#AskMyGolfSpy – Golf Ball Dimples
Golf Balls

#AskMyGolfSpy – Golf Ball Dimples

Support our Mission. We independently test each product we recommend. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.

#AskMyGolfSpy – Golf Ball Dimples
Why do golf balls have dimples?

Dimples are responsible for the lift and drag properties of the golf ball. Dimples create turbulence, giving the airflow something to cling to as the golf ball travels through its flight.

Simply put, dimples help the golf ball get in the air and stay there.

What would happen if a golf ball didn’t have dimples?

Having seen this in person a couple of times, I can tell you that the flight looks a bit like a Tim Wakefield knuckleball. Without dimples, air separates quickly from the ball. From what I’ve seen, it causes it to fly unevenly before suddenly diving out of the sky.

What if the dimples are uneven for some reason?
mud vs scuffed vs new golf ball labLots of things can impact the aerodynamics of a ball. A common example is mud but things like scrapes and gouges and uneven paint fill from the factory can cause problems. It’s also not unheard of for factories to accidentally mix molds and put different patterns on each half of the golf ball.

Regardless of the cause, a golf ball will generally move opposite of aerodynamic disruption. If you’re a right-handed golfer and you’ve got mud on the side of the ball away from you (the right side), that ball is going to move left (draw/hook). The same thing is true for a big scrape or a gauge.

OK, so dimples are important but how hard is it to create a dimple pattern?

Mike Madson, Senior Director Golf Ball Research and Engineering at Titleist, tells us that creating a dimple pattern isn’t that hard but creating a better one is extremely difficult.

There’s no magic formula and R&D guys don’t always know what will and won’t work.

You can’t be certain either way until you create the molds and put the pattern on an actual golf ball. Bottom line: Creating a new pattern is a costly and time-intensive endeavor.

To put all of this in context, over the last 20 years, Titleist has developed nearly 3,000 different aerodynamic patterns with only one to two percent of them making it onto a final product.

Is there anything to be learned by the dimple count? Are more dimples better?

The short answer is no.

“There’s no magic to the count,” says Madson, “but the best dimple patterns seem to be in the range of 300 to 400 dimples.”

That said, Titleist has found patterns with 250 dimples or more that have worked well. There are also some viable patterns in the 450 range. It’s also worth noting that, for all of the good patterns, there are plenty of not-so-great patterns in that 300-400 dimple range.

A lot depends on the geometry of the pattern but the number of dimples itself is nothing you should concern yourself with.

Are there any generalities that can be drawn by looking at the depth of the dimples?

Depth is a function of the design objectives and it’s notable that depth is among the last things that gets dialed in once a pattern is deemed to be viable.

As far what you can actually see is concerned, trajectory will vary based on the pattern itself but, all things being equal, a ball with shallower dimples will fly higher than a ball with deeper dimples.

For a real-world example, compare the dimples on a Pro V1x to those on an AVX

What happens when the same dimple pattern is used on different balls?

As we noted above, creating a dimple pattern is hard which is why some manufacturers use the same pattern on multiple balls and why many overseas factories have just a few go-to patterns.

That’s not ideal.

In club fitting, we talk about optimal performance coming from the right balance of ball speed, launch angle and spin. Replace “launch angle” with “flight” and it’s effectively the same equation with a golf ball.

Speed comes primarily from the core (firmness and size), spin is the result of the hard/soft relationship between layers and the dimples provide the flight/trajectory.

If the flight characteristics of the dimples are not optimized to work with the speed and spin properties of golf ball, the design is not maximizing its potential.

In that respect, it’s a bit like not being able to alter launch angle in a club fitting and it’s the reason why when golf companies put the same dimples on balls with different performance specs, the pattern invariably performs better on one than the others.

What impact do dimples have on the spin and speed properties of the golf ball?

None.

As noted above, speed comes from the core (and the club), spin comes from the relationship between the layers. The dimples are purely aerodynamic. They don’t do anything until the ball has left the clubface.

