ball once they hit it. Without these tiny holes, you would only get about half as much height, since most of the lift when you strike the ball comes from the backspin.
Even a professional golfer would only get a smooth ball about half as far compared to if they used a traditional one. No amount of skill can make up for the physics behind the matter. In this way, dimples are the unsung heroes of the golf community.
But how do the dimples cause an increase in height? The backspin caused by the dimples creates a difference in air pressure (with more applied on the bottom of the ball than on the top).
Think of the ball with dimples acting like an airplane’s wings. It cuts through the air, and the change in pressure causes it to rise. Thus, the ball increases, usually around fifty percent higher than if you hit an entirely smooth one.
But why does the exact number of dimples matter on a golf ball? Well, truthfully the precise amount of dimples does not matter. What is more important is that the dimples remain perfectly symmetrical.
If the manufacturer does not make the dimples on a golf ball perfectly symmetrical, then it will significantly affect the performance of the ball in flight because it will get wobbly in mid-air. The science behind this process concerns platonic solids which the small divots act as during the hitting process.
When Were Dimples First Put On Golf Balls?
Ironically, the first use of dimpled balls came about by accident. In the middle of the nineteenth century when golf started becoming a favorite sport, the only shots people used where smooth rubber ones. As such, getting a lot of height on the balls was difficult and controlling them was even worse.
However, golfers started noticing an exciting thing occurring with the golf balls they used. Most of the shots at the time consisted of hardened tree sap. When players used them a lot, they would start to get small nicks and dents from the various strike points.
These early golfers noticed that their old, well-worn golf balls performed much better than any new one. By 1905, manufacturers introduced what we now recognize as the dimpled golf ball. Today, extensive science and research go into optimizing the most out any ball’s performance.
Some people believe that golf manufacturers do too good of a job at optimizing golf ball performance. The introduction of multi-layer balls into the pro series makes some experts concerned that the game is becoming too comfortable.
How Are Big the Average Dimples on a Golf Balls?
How do you go about measuring the dimples on a golf ball? It is important to remember that people measure these divots on the ball by there depth, not by their diameter. As such, the average size of a golf ball dimple is roughly 0.010 inches. Pretty small, right?
They need to be to squeeze on as many possible in an even manner. However, this does not mean that every golf ball produced is uniform with another.
Many companies use different sizes for different balls or try out new shapes. While most companies go with a circle design for their product, other companies now employ more experimental forms, like the hexagon.
How Much Does the Average Golf Ball Weigh?
Throughout their history golf balls develop continually, so they never come with a consistent, catch-all weight. In fact, in early golf, almost no players had two balls that were alike — so different was the weight and size. Today, balls still come in different sizes and weights, but there are regulations in place regarding how heavy it can be.
A golf ball cannot weigh more than one point six two ounces, or forty-five point ninety-three grams if you want to use it for official play.
Does It Matter How Many Dimples Are On My Ball?
The truth of the matter is that the amount of dimples, whether it is three hundred or five hundred, does not concern you. Unless you are extremely in tune with the characteristics of your ball, we do not think you will notice it.
We believe that instead, you should focus on factors that directly affect your performance, like the types of core used or the specific exterior coating. These factors will more directly impact the way you play the game. Leave the ideal amount of dimples on your golf ball to the manufacturing researchers.
We hope this article helped you answer the golf trivia question ‘what is the most common number of dimples on a golf ball?’. After reading about some of the science behind golf, you probably hold a new appreciation for both the number of dimples squeezed on each ball and also the vital function they play in the hitting process.
Being knowledgeable about the physics behind golf is not only useful for Jeopardy questions — but it also makes you a better player since it teaches you how the ball moves through the air. Now get out there and play golf!