Lift, Drag and Dimples – the rudimentary aerodynamics of a golf ball.

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As a fairly new golfer, I'm fascinated by the game, the techniques and the technology.  I was thinking about golf balls as blog topic and started to wonder about the dimples.  Ever wonder why there are little dimples on a golf ball?

The fact is, a perfectly smooth golf ball with no dimples would travel about 130 yards when hit by a driver by a good player.  The dimples cause the ball to travel about 290 yards when hit the same way.  Its all about aerodynamics.  A smooth ball flies like a bullet and has no "lift."  A dimpled ball spins and therefore climbs up into the sky.  Believe it or not – the dimples actually reduce drag and make the ball slide through the air more smoothly.  So, without getting too much into the realm of physics, suffice it to say the combination of the lift and drag properties of a ball are improved with dimples.

The effect of dimples on golf ball distance and trajectory was discovered pretty much by accident in the mid 1800's.  Someone noticed that balls with improperly smoothed surfaces, scratches and minor damage flew straighter and further than brand new smooth balls.  So in the beginning golf balls were hammered by hand with a consistent pattern using a sharp edged hammer to create the first generation of the dimples.

So are there good versus bad dimples?  Believe it or not there are.  The size, shape, depth, number, distribution pattern and overall surface coverage all influence the ball's aerodynamic lift and drag properties.  Most of what is known about golf ball design has been arrived at through experimentation (trial and error and some science) by golf ball manufacturers.  Dimple design has changed significantly over time, and what is currently in the marketplace is the culmination of years of development.  It has been generally found that less than 300 dimples is too few, and more than about 500 is too many.  Eventually, as the number of dimples increases, the dimples get smaller and ball becomes almost smooth – so you're back to the original problem.  Most balls on the market have between 350 and 400 dimples.

So as you work with your customers to select the right golf ball for their event or promotion, toss out a bit of the history of the dimple, say the words "lift" and "drag," and impress them! 

And don't forget – Norwood is an award winner in pad printing on golf balls (PPAI Supplier Achievement Award 2009).

Click here to go straight to our extensive selection of golf balls, featuring Titleist(R), Nike(R), Pinnacle(R) and the hot new Penta Golf Ball from Taylormade(R) among others.

Click here for a link to our Golf, Sports & Fun iCatalog(TM).  Check out pages 6 and 7 for a Tournament Planner Checklist and a guide to what kind of ball is right for your golf event.

~ Margit Fawbush

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