Why Do Golf Do Balls Have Dimples? (Explained!)

Last Updated on March 16, 2022 by

Dimples make the golf ball more aerodynamic, enabling it to travel farther and faster. Golf is a sport where the players are always on the lookout for the slightest advantage, dimples the golf ball an equal advantage to all golfers enabling them to hit the ball farther than it would usually go if it was smooth. 

Historically, Golf ball designs evolved from smooth to the dimpled ones we have today. This phenomenon has some scientific laws and fun physics behind it which makes it an interesting subject of interest. 

Back in the 14th century when the first gulf balls were made, it was out of woods produced by carpenters using hand tools. The transition continues till the 18th century when Roberts Adams Patterson made an interesting discovery. He experimented by placing a heated sap in a round mold and drying it up. People eventually observed that after using this ball for a while and it has become roughed up, it is more stable in flight and travels farther than the new one.

As further inventions unfolds up till the 19th century, Protruding patterns is the design on all golf balls until the dimple indentations were introduced. 

After several decades of discoveries, aided by the application of aerodynamics, it was discovered that dimples on a golf ball provide less air resistance which disrupts the air pattern around the ball when it is hit, for a more direct and long-distance flight.

Reasons Why Golf Balls Have Dimples

Reasons Why Golf Balls Have Dimples

Have you ever imagined how golf balls would perform without dimples all over its body? Seek no further as the reasons behind the innovation of dimples will be discussed below for more clarity.


As a science of the interaction of moving objects with the atmosphere, the turbulent boundary layer at the surface of the golf ball is formed by the presence of dimples. The turbulent flow acts on the gas molecules that exist in air, and therefore modify its development. The dimples on a golf ball allow for longer air time between the ball and the surface of the clubhead compared to a smooth golf ball. This reduces drag force, allowing more distance between the swinger and the golf ball to travel.


Dimples on both sides of a golf ball make it easier to control the trajectory and spin rate. This allows the player more time to time their swing while in mid-air and also results in greater height and distance when striking the ball. Dimples on golf are strategically placed on both sides of the ball as well as at the bottom or “equator” and not random so that when you hit the ball, it doesn’t matter which way the ball is oriented in your stroke – all parts interact with the environment equally.

Creation Of A Thin Layer Of Air

The basic function of dimples of golf balls is to create a thin layer of air that sticks to the surface during the flight of the ball, increasing the lift and reducing the drag which ultimately permits the ball to travel higher and farther. Traditionally spherical, dimples create a turbulent boundary layer that effectively allows the air around the ball during flight to travel tightly as an attached airflow. This process reduces the drag which makes a dimple golf ball travel farther than a smooth one.

With the above narratives, it’s easy to say dimples decrease aerodynamic drag on the golf ball during flight and augment its lift to make it travel farther and quicker.


Below are the frequently asked questions on why golf balls have dimples. Let’s take a look at them!

Have Golf Balls Always Had Dimples

Golf balls are originally smooth until discoveries were made on why it doesn’t travel to a far distance. Air quickly separates from the smooth ball while turbulence created by the dimples delays separation.

How Many Dimples Are On A Golf Ball

It could range from 300 to 500 indentations it’s primary function is to reduce air resistance and maintain lift to ensure efficient flight of the ball.

What Is The Purpose Of Dimples On A Golf Ball

Hitting a perfectly round golf ball may not go beyond 130-150 yards as it has a lot of drag in it. Dimples enhance the ball to travel farther as it reduces the drag by disrupting the air pattern around the golf ball when it is hit.

Why Do Golf Ball Dimples Reduce Drag

Lower pressure is created by dimples which enable air to move quicker on top of the ball during flight. Unlike perfectly round golf balls, a smooth flow of air is more permitted with the presence of dimples.

Is It Better To Have A Dimple On A Golf Ball

Absolutely. Dimples induce turbulence boundary around the ball which ultimately helps reduce the drag. Smooth golf balls won’t travel a far distance when hit and this makes dimple an essential part of the modern-day golf we enjoy today.

Concluding Remarks

The importance of dimples on a golf ball can not be overemphasized as they aid in lift and helps in the reduction of air resistance during the flight which ultimately enhances aerodynamic stability. Dimples on golf balls create turbulence which reduces the drag, which brings about a decrease in resistance that enables a swift and efficient flight of the ball.

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