For You

For You

News
Feb 23, 2024
Brilliant or Gimmicky? YouTube Golfers Have a Shot at PGA Tour Event
News
Feb 23, 2024
MGS Experiences: Panther National
News
Feb 23, 2024
Common Golf Injuries and Prevention Strategies
Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony is the Editor of MyGolfSpy where his job is to bring fresh and innovative content to the site. In addition to his editorial responsibilities, he was instrumental in developing MyGolfSpy's data-driven testing methodologies and continues to sift through our data to find the insights that can help improve your game. Tony believes that golfers deserve to know what's real and what's not, and that means MyGolfSpy's equipment coverage must extend beyond the so-called facts as dictated by the same companies that created them. Most of all Tony believes in performance over hype and #PowerToThePlayer.

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey





    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

      Tom D

      1 year ago

      Last word of paragraph 5 should be gouge instead of gauge (per the grammar police)????

      Reply

      James

      1 year ago

      You did not end your sentence with a full stop.

      Reply

      Mike

      1 year ago

      So, are we going to have a “most wanted dimple”? Only kidding! Really informative article, thanks guys

      Reply

      Tony

      1 year ago

      Really interesting, the no dimples was fairly obvious but the hairs with depth, quite surprising.

      Be great to see some testing around scuffs, scratches and even dirty balls which are common situations for the average golfer reluctant to chuck that ball in the shag bag!

      Thanks

      Reply

      David Connolly

      1 year ago

      So your next challenge is to test the effects of dimples being hit on short putts. Bryson (being Bryson) just did a YouTube with Grant Horvat and he lines up his ball so a specific dimple is hit and commented on how many people have the ball miss the hole from a short distance due to a dimple being hit in wrong place causing the ball to go off line.

      Reply

      bama no 1

      1 year ago

      from the guy (bryson)who takes 5 mins to lineup a putt and then misses it. maybe his cns was miss firing which caused him to miss the putt, not the dimples.

      Reply

      Christopher

      1 year ago

      Dave Pelz did a study and it did affect the start direction, not sure how the newer inserts influence that these days, as well as balls not always having seams, which were the best place to hit the ball.

      Reply

      Tom

      1 year ago

      Tony, thanks for the detail! If you naturally hit a high flight, would you go to AVX over the ProV1. I like the ProV1s stop shot control into greens, but am below 100mph swing speed.

      Reply

      John K

      1 year ago

      Tom, I would give the AVX a try! I did last year as I hit a higher flight and noticed it brought it down and I noticed my drives were a bit longer too! In the wind I really noticed the difference! I’m below a 100 swing speed too!

      Reply

      WBN

      1 year ago

      I’ve been playing around with the AVX ans have seen small distance gains and had no trouble stopping the ball on the green. It won’t back up but I don’t really need it to.

      Reply

      Mike

      1 year ago

      The only downside for me about the AVX is that, based on the hundreds of balls we’ve found, their covers wear really fast. I play a lot of rounds and if I had to purchase those balls, I wouldn’t be happy about having to frequently replace them.

      Have to believe the AVX is a “niche” ball. Again, based on the many, many balls we’ve found, we don’t come across too many of them. And few of them are in great condition compared to all the other balls we find.

      Just so things are put in context here regarding our sample size, we’re talking >30,000 balls we’ve found over the past 3 years.

      Reply

      Tom

      1 year ago

      Couldn’t that mean that they stay in play?

      don

      1 year ago

      WOW seems like finding a way to test dimple depth quality from 1 ball to another is even more important than if the core is centered.

      Reply

    Leave A Reply

    required
    required
    required (your email address will not be published)

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    News
    Feb 23, 2024
    Brilliant or Gimmicky? YouTube Golfers Have a Shot at PGA Tour Event
    News
    Feb 23, 2024
    MGS Experiences: Panther National
    News
    Feb 23, 2024
    Common Golf Injuries and Prevention Strategies