How Many Dimples Are on a Golf Ball and How They Impact Flight

How many dimples on a golf ball?

It’s a question you might think a curious kid would ask – how many dimples are on a golf ball? If you’re into golf, however, you know that golf ball dimple design is actually really important for performance. The dimple pattern affects a golf ball’s lift and helps the golf ball fly farther.

Once you understand how golf ball dimples work, you’re likely to ask the same question. Plus, since dimple patterns vary and everyone’s technique is different, this knowledge can actually change your entire game. This article will answer all your questions about golf ball dimples.

How Do Dimples in Golf Balls Affect Their Flight?

Golf ball dimples are not simply aesthetic. They actually affect flight in a few major ways. In short, the dimples on a ball are there to reduce wind resistance.

In scientific terms, this is deemed aerodynamic drag. When we lower that drag, the golf ball can go much further. Here’s how.

They Minimize Air Resistance to Maximize Lift

Golf ball dimples actually determine the distance that a ball will fly. The negative space of the dimples increases lift by reducing air resistance. These two factors increase travel distance and provide better stability in terms of trajectory. 

They Determine Trajectory and Distance

The number of dimples, as well as their size and pattern, is key. The alignment and depth of the dimples impact distance. It’s generally best for a ball to have a pattern of one shallow dimple followed by one deep dimple. 

This, in addition to an evenly spaced dimple pattern, can also improve precision so your shots don’t go in the wrong direction. The high lift and low drag that results from the dimples ultimately aid in distance and trajectory.

How Many Dimples on a Golf Ball?

Every branded golf ball is different. In fact, even different models from the same manufacturer have different numbers of dimples.   

The number of dimples per golf ball generally ranges from 300 to 500. For example, one of the most popular golf balls, the Titleist’s flagship call, the Pro V1X, from 2017/18 has 328 dimples.

That isn’t always the rule, though. Some balls have over 1,000 dimples!

Why Do Golf Balls Have Dimples?

Dimples on a golf ball create lift.

Golf ball manufacturers add dimples because they determine the golf ball’s performance characteristics. In general, when an irregular or flat object flies through the air, it moves inconsistently because of the way that air flows around its shape.

As such, a golf ball without dimples wouldn’t travel predictably through the air. It would fluctuate, and there’d be no way to control it. 

The dimple pattern on a golf ball’s surface creates a thin layer of air around the ball, which cuts down on drag. A larger portion of the golf ball receives airflow, resulting in a much smoother, more predictable ball flight.  

As mentioned above, the dimples on a golf ball also give it lift thanks to spin. About half of lift comes from a backward spinning motion.

This motion happens when the air pressure under the golf ball is greater than the air pressure above, forcing the ball to rise. A golf ball’s dimple pattern increases this effect by up to 50%.

How important are golf ball dimples? Just a minor change to a golf ball’s characteristics can majorly impact ball spin, lift force, and other performance factors. 

For example, let’s look at a golf ball with shallower dimples or deeper dimples. A change in their depth by just 0.001 inches can drastically change the ball’s trajectory and distance traveled. 

Even the shape of dimples matters. While dimples are traditionally round, some golf manufacturers optimize performance by using hexagons. For example, Callaway’s HX golf ball uses hexagonal dimples to boost aerodynamic performance.

When Did Golf Balls Get Dimples?

Golf ball dimples were invented accidentally in the mid-19th century. The most popular balls of the time, known as gutties, were made from molded tree sap. 

Naturally, these balls got pretty dinged up. Many golfers noticed that those with the most damage had the most consistent ball flight. Those with the most dimples covered the most distance.

Realizing that dimples improved trajectory, golf ball makers started adding raised bums onto balls in the 1900s. From there, another maker realized that indentations improved performance even more. William Taylor registered a golf ball dimple patent in 1905. 

Over time, the science behind golf ball dimples has advanced. As such, golf ball manufacturers have found the design for optimal control, lift, and distance in the modern era. 

How Big Are Dimples on Golf Balls?

American golf balls

Dimple sizes vary depending on the model. Generally speaking, the majority of dimples on golf balls measure one-fifteenth of a millimeter in circumference.

The average depth of golf ball dimples is 0.010 inches. Plus, golf balls can have either spherical or hexagonal dimples, which also impact measurements.

Interestingly, the United States Golf Association (USGA) has regulations for almost all aspects of a golf ball, but one for the shape or size of the dimple. They also don’t have any rules in terms of the number of dimples a golf ball should have

How Much Does a Golf Ball Weigh?

Historically speaking, golf balls have had relatively inconsistent weights, sizes, and shapes. Nowadays, regulators have set parameters for golf ball weights. They must have a mass of no more than 45.93 grams or 1.620 ounces.

How Big Is a Golf Ball?

A regulation golf ball must have a diameter of no less than 45.67 millimeters or 1.680 inches.

Which Golf Balls Have the Most Dimples?

Dimples determine drag forces. More dimples, more upward force and less drag.

The number of dimples on a golf ball impact performance. The more dimples on a golf ball, the greater the drag, which leads to a lower trajectory. 

With this in mind, it’s important to know how many dimples golf balls have before buying. Here are the most common golf balls and their dimple counts:

  • Titleist Pro V1 – 388 Dimples
  • Titleist Pro V1x – 348 Dimples
  • Titleist AVX – 352 Dimples
  • Titleist Tour Speed – 346 Dimples
  • Titleist Tour Soft – 342 Dimples
  • Titleist Velocity – 350 Dimples
  • Titleist TruFeel – 376 Dimples
  • Bridgestone Tour B X – 322 Dimples
  • Bridgestone Tour B XS – 330 Dimples

How Do I Know Which Golf Ball Dimple Patterns Are Right for Me?

There’s a lot of variety in golf ball dimple patterns from model to model, as well as manufacturer to manufacturer. Rather than focusing on the dimple pattern, you’re better off considering performance characteristics. This is because the dimples create lift, add more spin, and improve overall distance.

The way a golf ball performs is directly related to its dimple size and pattern. For example, researching whether a ball has a little spin or a lot of spin will tell you more about whether it’s a good ball for you rather than knowing how many dimples it has. Zero in on performance features, then look into dimple patterns to find similar balls.

What Would Happen If a Golf Balls Didn’t Have Dimples on It?

Most golfers don't know about dimple depth.

A smooth ball lacks lift and distance. Without the optimized airflow that dimples provide, a smooth golf ball tends to fly low, move erratically, and lacks spin completely.

On the other hand, balls with dimples have plenty of lift. Air moves faster over the top of the ball, creating lower pressure that allows it to really fly. The dimples cause a reduced drag, which creates a smooth, clean trajectory, as well as a nice spin. 

In fact, even a smooth golf ball hit by a professional golfer would travel just half the distance of a dimpled golf ball. The dimples are critical for the performance of the golf ball.

History of Golf Ball Dimples

The very first golf balls are unrecognizable compared to today’s standards. Golf was first documented in Scotland in the 15th century. 

The golf balls they played with had a leather exterior and were stuffed with boiled goose feathers. This method of golf ball making worked well enough, as it was in use for hundreds of years. 

Finally, in 1845, golf ball makers began forming golf balls from Malaysian sapodilla tree gum. These were called gutties or gutta-percha golf balls. They were totally smooth and traveled much further than the leather golf balls did. 

Over time, golfers came to realize that the balls that had been used most traveled further than brand new, smooth golf balls. They favored the balls that were scuffed up and dented. Soon, manufacturers realized that the dents improved golf ball performance. 

Ball makers first started making balls with raised protrusions. Then, they tried making dimpled golf balls by hammering dents in by hand. Soon, the new type of golf ball started to take off. 

One early adopter was David Stanley Froy. He used a dimpled golf ball at the 1900 British Open. Two decades later, in 1921, golf balls with dimples earned a standard size and weight. In major tournaments, dimpled golf balls were now considered required equipment. 

Finally, by the mid-1930s, dimpled golf balls became the standard everywhere. Since then, manufacturers have continued to improve the design by optimizing dimple pattern and size, as well as the overall number of dimples. However, there have been no further drastic changes like those we saw at the turn of the century. 

Have Golf Balls Always Had Dimples?

More dimples give you more distance and upward direction.

No. The original golf balls were completely smooth. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that manufacturers began adding a number of dimples to golf balls.

Improve Your Golf Game with the Jim Venetos Golf Academy

Now that you know how many dimples on a golf ball, as well as how they affect performance. That’s just one piece of the equation, though. If you really want to improve your skill level, you need to focus on your golf swing and technique.

That’s where the Jim Venetos Golf Academy comes in. Through our online training portal, you’ll learn how to produce powerful golf shots while limiting physical stress on your body so that you can play the best golf of your life – for the rest of your life! Learn more about it here.

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